Adrien Broner, Falling in Love Again
By Robert Ecksel on February 19, 2021
“In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back.”
On Saturday, February 20, in a fight televised live on Showtime from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, former four-division champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), the social media sensation from Cincinnati, Ohio, returns to active duty after a two-year hiatus to face undefeated Jovanie Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs), from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in a super lightweight bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
After flirting with higher weights, with mixed results, Broner is returning to 140 where he found fame and fortune and can hopefully resuscitate his flagging career.
Next to nothing is known about Broner’s opponent, which is perhaps for the best, as it adds an air of uncertainty to a fight he needs to win and hopefully conclusively. Despite his natural gifts, fast hands, good reflexes, a solid, beard, and the unrelenting hype surrounding Broner when he was taken seriously, most observers believe he failed to live up to his early promise. But before writing him off, it’s worth remembering he is only 31 and again fighting at his natural weight. He may not have what it takes to defeat the elite super lightweights, four of whom, Manny Pacquiao (2019), Mikey Garcia (2017), Shawn Porter (2015), and Marcos Maidana (2013), beat him by unanimous decisions. But despite his flaws, and who among us is without flaws, Broner remains a big personality, grating to some, endearing to others, who can still talk a good fight.
“Santiago is hungry,” Broner said. “He’s still undefeated and he definitely doesn’t want to lose. It’s going to be a great fight. He’s definitely going to come to fight. Anybody that has a chance to fight an Adrien Broner to put their career up another step, they’re going to bring their A-game.”
Santiago’s A-game will likely not be enough. He is undefeated, but the men he beat were either past their prime or looking forward to the day their prime arrived.
Broner continued, “He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got great skills. But I just think I’m on a different level. February 20 people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon.”
The Broner bandwagon offers a bumpy ride. But it will ostensibly get one from point A to point B.
“Even if I didn’t have these pending court cases against me, I’d still be working my ass off to come back and make a fortune. That has nothing to do with my motivation. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. The motivation is that I miss the sport. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion.
“I’ve found my love for boxing again.”
Since love is war and love is blind and love is a four-letter word and a losing game, Broner professing his newfound love almost makes a weird kind of sense. He may have dropped 35 pounds to make weight for the fight, but he’ll have to straighten up and fly right after he defeats Santiago to satisfy the future.
“I just need to go back to the gym after the fight,” he said. “I’m trying to stay out of as much trouble as possible, stay out of jail and just work my ass off. I’m going to dedicate these last three to five years to straight boxing. I’m going to get as much as I can out of boxing and then retire and watch my kids grow up. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just time to get to business, make my money and do what I do best, and that’s box.”
When asked if he had any advice for up-and-comers hoping to follow in his footsteps, Broner said, “Just stay in the gym as much as possible. Don’t be blinded by the money and the lights and the girls and the partying life. I’m not saying don’t live your life. You can’t just box, box, box your whole life. You just have to stay relaxed.”