Adrien “Problem” Broner 29-1 (22KO), comfortable in his Cincinnati, OH backyard, took a while to soften up Emmanuel Taylor 18-3 (12KO). The Problem child pulled away in the last quarter, topping off things for his fans by dropping Taylor with a hard left uppercut in the last round at the U.S. Bank Arena. Broner got what he wanted, a big win over a tough opponent. In a way, Taylor got what he wanted too. He proved his critics wrong by putting on a better showing than they thought possible.
Taylor’s early aggression kept the fight close. He prevented Broner from using his jab. Broner was limited to his “check hooks”, most of which missed or were blocked. Broner and Taylor both landed good body shots, but Broner’s had more mustard on them. Showtime announcer Paulie Malignaggi remarked on the quality of the action, stressing both men were technically sound and demonstrating a lot of skill. The fouls and dirty tactics were held to a minimum, and referee Randy Jarvis held a relatively easy time of it. There were a few warnings here and there for use of the elbow and occasional holding.
Over the majority of the close rounds, Broner’s body shots started to take their toll. Taylor slowed down from about the ninth round on, and Broner took advantage of it by using a hard jab to both the head and body He topped things off with more left hooks to the body. In close, he managed to get in some short counter right hands. In the last quarter of the fight, Broner had the distance he wanted and needed to do his best work. His combinations were delivered with more steam, and were flashy enough to get some oohs and aahhs out of the hometown crowd.
In the tenth round, Broner had a bit of a scare as he came away from a clash of heads with a small cut to the outside corner of his right eye. It was the first time in his career that he suffered a cut. After the initial concerns, the small cut didn’t prove to be a problem, and Broner continued with his beat down.
In the twelfth round, Broner set up the hard left uppercut by first throwing three or four light punches, and then the zinger came. I first learned the importance of such a strategy when watching Smokin Joe Frazier dismantle Jerry Quarry. Up until that time, I mistakenly thought Frazier threw everything hard. Against Quarry, I noticed Joe would keep the pressure on with a mixture of force. At times he would tap tap and then the zinger would come through.
In Broner’s case, his zinger put Taylor on his back with his right leg bent underneath him. Fortunately for Taylor, the final bell soon sounded, so he was able to survive and avoid a knockout loss. In the post-fight interview with Showtime Jim Gray, he seemed okay with the decision loss, because he felt most of his critics thought he would get knocked out.
Broner was his usual annoying self in his post-fight interview, but Gray was able to get out of him his desire to fight Lucas Matthysse next. The Problem child boasted he would fight him tonight, cut eye and all. Time will tell if he gets his wish. If so, he might regret it if he is tagged as much by Matthysse as he was by Taylor.
In the co-feature, Lucas Matthysse 36-3 (34KO) was the rewarded with a quick stoppage by referee Benjy Esteves, jr. Roberto Ortiz 31-1-1 (24KO) seemed to be a bit of a puzzle for Matthysse with his herky jerky style. It seemed more jerky. You knew it was only a matter of time before Matthysse would get his range and start landing bombs.
In the second round, Lucas stepped in with a beautiful left to the liver. Ortiz grimaced in pain and took to his knees. Benjy. closed in and started the count. He made sure he was right in Ortiz’s field of vision, and when Ortiz finally started to rise, Benjy waived him off, signifying that Ortiz didn’t beat the count. Replays seemed to show that Ortiz might have got of the canvas at the count of nine. In a post fight interview (off camera), Benjy told Jim Grey that Ortiz did not beat the count.
There was a interesting by play between Showtime announcers Paulie Malignaggi and Al Berstein. Paulie speculated that Benjy might have waived things off because Ortiz deliberately spit out his mouth piece, which would require more time to get rinsed off and replaced. In other words, Paulie thought Benjy purposely didn’t give Ortiz the extra second because of it. Bernstein argued (correctly) that there’s no such rule, and that couldn’t possibly be the reason Benjy waived off the fight. Of course, Al was right, something Paulie later acknowledged.
That left fans with what appeared to be, as Brian Kenny bellowed, a “blown call”. All four announcers, in unison, felt Benjy to be an excellent referee, but on this night they felt he blew it! Although, everyone also felt that had Ortiz been allowed to continue, it was only a matter of time before Matthysse would have gotten to him, and put him down and out for a true ten count. The point is Ortiz deserved the chance to prove them wrong.
In the first fight, Andre Berto 29-3 (22KO)made his comeback of sorts from a shoulder injury. Berto looked strong and healthy, landing solid jabs, followed with ripping combinations. Steve Upsher Chambers 24-4-1 (6KO) initially avoided most of the jabs, but for some reason he stopped moving his head. As a result, Berto fed him a steady diet of power jabs. Chambers’ face started to lump up, and Berto mixed in some uppercuts for good measure.
In the end, Berto got what he wanted, a strong victory and a chance to maybe get back into the thick of things. Although he wouldn’t admit it, he seemed winded and tired in his post-fight interview with Jim Gray. Berto realizes he is in one of the strongest weight divisions (welterweight) in boxing, but he expressed confidence in his restored abilities. He definitely has his work cut out for him.