The man everyone loves to hate, Adrien Broner, will be taking on Russian import Khabib Allakhverdiev for the vacant WBA world super lightweight title tomorrow night. Live coverage of the Showtime broadcast will be handled by yours truly, so I figured I might as well give a quick preview of what's in store. I'd be happy to have you join me for the show, and we can pretend like Matthysse-Postol isn't happening at the same damn time, together.
Being that Allakhverdiev hasn't fought in a year-and-a-half, and Broner hasn't fought a southpaw in three years, there's really no great way of matching them up on tape (in a way to represent their current form). So what we'll do is take a look at some of the things I've seen from Allakhverdievin his last fight against Jessie Vargas, and look at some clips from Broner's performance against DeMarco several years back, the last time he faced a lefty.
We'll start with Allakhverdiev...
Starting from the first round of the Allakhverdiev's fight with Jessie Vargas it becomes pretty clear that he utilizes something of a pressure-counterpunching style. He often walks to his opponents, but usually not to throw punches straight away, but rather to probe his opponent and bait them into making mistakes where he likes to return fire. You can see him starting to probe and assess Vargas' movements and punching angles here, coming forward and using a lot of head movement.
Now obviously this is part of Allakhverdiev's strategy of feeling out his opponent early in a fight. As the fight progresses though, he still adopts this approach, but starts to pick his spots to lead. Below, you will see Allakhverdiev start to get into the rhythm he likes, popping the jab and then using some herky-jerky movements to try and set up his power punches.
Here you'll note that his body language gives a tell as to when he's looking to attack. You'll see him lunge in with a right hook after a few feints, and this is where I think Adrien Broner would like to take advantage to land his own counter left hook to neutralize Allakhverdiev's aggression.
Later in the fight, Allakhverdiev is down on the cards going into the tail end, but his approach remains the same - walking down his opponent, flicking some range finding jabs, and then looking for some counter opportunities. But when he does lead, he does so employing the typical soviet style of standing up tall with most of his weight on his back foot -- which doesn't give you the most range on your punches, as evidenced below.
Because Allakhverdiev keeps so much weight on his back foot, you can see that when he leads he has to push all his weight off his back foot to get extension on his punches, causing his back foot to come all the way off the mat and robbing him ofof leverage - even if he would've managed to land the shots. In this sequence you'll also even see his back foot coming off the mat for the right uppercut he tries to throw, which is a little awkward and sloppy - and again, bad for leverage.
Now this isn't to paint Allakhverdiev as some unrefined bum, he actually does have some good technical skills, but against Broner his best bet would be to deviate from this approach and try to outwork Broner on volume. Broner packs a bigger punch than Allakhverdiev and can be really accurate, so I really don't think he'll want too much slow-paced action where Broner can land the cleaner, harder shots that'll impress the judges.
Looking at this from Broner's perspective, he really is his own worst enemy in the ring. He's just going to have to spend more time punching than clinching if he wants to win. I'm not going to take any footage from the Shawn Porter fight here, because, well, there isn't much I can take from that performance, so let's look at his approach to the last time he fought a lefty.
When Broner fought Antonio DeMarco, you'll see that because the lead hands are often so close together, Broner likes to adopt a "touch & shoot" approach that he uses in several ways. He'll reach his left hand to touch DeMarco's right, attempting to keep his hand on top to knock DeMarco's down, and then either shoot his right hand in between or touch DeMarco's glove and then immediately throw a strong jab on the inside of it. Have a look.
This is a fairly typical approach to fighting a southpaw. When doing it the main goal, for either man, is to not let your opponent knock your lead hand down by getting their own on top of yours. The man who can keep his lead hand on top has the advantage of being able to swat down the opposing guard as well as being able to come over the top with their own offense. Of course there are many wrinkles to this approach as well, where you may want to draw your opponents hand high so you can come underneath it with an up-jab or the like (but that's a technical analysis for another day).
Getting to the point, this fight could have some dull moments with two fighters who are inclined to counter punch waiting on the other to lead. The good thing is, however, that Broner likes to stand in the pocket, and Allakhverdiev likes to move forward, so they should be in punching range early and often. If and when Broner gets him where he wants him, he should be able to get off his sharp combination punching.
On paper this is a fight Broner should win, but it shouldn't be easy as Allakhverdiev is certainly a capable operator. In my mind, this fight is really all about how much AB is really "About Business." Tomorrow night will reveal all. I look forward to hosting you.