Three Punch Combo: Adrien Broner’s Uncertain Legacy and More

THREE PUNCH COMBO — Adrien Broner (33-2, 24 KO’s) faces Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO’s) on Saturday night in a pivotal junior welterweight bout. The fight is not only pivotal for Broner’s future in the sport but for his legacy. If beaten decisively by Garcia, Broner will become a footnote in the sport’s history as one of the greatest hype jobs in modern boxing.

Supporters of Broner will argue that he has won world titles in four different weight classes and that his legacy is intact. But who did he beat to win these belts? First it was Vicente Rodriguez of Argentina to win a 130-pound title. Rodriguez had a very checkered resume and was far from a world class fighter. Next came Antonio DeMarco for a lightweight belt. DeMarco is a skilled fighter but had previously struggled when he attempted to step up in class including being thoroughly dominated by Edwin Valero a few years prior to facing Broner.

Seven months after beating DeMarco, Broner then jumped to welterweight to face PaulieMalignaggi for a belt in that division. Malignaggi was coming off a controversial win against Pablo Cesar Cano and seemed to on the downside of his career. Broner was heavily favored but struggled mightily against Malignaggi that night. In the end, Broner picked up the belt with a close split decision win. Finally, there was Khabib Allakhverdiev for a 140-pound belt in 2015. Allakhverdiev is a solid fighter, comparable to DeMarco, but certainly not a world level type of guy. Broner easily picked him apart to earn another belt.

Despite winning four world titles, Broner has really faced only two elite fighters in the prime of their respective careers, first Marcos Maidana in 2013 and then Shawn Porter in 2015. On both occasions, Broner was favored partly due to the hype surrounding his career, but in each instance fell short as Maidana and Porter used their particular skills to expose Broner’s many flaws. Maidana brought an aggressive mauling style to the ring that Broner did not have answers for most of the night and Porter used boxing skill including a well-timed jab to outbox as well as out-hustle Broner.

So who has Broner beaten of note? It can be argued his best win came in 2011 against Daniel Ponce De Leon. At this point in Broner’s career, he was thought to be a future star capable of handling an aging but still dangerous Ponce De Leon, but Ponce De Leon gave Broner a fight. Broner got the nod, but many people believed that Ponce De Leon had done enough to earn the decision. Other than that, the aforementioned DeMarco is probably the best win on Broner’s resume. Then the list is filled with “B” and “C” level fighters, all of which had their certain flaws that made them easy pickings for Broner.

If Adrien Broner wants to be more than a footnote in the sport’s history as anything other than a brilliantly hyped fighter, he needs to beat Mikey Garcia this Saturday.

Under the Radar Fights

After a slow week in the sport this past week, the schedule heats up again for the last week in July. The busy weekend has led to some intriguing fights flying under the radar.

Top Rank made a lot of news a few weeks ago with its deal with ESPN to broadcast its bigger fights on that network. But a little forgotten has been that several months earlier Golden Boy Promotions also cut a deal with the network, albeit on a much smaller budget than Top Rank’s. Thus far, the matchmaking on Golden Boy’s shows has been superb and continues this Saturday with what should be an excellent welterweight fight between Sadam Ali (24-1, 14 KO’s) and Johan Perez (22-3-2, 15 KO’s).

Ali is a classic boxer-puncher who tends to make for exciting fights due to some defensive inefficiencies. He has won two straight since losing to Jessie Vargas last year and a win against Perez puts him right back in the hunt for some of the bigger names at welterweight. Perez has an aggressive style and is not afraid to exchange with his opponents. There is no doubt in my mind we will see a good action fight here in what continues to be a good run of fights on the Golden Boy on ESPN series.

Flying deep under the radar is another card on Saturday that will be televised by CBS Sports Network and features featherweight prospect Tramaine Williams (11-0, 4 KO’s) squaring off against veteran William Gonzalez (30-7, 26 KO’s). The story here is Williams. There is no disputing his talent. His hand speed is blazing (on par with the hand speed of Gary Russell Jr.). However, while the talent is there to potentially be a pound for pound entrant someday, there are questions surrounding him, namely can he stay out of prison where he has spent too much of his adult life. If Williams can turn things around in his personal life and get focused on boxing, he may be something special. Check him out this week and the incredible talent he possesses as he is a treat to watch in the ring.

It is going to be a busy Saturday in boxing. The DVR may have to be set for a few of these fights but they will well be worth watching.

Random Thoughts

The action inside the ring is heating up this summer and outside the ring there have been plenty of newsworthy events. With that said, here are some random thoughts.

Count me amongst those who are not buying the rumors of a Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight later this year. It just does not make sense for Wilder. Instead, expect Wilder’s team to take a wait-and-see approach on an Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko rematch. If the rematch does not happen, Wilder’s team will probably pursue the fight with Joshua. If it does happen, then expect a less threatening opponent for Wilder later this year. Given Bermane Stiverne’s status as Wilder’s mandatory, that rematch is very possible despite the fact that Wilder was totally dominant in the first installment. Again, it is about risk/reward and Wilder’s camp can blame the WBC for mandating the bout. If Wilder’s camp decides on another direction and can get Stiverne to accept some step-aside money, then two other possibilities would be Jarrell Miller and Dominic Breazeale. Miller would have to beat Gerald Washington this Saturday, of course, and could then conceivably talk himself into a fight with Wilder. And remember what happened in February between Wilder and Breazeale? It was almost as if seeds were being planted for a rematch.

Victor Ortiz (31-6-2, 24 KO’s) returns on Sunday July 30th to headline a PBC on FS1 card when he faces journeyman Saul Corral (25-9, 16 KO’s) in a welterweight contest. Keep in mind that last month Brandon Rios returned to the ring on a PBC on FS1 card to stop journeyman Aaron Herrera. See where I am going with this? Like it or not, an Ortiz-Rios grudge match seems inevitable. Both Fox and PBC are spending time building both Ortiz and Rios back up, so expect to see the fight toward the end of the year on either FS1 or Fox.

Speaking of FS1, the PBC has not been doing much to get the word out on their shows. There was very little buzz surrounding last Tuesday’s FS1 card that saw Chris Avalos (27-5, 20 KO’s) score an upset over Miguel Flores (21-2, 9 KO’s) in the featured bout. It’s too bad because the fight itself was fought in a phone booth and provided plenty of excitement. It ended in controversy too with the doctor stopping the contest after the fifth round due to a bad cut over Flores’ left eye. The Flores camp claimed the cut was caused by a head butt and should have gone to the cards where Flores was ahead on all three scorecards, but the referee ruled it came from a punch and awarded the TKO win to Avalos. Here is a thought, how about a rematch on a bigger platform after the cut heals with some buildup to it? If you missed the fight, try to check it out as it was a barnburner that was fun to watch.

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