THREE PUNCH COMBO — Adrien Broner returns to the ring following a ten month layoff to face veteran Adrian Granados this Saturday in Broner’s hometown of Cincinnati, OH. Broner will be heavily favored as he hopes to use this fight as a springboard toward bigger things down the road but Granados (pictured in the gray trunks) could very well spoil those plans.
The ingredients are there for an upset. Broner’s focus on this fight has to be questioned. He is not only involved in the promotion of this event but was also the promoter of record for last Friday’s PBC card in Toledo, OH. Also, Broner recently had the contracted weight for the bout amended from 142 to 147 pounds. The reason given for the change was that Broner missed some camp due to being sick and lost the necessary time to cut the weight. However, the question has to be asked how serious Broner has trained for this fight. He has missed weight twice before in hometown events when facing overmatched opponents on paper and may be assuming this will be another cakewalk.
Granados is a much better fighter than his record indicates and has been getting better each time out. He is coming off a career best win in stopping previously undefeated top prospect Amir Imam and has a history of giving top opponents tough fights. In 2014, he gave the very skilled Felix Diaz a stern test in dropping a majority decision. This was a fight Granados was arguably winning before getting dropped late in the fight. He then gave undefeated Brad Solomon a tough test his next time out in dropping a controversial split decision. Going back a few years, a much rawer Granados gave the talented Frankie Gomez his toughest fight to date in losing a close majority decision.
There is another component to Granados that makes him a live underdog. He has the style to beat Broner who often fights in spots and does not generally have a high punch volume. Broner has issues with fighters who throw a high volume of punches. Granados can be a punching machine and generally throws a high volume of punches. He can win the dead spots when Broner is not moving his hands. Plus, if Broner is not in the best of shape that only increases the odds that Granados can out-hustle him and carry rounds with activity alone.
The ingredients are in place for tough, determined Adrian Granados to pull off boxing’s first big surprise in 2017.
About Some Recent Announced Fights
This week, a pair of fights were announced that have not gotten much attention but are very interesting matchups. One is a battle between undefeated fighters Antonio Orozco and Keandre Gibson slated for ESPN on April 1st. The other features Claressa Shields headlining a ShoBox card on March 3rd against Szilvia Szabados.
I was very critical of Golden Boy’s first fight on their landmark deal with ESPN that features Jason Quigley facing a shopworn Glen Tapia. But Golden Boy deserves credit for putting together a solid main event in the second card on the series. Orozco vs. Gibson is the type of headliner that is needed for the series to be a success. It is an evenly matched fight between two fighters who need a statement win in their respective careers. Plus, this is an interesting matchup of contrasting styles that should make for good television. Orozco is an aggressive boxer-puncher who is willing to take a few punches to get in his own shots. Gibson relies more on lateral movement and trying to beat opponents with his speed. It’s a very interesting fight.
Showtime is making a commitment to women’s boxing in 2017 and this is a big positive for the sport. In January, the network broadcast a bout featuring the very talented Amanda Serrano. And now, Showtime brings Claressa Shields into the mix in her second professional fight. Shields was, of course, a dominant amateur and she has the potential to be the next great fighter in women’s boxing. She is fun to watch as well. As evidenced by her pro debut, isn’t afraid to mix it up in the ring. Her opponent, Szilvia Szabados, is no slouch and very experienced as a pro. This should be a good litmus test for Shields and be a fight with plenty of action.
The fight schedule for 2017 continues to fill up with some interesting bouts. Though the above fights may not get a lot of press, these are a pair of intriguing bouts that should not be missed.
Remembering Naseem Hamed-Tom Johnson
February 8th marked the 20th anniversary of a significant but somewhat forgotten featherweight unification fight between “Prince” Naseem Hamed and Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson. This fight was highly anticipated by hardcore boxing fans and the end result propelled one fighter toward a Hall of Fame career.
Entering 1997, there were a lot of questions surrounding Naseem Hamed. A showman who garnered a lot of attention with his antics, he was becoming a boxing star in the UK but nobody knew if he could really fight. He had displayed tremendous punching power in dispatching of his often overmatched opponents and even won a featherweight belt, but nobody was really sure how his unorthodox style would equate against a top-level opponent.
Tom Johnson, a long time featherweight champion who had not lost a fight in nearly six years, was considered the first serious threat to Hamed’s budding stardom. Johnson was a very skilled fighter who was very technically sound. He did everything correct and by the book. There was a thought amongst a lot of boxing insiders that Johnson’s superior technique would expose all the incorrect things that Hamed did inside the ring.
The fight started off slowly with Johnson trying to figure out Hamed’s unusual style and Hamed showing more respect for Johnson than any previous opponent. In the third, Hamed’s power showed when he hurt Johnson with a left. But with his hands down and chin sticking out, Hamed was turned around with a right hand from Johnson at the end of the round that could have been scored a knockdown as Hamed’s glove appeared to touch the canvas.
Johnson was hurt again in the fourth and appeared out on his feet. But he managed to survive the round and then began to seize momentum in the fight, exposing Hamed’s defensive deficiencies in rounds five and six. But just as Johnson seemed to be gaining control, Hamed’s power appeared again as he hurt Johnson with left hands in the seventh. In the eighth, Hamed landed a barrage of big punches that had Johnson wobbling around the ring. A huge left uppercut would later put Johnson down and out to end the fight.
The importance of this fight for Hamed and his career cannot be understated. For the first time, he beat a top flight opponent. He also proved that his unconventional style could work against a seasoned pro as Johnson found it tough to get to Hamed despite the apparent openings. Finally, the power was undoubtedly real and had US network executives salivating. Later in the year, Hamed would sign with HBO and make his debut in his memorable fight at Madison Square Garden against Kevin Kelley.
Naseem Hamed proved to the world that he was an incredible ring talent when he took apart Tom Johnson 20 years ago in their somewhat forgotten featherweight unification fight. This fight gave Hamed tremendous credibility and propelled him forward to what would ultimately lead to a spot in Canastota, NY.
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