In a sport where there is little margin for error, prospect Nick Casal, 21, has fallen from grace faster than Milli Vanilla. It seems like yesterday that the now 16-2-1 (11) lightweight was undefeated and had the right backing, like manager Shelly Finkel, to guide him to the top.
But now he is Finkel-less and his father and long-time head trainer is no longer running his corner. His problems began, as far as the public is concerned, when he tested positive for cocaine after starching Martinus Clay in June 2005. The first-round KO was changed to a No Contest.
He strung together four wins after that, but then had a draw against Dean White. Two fights later, at the beginning of 2007, he was thoroughly beaten by Jose Antonio Izquierdo on ShoBox.
Last Friday, as the main event on ShoBox, he collected L number two as Antonio DeMarco beat him convincingly in his first 10-rounder. The judges at Santa Ynez California’s Chumash Casino had it a UD by scores of 93-97 twice and 94-96.
DeMarco, a tall, formidable, 21-year-old southpaw from Tijuana raised his mark to 15-1-1 (11). Although he had previously been fed a “marshmallow diet,” as announcer Steve Farhood put it, now we know he can digest tough steak.
Going in, Farhood and his partner Nick Charles described the scrap as a “must-win” for both combatants. And while the fight didn’t ultimately go as Casal would’ve wanted, and he revealed several technical problems that need to be ironed out, he proved he’s not lacking in heart or chin.
After the 10th round, which Farhood described as perhaps the best 10th in the history of the great ShoBox series, he said: Given how they fought, their careers are not on the line. Because they’re going to be coming back [on ShoBox or some other network] plenty.”
The fight was competitive though out, Casal was always “in it.” Yet Antonio DeMarco—who like Casal fights under Gary Shaw’s promotional banner—looked like the more complete, impressive prospect of the two.
He was described as a boxer, but DeMarco looked to trade just as often. Maybe a little more than a trainer would like, but enough that fans and networks will welcome seeing him again. He wasn’t swinging wild out there. He had a keen sense of distance and timing. His hands were fast, and heavy enough to get Nick’s attention and bloody the bridge of his nose. He caught Casal at the end of his long straight punches countless times. He also wasn’t easy to time; sometimes he lead, sometimes he punched with Casal and other times he countered.
The first three rounds were fought at a torrid pace. They were close rounds but I kept giving them to Antonio. When he set his feet, he got off blazing one-twos, stinging right hooks, and didn’t overlook the body.
Casal, though the squatter fighter with a significant disadvantage in reach, was head hunting. He knew his fight was on the inside but, for all his effort, he didn’t know how to claim his real estate properly. His head was static, his jab was nonexistent, and he leaned forward and squared up too often.
For this reason, the uppercut was a big punch for DeMarco. What kept Casal in it was his solid chin and his—rightfully—behaving like his career was on the line.
In the seventh Nick seemed to gas out. There was nothing on his punches and he was breathing through his mouth. His right eye was angry and his nose was a bloody mess. His fortunes didn’t improve in the eighth, although he kept plugging away.
His saving grace was an occasional big right hand, or his money punch, the left hook. He’s got a great one but he seldom threw it. But he let one go at the bell ending the eighth, and it staggered DeMarco. It was his best shot of the night.
Between rounds, Casal’s corner implored him to dominate the final six minutes. This is when Casal won over the announcers, fans, and this observer. He let it all hang out and arguably won nine and 10.
It’s not that DeMarco wasn’t in there giving and taking till the very end, it’s just that we had come to expect the classy young Mexican to consistently be the better man.
Casal would do well to study tape of jnr. middle Alfredo Angulo, who won the opening televised bout at 1:56 of round two. The 2004 Mexican Olympian, who fights out of Coachella, CA put on a clinic of effective pressure, measured aggression. The Puerto Rican Emmanuel Gonzalez quickly wilted under the heat Angulo put on him.
Agnulo stays undefeated at 10-0 (7), while Gonzalez fell to 9-1 (4).
I had first heard of Angulo as being Roy Jones’ sparring partner as he prepared for Anthony Hanshaw. A jnr. middle getting Jones ready light heavy? Roy really must be in a bad way, I assumed.
No so. The Mexican could give anyone fits.
Gonzalez worked the perimeter of the ring, but at every turn Angulo was there. And Alfredo wasn’t chasing him; he was performing that lost art of cutting off the ring. It was a pleasure to watch. Along with his sound footwork and balance was a stiff, busy jab. Once inside, his power shots were accurate and heavy.
Gonzalez’s punches were woefully light by comparison.
A stoppage was just a matter of time.
A right hand to the temple put Gonzalez down a minute into the second. He rose quickly, but was quickly smothered with blur of red 10-ounce Everlast mitts. A right hook Gonzalez never saw coming ended the fight. He beat the count but the ref correctly gathered that the fight had been beaten out of him.