If I were a betting man, I’d not bet on Adrien Broner being able on Saturday night to turn back the clock, and fight in a manner that has us thinking like we did about him in 2012.
Maybe I get tempted to entertain the possibility when he reminds us that he is “only” 31. But this guy hasn’t exactly been living the spartan life, and following the Tom Brady way with his food intake and such.
Maybe his walk will match his talk, because Jovanie Santiago is the type of fighter to make a Broner look like a throwback version of himself.
But I fear Broner has simply become set in his ways, and those ways are too ingrained. Maybe they wouldn’t be, if he hadn’t been taken into deep waters and water-boarded by Marcos Maidana in 2013…but that happened, and it left mental scarring on the talented pugilist, and the scars haven’t faded.
Broner would like to believe he can turn the ship around, and make another run to prominence.
Our friends at Sports Betting Dime inform us that the average sportsbook odds are Broner (-800) vs Santiago (+500), and SDB’s odds are Broner (-1000) vs Santiago (+1000). He’s been out of the ring since losing to Manny Pacquiao in January 2019, but Santiago is BoxRec’s 93rd-ranked super lightweight, and he has never faced a top 200 foe. “Broner took four rounds from Pacquiao while stepping up in weight. It’s rumored that Broner is only returning due to financial problems. But even so, this isn’t the money-making fight to cure what ails him. He needs to string together multiple wins to earn the purses that he used to. If he is remotely motivated, he wins this fight without difficulty,” SBD opines.
Broner is a solid salesman, and he’s been showing that in telling fans that we will see a “new old” AB on Showtime. “People forget that I’m only 31 years old,” Broner said at a recent workout. “They sometimes look at me like an old head. It’s crazy. I have been around for a long time – about 11 years now. But I’m only 31 and I have a lot more in the tank. With my resume, I just feel like I have a lot more to do. I’m going to put the work in and I’m going to get it done. Of course, I think about the Hall of Fame. I think I’ve done enough already. I was one of the youngest to ever become a four-time world champion in four weight classes. But I’m going to go win some more titles and do what I do to seal the deal.”
Hardcore fans know that the age we are in makes it so boasts about titles have to be thoroughly examined before they are believed. Broner’s title wins are not of the sort that have fight fans bringing up, to laud him. His super feather crown came in a fight against Vicente Rodriguez, not a world beater. The lightweight crown came to him from a fight with Antonio DeMarco, rugged but limited. The welter title was won in a match with Paul Malignaggi, again, not a Hall of Famer. The junior welter title came from a fight against Khabib Allahkverdiev, who had lost to Jessie Vargas, then fought Broner, and retired.
So, his talk of all the titles simply just doesn’t sway people when he uses it to try and sway us.
He can sway us by finally letting the fricking hands go, and showing us that he wants to win, and entertain us with more than just his goofball antics and TMZ hijinks (click here to read a story by Jonathan Leir on Broner, and his hijinks.)
Here is a release sent out by Showtime hyping the Saturday Broner card and support fights:
NEW YORK – February 16, 2021 – Former four-division world champion and must-see attraction Adrien “The Problem” Broner and stablemate and former world champion Robert “Trouble” Easter Jr. previewed their respective showdowns taking place Saturday, February 20 live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The popular Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), who by the age of 26 had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, will end his two-year hiatus from boxing and continue his quest for a fifth world title by returning to face Jovanie Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round super lightweight bout. In the opening bout of the telecast, the former IBF Lightweight World Champion Easter (22-1-1, 14 KOs) will fight for the second time at super lightweight when he takes on once-beaten contender Ryan Martin (24-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round contest.
The childhood friends and Ohio natives just concluded an intense and lengthy training camp in southern Florida under the watchful eye of Mike Stafford, the longtime head trainer of Broner and assistant trainer of Easter. Here is what both fighters had to say about training camp, their respective matchups and more:
On his matchup with Jovanie Santiago…
“Santiago is hungry. He’s still undefeated and he definitely doesn’t want to lose. It’s going to be a great fight. He’s definitely going to come to fight. Anybody that has a chance to fight an Adrien Broner to put their career up another step, they’re going to bring their A-game. I’m just training my hardest and I’m going to come in and be ready on February 20.
