Back in December, I asked Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza what one bout he was most looking forward to. He pondered, and at the top of his list was the match of Adrien/Adrians, the Broner vs Granados tango.
They meet Saturday night in Cincinnati, and I think it is fair to say that this foe is as respected as any Broner foe, for the possibility that he could spring the upset, in the last six or seven Broner bouts. OK, I think people some folks saw Broner vs Shawn Porter as a coin flip coming in. But for such a middling record, he’s 18-4-2, Granados commands far more respect than one would imagine. And for good reason…watch him do his thing in getting the TKO8 upset win over Amir Imam…
…and you can picture this guy giving Broner fits. And maybe an L…
But, I think if this thing were held a few months ago, I’be be better able to picture that disposition. Because a few months ago, let us say this without pretending to be dainty, Broner was a trainwreck.
He’s admitted as much, telling journos in the leadup to this fight that indeed he’d been off the rails late last year, but is now back on a better track. You might recall, if you are a social media sort, how Broner last October made references to killing himself on his Instagram.
Was it a cry for attention or truly was he in a downward spiral of hopelessness? “3PM I’m doing it,” he wrote in one post. “I’m sorry to my family and friends but I don’t want to be here no more.” His next post was a photo of a handgun with a caption, “I’m going home I love y’all.”
Regardless, he surely seemed to have his head on straight when I saw him at Barclays Center before the Badou Jack v James DeGale tango January 14. He was clear eyed, saying (mostly) all the right things, save when he casually slurred Bob Arum in the context of allegedly trying to sign him a few years back.
Point is, it SEEMS like Broner is in a better mental place than he has been in a long time, or maybe forever. We here on the outside of course don’t know, and won’t really know if the talk translates into action, and if his newfound dedication to craft, and refusal to carouse with a party posse is apparent come Saturday.
If not, and we have been covering this sport and engaged in this life long enough to know that peoples’ words and actions don’t always match up seamlessly, and Broner hasn’t been busting his hump in training like he insists he has, then we could see an upset on Showtime. The Granados who screwed up Imam’s 2016 is a busy bully, someone who presses forward with a clear and ferocious intent. He doesn’t look strong, but his will is XXL, if his physique doesn’t blow you away. He had Imam in trouble on the ropes and the Illinois man was not going to be put off from a stoppage.
Now, Broner should be fine. He is the better pugilist, the guy with the edge in gifts. The feet and fists, both work in concert when he’s on in a smoother fashion than the Chicago man is able to muster. Granados squares up, and while his legs have bounce, he lacks the mobilty to get the sort of angles he’d like on a Broner (32-2 with 24 KOs) like he did when snagging a surprise draw on a Kermit Cintron looking to get a bounceback win in 2013.
Yes, Granados is a guy who deserves a loss less, maybe more, on his ledger. But he can be hit; Gaku Takahashi did so when he and the Chicagoan danced in 2015.
And after the Imam win, Granados stayed busy with a W over a 12-14 guy. Broner is two steps, or more, up from there, even if Broner isn’t fated to be redeemed and rejuvenated as the narrative suggests he could or would be.
This one could be like the Mikey Garcia vs Dejan Zlaticanin scrap, with a buzz building pre-fight which had some thinking they’d see an upset special. And then on Jan. 28 class elevated itself, conclusively. There could be a talent gap on display at the Cintas Center and on Showtime Saturday night. Or, maybe Broner hasn’t fully reset his professionalism compass, and his inability to make the originally contracted for 142 pounds sends advance word that he is ripe to taste another bitter L.
You can see how this chapter ends Saturday night; Showtime televised coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with unbeaten light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne meeting former title challenger Thomas Williams Jr. in a 10-round showdown and also features WBA Welterweight Champion David Avanesyan battling former two-time world champion Lamont Peterson.