TIJUANA Antonio DeMarco was 13 years old when he left his native Sinaloa state for Mexico City to pursue his parents' goal for him to become a professional soccer player. One year later, however, he was in this border city learning to box, pursuing his own dream.
On Saturday, DeMarco, now 26 and 135 pounds, returns to his native city of Los Mochis not only as a professional boxer but as the lightweight champion of the World Boxing Council.
He will defend his title for the first time against Miguel Román (37-9-28 KO), also 26, 125 pounds, who will be trying for the second time for a world title.
Román, from Ciudad Juárez, was defeated a year ago by Argentinian Jonathan Barros when he was fighting for the featherweight title of the World Boxing Association.
Last October, DeMarco (26-2-1-19 KO) surprised observers by winning the WBC's lightweight title by knocking out Venezuelan star Jorge Linares in the ninth round after trailing in points the entire fight.
"I'm happy to fight in Los Mochis. I'm thrilled to be returning there as a champion," said DeMarco, who last fought in his hometown in the summer of 2007 as an unknown boxer.
His opponent Saturday has promised that the bout will not be a walk in the park.
Although Román lost most recently by points in Las Vegas against Javier Fortuna, he's a tough challenger. He's aggressive and precise.
But Román is at a disadvantage compared to DeMarco, who is 5.8 inches taller and also has enough power behind his punches to finish the fight before the final bell.
According to fightnews.com, the best boxer in the lightweight division is actually Juan Manuel Márquez,
the Mexican champion of the World Boxing Organization.
He's followed by Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa, who curiously is not a world champion but is classified as the first challenger to the title that DeMarco holds. If their record continues as expected, these two will soon meet.
But DeMarco will have to beat Román first on Saturday. The fight will be televised by the Mexican network Televisa during the Saturday night boxing show called "Boxeo Corona."