“He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got great skills. But I just think I’m on a different level. February 20 people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon.
On his motivations for this fight…
“Even if I didn’t have these pending court cases against me, I’d still be working my ass off to come back and make a fortune. That has nothing to do with my motivation. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. The motivation is that I miss the sport. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion.
“I’ve found my love for boxing again. I gave myself some time to miss boxing and I’m ready to go in there and win some more world titles. My children are what fuel me now.
On how he plans to stay on track after this fight…
“I just need to go back to the gym after the fight. I’m trying to stay out of as much trouble as possible, stay out of jail and just work my ass off. I’m going to dedicate these last three to five years to straight boxing. I’m going to get as much as I can out of boxing and then retire and watch my kids grow up. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just time to get to business, make my money and do what I do best, and that’s box.
On getting back into fighting shape…
“I had to lose the 35 pounds and it was tough. I’ve put in the work. After this fight I’m going to stay on track and get right back to the gym. The goal is to become the five-time world champion, and then the sixth and the seventh time after that. I’m just working. I was so out of shape. I had to be gritty and I had to dig deep. Being out that long, I was overweight. I had to wake up and run miles and work my body back. It was tough.
“I’ve just had to change everything, change the lifestyle mostly. What would I tell a younger fighter? Just stay in the gym as much as possible. Don’t be blinded by the money and the lights and the girls and the partying life. I’m not saying don’t live your life. You can’t just box, box, box your whole life. You just have to stay relaxed.
On fighting at 140 pounds…
“I feel like 140 pounds is the weight that I want to be at. You can’t really say I made by bread and butter at 147. I’ve been a champion at 147 pounds but I’ve also been a champion at 140, 135 and 130 pounds. I think any fight at whatever weight Adrien Broner is at is a big fight. That’s the main thing. I want to fight where I feel the most comfortable right now in my career, and right now, I think 140 is the best for me.
On his legacy as a boxer…
“My career speaks for itself, honestly. A four-weight class world champion. I was one of the youngest to ever do it. And I’m going to be a five-time world champion soon. I’m just going to keep putting in the work and I’m going to stay focused.
“People forget that I’m only 31 years old. They sometimes look at me like an old head. It’s crazy. I have been around for a long time – about 11 years now. But I’m only 31 and I have a lot more in the tank. With my resume, I just feel like I have a lot more to do. I’m going to put the work in and I’m going to get it done. Of course, I think about the Hall of Fame. I think I’ve done enough already. I was one of the youngest to ever become a four-time world champion in four weight classes. But I’m going to go win some more titles and do what I do to seal the deal.”
ROBERT EASTER JR.
On his matchup with Ryan Martin…
“Martin is a tough opponent who is going to bring his A-game, but I don’t see much difficulty in handling him and adjusting to anything he brings. I know he’s a hard worker. We fought each other in the amateurs so I know he probably has a chip on his shoulder. I really don’t think there’s much from that amateur fight that I can take away for this fight. We both have transitioned into the pros so he probably has a little more in his arsenal now, just like I do.
“I don’t know what to expect from Ryan Martin, but I do know what I expect from myself. When I’m in the ring I will make it a one-sided fight and bring my A-game. I’m coming to get the win.
On his 15-month layoff…
“I’m just very excited to get back in the ring. I had a little rust at first but that’s gone away and I’m perfectly fine now. I was a little nervous thinking about how I was going to feel when I came back, but I’m good now. We’re training very well. We’re sparring a lot. I am more than ready.
On training with Broner…
“There’s a lot I’ve learned from Adrian. We train together every single day in the morning and in the afternoon. As soon as I turned pro, he took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of small things that you have to learn when you first come up from the amateurs into the pros. He was already a world champion by the time I came up so there was definitely a lot I could learn from him.
On his plans for 2021…
“I’m not worried about who’s next, I just have to be prepared for February 20. It’s been frustrating watching all these fights on TV. I don’t even watch it anymore. But it’s been motivating to me and I just have to stay focused and keep training like crazy.
“My plan for 2021 is that I want to fight three times and get a title shot as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter who has the title or who I have to fight, I want to go get it. I plan to stay at 140. I feel stronger at 140 than I do at 135, so that’s where I want to be. I’m taking it one fight at a time to get to that title shot.”