This Saturday, BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) subscribers get the privilege to assess the man touted as the future of US boxing when Adrien Broner makes a second (and he insists final) defence of his WBO super-featherweight crown against Woodland, California’s Vincente Escobedo at the US Bank Arena, in his home city of Cincinnati.
For once you sense that the product might actually fit the hype regarding ‘Mayweather-clone’ Broner, who began honing his craft at the Mount Auburn Community Center gym when he was just six. Following a decorated 300 bout amateur career, the 22 year old showman has cruised to 23 straight victories since vaulting into the profession in May 2008.
Promoted Golden Boy and broadcast on HBO in the US, there is no disputing that the 5ft 7in starlet is an A plus natural talent, blessed with both the sizzle and spite to crash the pound for pound listings over the next 12 months. Thus far, only former WBO super-bantam boss Daniel Ponce De Leon (41-2 at the time) has come close to inconveniencing the ascent of the man known as ‘The Problem’. Even he was beaten unanimously over 10 rounds in Anaheim 16 months back.
Subsequently, serious players such as Jason Litzau (28-2), Vincente Martin Rodriguez (34-2-1) and Eloy Perez (unbeaten in 25) have been demolished in one, three and four rounds respectively. The latter two routs saw Broner capture and retain the WBO 130lb belt that Coatbridge’s Ricky Burns held previously.
En route, he has revealed himself to be a proper athlete; a classical counterpuncher laden with blistering speed, balletic feet and crunching power. Nineteen victims have crumbled early, 10 in the opening frame, and the scuds are unleashed from both barrels.
And he has that brash ‘marmite’ personality that makes him ‘must watch’. Already a father of three, Broner is an incorrigible smack talker who struts to the ring sporting designer shades and reciting rap. Once his execution is complete, he celebrates with a back flip then orders his father to brush his barnet in preparation for his post fight interview! Love him or loathe him, the American braggart brings something fresh to those of us exhausted by the Mayweather-Pacquiao, ‘will they, won’t they’ saga.
He’s certainly up against a ‘live’ one in Escobedo. A former US amateur champion who represented the States at both the 2003 World Amateur Championships in Bangkok and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (where he was outscored by the Azerbaijan rep in the second series), the hardy Californian should be close to his physical prime at 30.
Though ‘Chente’s’ ring portfolio shows three reverses in 29 pro gigs, two came on split verdicts – including a September 2009 WBO interim lightweight challenge to formidable Aussie Michael Katsidis – and the other was by 10 round decision to state rival and two weight world champion Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero. No disgrace there.
Having conducted the majority of his eight year pro career up at 135lbs, the Mexican-American shall enter with nominal edges in height and reach plus a significant sway in experience. He was good enough to scalp current WBA welter boss Paulie Malignaggi in the amateurs and sent another two former world champions, Carlos Hernandez and Kevin Kelley, into retirement following back-to-back wins in 2009.Though he enters Broner’s yard as an 8-1 underdog, one senses ‘The Problem’ shall be forced to really earn any victory.
The defending champion insists this shall be his final foray at 130lbs and, provided he isn’t weight-drained, I anticipate that it shall be a successful one. Prior indications suggest he’ll arrive with more than enough speed and skill to stay a move in front of the rugged but essentially conventional challenger. Were Broner to become the first to stop Escobedo, however, it would serve notice that he is indeed the complete package.
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