Saturday night (9 pm ET) on Showtime, Adrien “The Problem” Broner will break a two-year-plus layoff from the ring, facing unbeaten but known Jovanie Santiago in a 12-round junior welterweight main event from Uncasville, Conn.
Broner (33-4-1, 24 KO) is 0-2-1 in his last three fights, and hasn’t actually won a fight in four years, when he took a split decision over Adrian Granados. There are big questions about where Broner is going to be in the ring, what he’ll have left, what sort of condition and mental mindset he’ll be in for this fight. If Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KO) turns out to be a tough customer, how will he respond?
Broner had some of his normal verbal flair and confidence at Thursday’s final press conference, but also sounded a little more restrained than normal.
“I’ve had so many great performances and I’m looking forward to another great performance Saturday night. I know he’s coming to fight, he’s undefeated and he’s hungry, Broner said. “Anybody who fights a name like Adrien Broner is going to always train to their best ability so I’m not looking at this as a fight where I just go in and destroy this guy. I’m just going to go to do what I have to do to get the victory, look good inside and outside the ring.”
Still just 31, Broner is confident he’ll get back to the top of the sport. He’s coming back at 140 pounds, which is probably his optimum weight at this stage of his career, and said, “Listen, if you got a belt, just hold on to it. I’m coming to sweep it all up; WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF. I’m coming to get them all.”
Broner also touched on his absence from the sport for the past 25 months, which included a lot of trouble outside the ring, headlines he didn’t want. He says he let his body “heal and rest,” and that he’d never taken a real break from boxing since he started at six years old.
“I went through a lot of things, honestly. One day, I just woke and said, ‘I’m done.’ In order to change, you’ve got to make change or you’ll steady get caught up doing the same thing,” Broner said. “I cut a lot of stuff, I stopped doing a lot of stuff and I got myself together. It was a long road to get to where I’m at today and now I’m here.”
For Santiago, also 31, this is a monster career opportunity, and he’s fully aware of that. He’s coming basically out of obscurity with a chance to knock off someone who still has some real name value.
“I’m going to show who I am. I’m going to show Adrien Broner that I’m ready to fight,” the Puerto Rican said. “Whatever Broner brings to the table, I’m going to beat him on Saturday night. I’m ready for this fight.”
Santiago also suspects that, no matter what Broner says, he might be overlooking his underdog, unknown opponent.
“I think Adrien Broner thinks that I’m an easy fight for him, but he’s wrong about that. I think Broner is going to let go of his hands because he sees me as a weak opponent. He’s definitely overlooking me,” Santiago stated.
“Whatever Broner brings to the table, I’m going to be ready for it. If he moves, I’m going to move with him. If he wants to brawl, I’m going to brawl. Whatever he does, I’m going to do it better than he does.”
Broner, for what it’s worth, insisted he’s not looking past Santiago, and that the focus is fully on getting the win Saturday, then going from there.
“I know a lot of people don’t know these guys, but guys like Jovanie can be very dangerous because a lot of people don’t know him,” Broner said. “I know better, he’s coming to fight, he’s a good fighter and undefeated, so I have to stay on my A-game. I’m going in to get the victory. Whatever presents itself; if the knockout presents itself, I’m taking it. You don’t get paid for overtime but I’m definitely coming to get my win.
“The overall goal is to get past this fight first. In boxing, you can’t look past no opponent. I don’t care how everything looks on paper. In boxing, you’re only one punch away from a knockout and that’s on both ends. So what I’ve got to do is go in, get my victory, get my hands raised first, and then we’re gonna go to the drawing board. So the plan for me is to get my victory Saturday night.”