Weight woes for Adrien Broner dominated the lead-in to the main event at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio Saturday, in a bout shown on HBO, and in fact, almost scrapped the event for TV. But Broner showed the skills that had us talking about him, as opposed to his flippant disregard for some of the standards of the sport, as he patiently hacked away at Vicente Escobedo, and whaled away at him in round five, forcing the loser's trainer to wave a white flag towel in surrender.
The end came at 2:42, as ref Gary Rosato concurred with trainer Joel Diaz, and we can now all keep our fingers crossed that weigh-in foolishness is over for Broner, who probably lost as many fans as he gained in the last two days with his disregard for the rich tradition of trying to adhere to some basic rules.
Broner went 114-257, while the loser was 58-232, so it was clear he had the edge in punchstats, if not class and dignity. Escobedo got teary post-fight, as he lamented the loss and contemplated what the stoppage means to him moving forward, a first time father now entrusted with providing for a baby girl.
After the scrap, Broner, down on one knee, hinting at a proposal, asked a galpal to brush his hair. He then got a bit more serious. Max Kellerman said he had a weight advantage, and he said he outgrew the weight class, and that is that. Max gave him the opportunity to be humble, but he eschewed that, and joked that he Tweeted a pic of Twinkees because he is addicted to them, and was asked by HBO pre-fight about any secret weakness. He said Antonio DeMarco, or Juan Manuel Marquez or Brandon Rios could be next. He then asked people to follow him on Twitter. Props must be givem he has us fooled, thinking he would propose to the lady; I do wonder if she was in on it, or is now an ex galpal, not happy with being a pawn in this prank. I will say this, same as I say of Floyd Mayweather--Broner does help me do my jab, by being "interesting."
Esco said after that Broner was faster, had power, and did back up his talk. Did the weight matter? "I'm not the judge of that," he said. He said, though, that he was pro, made weight, Broner didn't, but that Broner was the better man. He got teary, and said that was because he missed his family, and was bummed he didn't get a "fair fight." It was clear he was trying not to offer excuses, but that the circumstances did nag at him.
The WBO junior lightweight belt was on the line for Escobedo, but not Broner, who was stripped of the strap for being over weight.
The Cinci resident Broner (23-0 with 19 KO coming in) was 133 1/2 pounds on Friday, 143 on Saturday AM, while Escobedo (26-3 entering), coming down from 135, was 130 on Friday, and 142 on fight night. Broner was 147 on fight night, for the record.
The Californian Esco came to the ring to Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight" with the knowledge that his purse, win or lose, would go toward a few years of college for his six week old baby. The first time father said he has more drive now to succeed in the ring. "I have a lot on my plate, but it's good food," he said of the baby girl new to the world.
Kellerman, before the fight started, opined that Broner should have moved to 135 if he knew 130 was not doable for him. He said if Broner wins, and looks spectacular, he will only break even, probably, in the eyes of the fans. Broner came to the ring mugging for the camera, chains heavy around his neck, with rapper Wacka Flocka alongside him. He didn't look repentant.
In the first, both men used the jab to set things up. Broner had a hand speed edge for all to see. In round two, a right uppercut buzzed Esco. Broner chopped rights to the body, as he calmly assessed the man on the defensive. Trainer Mike Stafford asked for feints after the round, and said he wanted the right hand over the top, and more body work, to both sides. He also asked for uppercuts from Broner.
In the third, we heard Roy Jones say that a man showing that left shoulder, a la Mayweather, as a defensive tactic, can be exploited. But he then refused to say how, saying it was not his place, rather bizarrely, in my opinion, so we didn't hear how Esco might be able to get at Broner. Harold Lederman had Broner up 3-0 after three, liking his jab and his D. Esco smartly tried to work downstairs, mostly with the left hand, in round four. The round was pretty darned close.
In the fifth, Broner stepped it up. Blood came from Esco's nose and face. He looked to back him up, but still tilted his head back, a la Floyd, and kept that right tucked high in defense. Joel Diaz stepped up with a white towel as his man took clean shots. I didn't see that intercession coming, but always always always, I like to see a trainer, or a ref, pull the plug too early, rather than too late.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV