It didn’t matter in the slightest that his opponent was supposed to be his most challenging to date. Eight rounds in, the towel was waved and the fight was called off. Antonio DeMarco had just been dismantled in spectacular fashion and Adrien Broner had just shown yet again why he’s considered by many as the next big superstar of boxing.
Here, I’d like to take a look at what led to Adrien Broner being so superior to Antonio DeMarco at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Saturday night.
Changing the range
Right from the off, it was immediately apparent that in order for the visibly taller Tony DeMarco to be at his most effective, he needed to keep the shorter Adrien Broner at distance and on the end of his longer punches so that his southpaw angles would be at their most operative.
This is what I’d consider to be a good range for Tony DeMarco to be in -Broner is clearly outside of his contact range but is well inside of DeMarco’s. At this distance, Broner could find himself on the end of DeMarco’s straighter punches and unable to touch him with a counter.
Broner found a way of taking DeMarco’s length away from him and eventually forced an inside fight. First, Broner took DeMarco’s jab away from him.
When one fighter is a southpaw and the other is orthodox, both fighters’ lead hands will be lined up with one each other’s. Right from the opening bell, Broner made a conscious decision to smother DeMarco’s lead hand with his own lead hand, nullifying DeMarco’s southpaw jab in the process.
Notice in these photographs how Broner is closing the distance and covering DeMarco’s lead hand with his own lead hand. DeMarco’s best way of establishing his length advantage is by keeping Broner on the end of the jab. Here, Broner has prevented DeMarco from even throwing it.
On the rare occasions when DeMarco did find the room to let his jab go, Broner had it timed and avoided the shot easily, either by blocking it or parrying it.
Here, Broner stuffs two attempted jabs by DeMarco. The first jab is slapped down by Broner’s lead glove, while the second jab is stopped short because of Broner’s forearm.
With DeMarco’s most significant offensive weapon taken away, Broner set about implementing some offense of his own, again using DeMarco’s lead hand as a bridge.
Because DeMarco was now familiar with having his lead glove touched and covered often, Broner began to use his lead hand as a feint to disguise his follow up shots. Here, Broner uses his lead hand cover as a decoy to dip low and land a jab to DeMarco’s body.
In this sequence, Broner uses his lead hand to first cover DeMarco’s lead hand before pulling his arm down and firing a straight right hand inside of DeMarco’s now open guard.
Here, Broner gains outside position with his lead hand. This time he pulls back and lands a jab over the top of DeMarco’s lead hand.
Broner continued to vary his offense in the early rounds, particularly with his jab to the body. Again, because Broner was using DeMarco’s lead hand as a precursor, DeMarco became confused and wasn’t sure what to expect next from Broner. The jab to the body is a great way of causing an opponent to lower their guard slightly in order to compensate. As a result, shots aimed up top became easier to land for Broner.
Here’s Broner landing his jab to the body. At this stage in the fight, DeMarco had no idea what type of shot was coming next from Broner.
By the middle rounds, Broner had already neutralized DeMarco’s length by taking away his jab. Not only that, but Broner was now starting to take over the fight using his own jab along with unpredictable offense –jabs aimed high and low, straight right hands and left hooks. DeMarco’s jab and length, considered to be his best tools before the fight, were now actually working against him. This is where DeMarco decided to change tactics and try his luck on the inside against Broner. This, I believe, would have been part of Broner’s plan; to cast self-doubt upon DeMarco by taking away his jab and forcing him into believing that his best shot at winning would be to work inside. It’s been said here before, Broner is excellent at limiting his opponent’s attacking options by manipulating them into thinking he’s vulnerable in close. Once a fighter is on the inside with Broner, it’s very hard for them to throw anything other than right or left hooks, such is the way that Broner positions his body in relation to his opponent. Broner reads everything at close quarters.
And so, because DeMarco felt that fighting from the outside wasn’t working, he decided to go shoulder to shoulder with Broner. Mission accomplished for “the problem”.
