Adrien Broner is reportedly set to return to the ring on July 23 in Chicago, facing Omar Figueroa Jr in a Showtime main event, and Broner insists he’s taking the return seriously and aiming to become a champion again.
Broner vs Figueroa was originally meant to happen in 2018, didn’t, and we’re getting it now, when it’s a lot colder as a matchup. But there is some intrigue in there beyond whether either man is a top tier welterweight, which is good, because it would be impossible to honestly say either is at the moment.
Chiefly, what do either of these guys have left? How much do either of them even care anymore? Those may not be questions that interest a lot of people, but for me, there’s something there.
For his part, Broner is talking the right game ahead of time.
“I’ve been working my ass off and I see a lot of people left me and think I won’t be champion again,” Broner wrote on social media. “I’ve been in camp for two-and-a-half months training by myself, working my ass off alone, when usually it’s 15 or 20-plus people on the side of me while I’m training; no matter if they’re holding water or Powerade for me or holding the bag while I’m working out or they’re just there encouraging me to push myself.
“Now it’s just me, (trainer Mike Stafford), and (cutman Levi Smith), and I wanna keep it this way. Ain’t no hard feelings to nobody but just keep the same energy when I’m back CHAMPION!!!!!!! Some of the closest people switched up on me and I’m fine with their decision ‘cause I know I’m a hustla. I started this shit alone and I’m gonna finish this shit alone.”
In other words, Broner is adamant that he’s actually training, training seriously, and not allowing for distractions as he prepares to return.
That’s good, if it’s actually the case, because it’s been a rough five years for Broner (34-4-1, 24 KO) as far as in-ring results and performances. His 2017 win over Adrian Granados was a debated split decision, he lost clearly to Mikey Garcia, had to rally to secure a draw with Jessie Vargas, lost clearly to Manny Pacquiao, and then had a debated decision win over Jovanie Santiago.
And to go with all that, Broner’s two-year absence after the Pacquiao fight saw him return with not only an iffy showing against Santiago, but to abnormally low attention from what had long been a loyal fan base. His numbers on Showtime for that fight were dismal compared to what Broner has generally done in his career; even when he’s struggled to win or had setbacks in the ring, his fans had stuck with him. That wasn’t really the case last time out.
But this time, to be fair, he won’t be in a “bubble” setting, boxing is currently pretty hot, and he has an opponent with more name value than Santiago had.
Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KO) has also had a rough go of it recently, losing two straight to Yordenis Ugas and Abel Ramos, and his loss to Ramos 13 months ago had him looking like a guy who maybe shouldn’t fight anymore. Not because he’s old, but he just didn’t seem really “in it” at all. He threw punches — which by itself could be problematic for Broner — but Ramos just dominated him and beat the fight out of him over six rounds.
Truthfully, I don’t think we have any truly clear idea what either of these guys will bring to the ring next month; you can make educated guesses and might be right, but these are two fighters on the very fringes of remaining relevant on the larger scale, which really makes you wonder about this being a premium cable main event, maybe, but, well, y’know.