THREE PUNCH COMBO: This week it was announced that Adrien Broner would face Mikey Garcia (pictured following his smashing knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin) in late July in what is a significant fight for both men. The match-up has raised a lot of eyebrows in the boxing community as Garcia is not the type of opponent that Broner has typically faced. Could it be that for a variety of reasons Broner is being cashed out by his longtime advisor Al Haymon to help build the budding career of a potential star in Garcia?
In his current three fight winning streak, Broner opposed Khabib Allakhverdiev, Ashley Theophane and Adrian Granados. All three are solid fighters but all had weaknesses that were easily exploited by Broner. They were slower than Broner and not big punchers so Broner could work when he wanted without fear of what would come back from these fighters. Broner has built his persona throughout his career on these types of carefully selected opponents.
Broner has also run into trouble with the law and has been doing so on a more frequent basis of late. This has to be very concerning to those around him. Al Haymon has been credited with carefully building Broner, but Haymon is a businessman and may sense the time is ripe to cash out Broner to build the career of another. Mikey Garcia is just that type of fighter that needs a big name on his resume to bolster his own future in the sport.
Garcia is the type of opponent that Broner and his team have avoided throughout his career. Garcia is a skilled fighter with a deep boxing background and knows how to fight. He is a very sharp puncher with fast hands and one punch power. Garcia is the type of fighter that can easily expose Broner’s many flaws. Broner, for example, often carries his hands low daring his opponents to lead. He can get away with this tactic facing slower opponents or opponents who are not big punchers. Garcia will not be afraid to take the lead with an opponent who has his hands at his hips and find that to be easy target practice. Broner also typically fights in spurts and when he is done fighting in a spurt often admires his work by posing in front of his opponents. If he does this against Garcia, Broner will get countered with hard power shots.
Of all the possible opponents on the radar for Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia would have probably been the least likely to get the call to face him. But Broner’s act may have finally grown old with Haymon. This appears to be a classic case of one fighter being cashed out to build the career of another.
The Return of Brandon Rios
After nearly a two year absence from the ring, Brandon Rios returns next Sunday to face veteran Aaron Herrera. The fight will headline a PBC on FS1 show and a win by Rios could put him in line for one of the many welterweights under the PBC banner by year’s end.
When we last saw Rios in the ring in November of 2015, he was dominated and stopped by Timothy Bradley. It was a performance that Rios would certainly like to forget and one in which he frankly looked like a shopworn fighter. His decision to retire after that bout seemed like a wise one as he had been involved in his share of wars, but after some time away the itch to give the sport another try was too much to resist.
Herrera is the perfect opponent for Rios in this comeback bid. Herrera is a tough aggressive fighter but very limited. He will be right in front of Rios and there will not be any issues with Rios finding him. Herrera has a somewhat questionable chin too, having been stopped on three occasions. This is the type of opponent that Rios can look somewhat decent against to build momentum toward fighting a name at welterweight later this year.
And who could that name be? Well, as stated above, this fight with Herrera is being fought under the PBC banner. PBC has a lot of welterweights and many are looking for fights at the moment. But one name stands out from the rest of potential opponents. That name is Victor Ortiz. Rios and Ortiz were rumored to be close to agreeing to terms earlier this year and the fight seems a natural. Both are at the point in their respective careers where they now need each other. The fight would draw a lot of interest. This couldn’t be anything but a war with the winner moving on to something bigger at welterweight or possibly even a rematch.
If Ortiz is not interested in restarting his career, another name to watch for Rios is Lamont Peterson. I wrote last week that Peterson will certainly be in play as an opponent for Errol Spence. But if a Spence fight does not happen for Peterson, a bout with Rios makes sense. It was Rios that handed Lamont’s brother Anthony his first professional loss in 2010. So there is a revenge factor in the equation. Plus, it’s a low risk crossroads fight for Peterson in that he’d be heavily favored, would be making a decent paycheck, and a win would make him more marketable down the road. As for Rios, Peterson would be a less risky fight than say someone like Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia.
Brandon Rios is returning to the ring this week and a decent performance should set him up for a more significant fight down the road. With the many names available at welterweight, the temptation to come back and get a big fight was too much to keep Rios retired.
Remembering a Forgotten Ali Fight
With the first anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s death upon us, there have been a lot of remembrances about Ali’s life and times. With such an extensive career, there have been some fights of his that have gone forgotten during the course of time. One such fight took place on February 20th, 1976, when Ali made his lone ring appearance in Puerto Rico to defend his heavyweight title against Jean-Pierre Coopman.
Four months earlier, Ali defeated Joe Frazier in “The Thrilla in Manila.” Following the Frazier fight, Ali was hoping to maximize the earning potential of what remained of his career. Entering 1976, he had an ambitious schedule set out to fight every couple months and make as much money as possible. Coming off the brutal war with Frazier and with a busy schedule planned ahead, his team was looking for what they hoped would be an easy touch to start things off.
Enter Jean-Pierre Coopman. A heavyweight from Belgium, Coopman was molded in a similar manner to that of an earlier Ali opponent in Chuck Wepner. Coopman had a 24-3 record and entered the Ali fight on an 11-fight winning streak. But he had few recognizable names on his resume with almost all his fights having taken place in Belgium and some questionable losses including one by knockout to a fighter with a 5-17-1 record.
CBS purchased the rights and showed the fight live in primetime in the United States. Tickets were pricey but sales went very well with a crowd of around 10,000. All of this despite the fact that the fight was widely viewed as an absurd mismatch.
The opening round showed the wide difference in class between Ali and Coopman. Coopman was aggressive, constantly coming forward, but Ali, using ring movement, showed his class working behind the jab and popping off fast combinations to the head. The challenger held his left hand low and Ali snuck in a few quick straight right hands as well. When Coopman did try to punch, it was one at a time, often missing, or if the shot did get somewhat through it was mostly picked off by Ali. The difference in speed and skill was very evident.
The second followed a similar pattern as the first. About halfway through the round, Ali really opened up, firing off a barrage of punches, one after the other, in the middle of the ring. Coopman’s face was turning beet red and his left eye was damaged as the round came to an end.
It was more the same in the third and fourth rounds. Round five began with Ali using his legs much more, dancing around the ring as Coopman continued to pursue. Towards the end of the round, Ali opened up, landing a combination of punches that showcased his blindingly fast hands. Coopman appeared stunned from the volley which Ali finished off with a short right uppercut that landed flush. Coopman was hurt by the punch and fell towards Ali who gave Coopman a little shove before he collapsed to the canvas. Grasping his left eye while down, Coopman was unable to beat the count, leaving Ali the knockout winner.
Following the Coopman fight, Ali would continue with the plan to fight often in 1976. Two months later, he would decision Jimmy Young in Maryland in a much tougher fight than anticipated and then return to the ring less than a month later to stop Richard Dunn in Germany. Four months later, Ali would earn a much bigger paycheck than his earlier bouts in 1976 in his rubber match against Ken Norton. Ali would of course escape the Norton fight with a controversial decision.
Coopman would return to fighting mostly in Belgium following the Ali fight. In 1977, Coopman reached the high mark of his career winning the European heavyweight title but would lose it in his first defense later that year.
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