Look at the difference in range between the two fighters at the start and the middle of the fight in the two photographs. Regardless of what was happening, standing shoulder to shoulder with Broner clearly wasn’t the way forwards for DeMarco. Notice Broner’s body shape in the second photograph in relation to DeMarco’s –Broner is standing side on with chin behind his lead shoulder, offering little to aim at and is in perfect position to land a right uppercut. DeMarco, on the other hand, is squared up to Broner, his shoulders and feet are parallel and he’s wide open for an uppercut through the centre. In this position, straight punches are pretty much impossible to throw for DeMarco, leaving only wide hooks in close. Broner’s body shape is designed to pick wide shots off at this range.
Once the distance was shortened, the fight became a lot more difficult for the taller fighter and a lot simpler for the shorter, slicker fighter, who is one of the best inside operators in all of boxing. There aren’t many fighters as refined as Adrien Broner inside the pocket. It’s one thing for a fighter to bury his/her head into an opponent’s chest and wail away blindly with rights and lefts, it’s another thing altogether what Adrien Broner does on the inside.
Here’s Broner using the elbow to push into DeMarco’s chest and create space for himself so that he can land his right uppercut.
Here, Broner uses his lead shoulder to bump DeMarco and create space for his right uppercut to the body.
In this sequence, DeMarco attempts to land a straight left, only for Broner to parry and counter with the same hand. As DeMarco tries to come back with a right/left combo, Broner rolls and catches both shots on his right forearm and and left elbow. Again, once an opponent gets too close to Broner, many of their attacking options are gone.
Broner is also brilliant at controlling his opponent using his non punching hand as he’s punching. Combination punching is considered one of the best forms of offense and is taught in every boxing gym around the world. While Broner is a very good rhythmic combination puncher, I believe he’s an even better puncher when he’s using broken rhythm. Watch Broner throw his punches. You’ll see him punch, hold, maneuver, and then punch again. Combination punching patterns can be taught and memorized. On the other hand, Broner’s intermitting punching style seems like it would be very difficult for an opponent to forecast and defend against.
Notice here how Broner uses his left glove to push into DeMarco’s face before landing a right uppercut to the body. Broner then holds on to the back of DeMarco’s neck before landing a short left hook just as he’s releasing DeMarco. Grappling and holding is a big part of Broner’s infighting style.
Here’s another example of Broner controlling his opponent on the inside using his grappling ability and non-punching hand. Notice how Broner holds on to DeMarco’s head before landing a right uppercut, followed by a left cross. After landing the cross, Broner holds and fires another right uppercut before grabbing hold of DeMarco’s head again.
Another one of Broner’s inside tricks is to launch a surprise attack immediately after pushing off.
As Broner pushes DeMarco away, he lands a left uppercut followed by a straight right hand. Broner is excellent at attacking an opponent when they least expect it. DeMarco can’t block Broner’s attack just as he’s being pushed back.
All in all, Tony DeMarco was systematically taken apart by one of the most cerebral practitioners in the game. Broner’s level of craft, and in particular, his level of defense, is clearly world-class. But what I find fascinating is how Broner uses his evasive technique as a way of inflicting violence instead of using it to avoid it. There has been many a defensive technician –Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, Pernell Whitaker- who’ve used their defensive craft to avoid a fight. Broner is the polar opposite, using his defensive ingenuity to get himself inside and take his opponents out. There’s a mean streak in Broner that is usually missing in other defensive minded fighters.
The closing moments of the fight illustrated this vividly.
Notice how Broner lands a left hook to the body, then slips a left cross. Because Broner hasn’t used his legs to avoid the attack, he’s in a position to counter. Broner then lands a right uppercut followed by a short left hook. As DeMarco is hurt, Broner brings his attack down stairs, throwing a straight right and a right uppercut to the body. Broner punctuates the fight ending combination with a left uppercut to the head of DeMarco’s. Broner’s precision during this sequence was chilling. It wasn’t so much about the speed and power of each punch as it was delivered, in as much as it was about the placement. Broner sees everything. There’s never any wildness in any of his attacks as he’s very relaxed and very methodical. Not to go overboard here, but Broner’s punch placement kind of reminds me of Archie Moore’s, another fighter who used his defensive wisdom to help secure knockout victories.
Boxing seems easy to Adrien Broner. At this moment in time, I think it’s safe to assume that it’s going to take someone a bit special –and someone probably weighing more than 135 pounds- to defeat Adrien Broner. Even at this early stage in his career, Adrien Broner appears to be the finished article.
I can’t see anyone at 135, or possibly even at 140 solving the problem just yet. Can you?