On a cold January night in Cincinnati, Adrien Broner is accused of beating a man unconscious outside of a bowling alley, then allegedly taking money from the man’s pocket after losing a pile of cash at a high-stakes game. A week ago the incident was reported publicly, when it was discovered Cincinnati police had a warrant out for Broner’s arrest on felony assault and aggravated robbery charges.
“The Problem” had more problems when he came in .4 pounds over on Thursday for his IBF super lightweight title defense against Ashley Theophane at the DC Armory, televised on Spike TV Friday night—and consequently lost the IBF belt on the scale.
Aside from a landslide of allegations, one that’s not alleged about Broner has been his hollow claim that he’s a superstar. His career has been filled with far more flash than substance.
But at least Broner could take some solace that something good happened in 2016: He won a fight, stopping the undersized Theophane at 1:10 of the ninth round, before a sellout crowd of 8,172.
Though even when he wins, Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) still loses. He didn’t score many quality points with the boxing community even after he destroyed the Englishman, weighing at least 15 pounds more. Boos rained down on Broner in the eighth round as his lack of endurance began creeping up.
Overall, ripping through Theophane (39-7-1, 11 KOs) was one less problem The Problem had. Broner absorbed everything Theophane threw, and his shots carried far more impact. In the last minute of the third round, he had Theophane in trouble, pounding him against the ropes, making referee Luis Pabon lean in and take a good look.
From there, it seemed a matter of time before Broner would stop him. But as is Broner’s wont, The Problem has problems getting out of his own way. And for a brief spell, he let Theophane breath some life into what had been a lopsided fight until the sixth.
After the eighth, Floyd Mayweather, who had a war of words with Broner at the Thursday weigh-in, came running over to Theophane’s corner and yelled, “He’s getting tired!,” meaning Broner.
The words seemed to ignite Broner more than they did Theophane.
Broner came out pressing the action and landed a digging left to the body, followed by a right. Theophane went careening across the ring and it’s when Pabon saw enough and called it over at 1:10 of the ninth.
“I got to thank everyone who came out tonight because without you I couldn't have done this. Thanks to people in Cincinnati who are watching at home, but DC is my second home,” Broner said. “When people fight me, they come with their 'A' game, and he came with his 'A' game. But even his 'A' game wasn't enough tonight.
“As you know, I've been going through a lot and for me to come in here and bottle everything up and do what I did, I want to give myself a pat on the back. I’m a man, but at the end of the day, somebody that I look up to, someone that I admire took the chance to do and interview and talk bad about me. I'm a man—Floyd has got to see me. I come from nothing. I'm talking about water and Cornflakes. And I would never let a man disrespect me like that. So you gotta see me. I don't care if we're sparring or if we're fighting, let's get it on.”
And then he challenged Mayweather, who the only thing Broner may have in common with “Money” is his defensive shoulder roll.
On the TV co-feature portion, Robert Easter (17-0, 14 KOs) stopped Algenis Mendez (23-4-1, 12 KOs) at 2:43 of the fifth round, in what was scheduled 10-round lightweight fight. Easter is freakishly tall and rangy for a lightweight, and his size and reach disrupted anything Mendez tried to do.
Easter was in comfortable control of Mendez, but an overhand right dropped Mendez in the fifth. Mendez showed great courage in getting back on his feet, but it became apparent he couldn’t stand on his own when he titled back into the ropes. It’s when referee William Johnson prudently stopped it.
“My performance was okay,” Easter said. “I could have done better, but I'm happy. I got touched more than I expected. Once I settled down, I knew I was going to catch him. I had to stay patient. Two boxers makes for a boring fight. I wanted to go in there and brawl, but be smart. I knew when I stepped on the gas I would put him to bed and that's what I did. He was definitely the toughest opponent I have faced in a shorter fight. He is a former champ and he came in ready. This was a huge opportunity for me. Toledo, Ohio showed up tonight in DC and I'm just happy I got the knockout.”
Gervonta Davis (15-0, 14 KOs) and Guillermo Avila (15-6, 12 KOs) put on a very dramatic super featherweight fight that was scheduled for 10 rounds. You could tell in the first round that it wouldn’t go 10. Both never gave an inch. The fight was punctuated with torrid middle-of-the-ring exchanges.
The fourth round held particular intrigue. The two battered each other in a game of who could hit harder. In the truncated end, it wound up being Davis, who slugged Avila with a series of right upper cuts before the fight was waved over by referee Michelle Myers at :29 of the sixth round.
“I knew he was a strong opponent,’ Davis said. “He kept bouncing back and I actually thought he was going to get up at the end too. He is very experienced and I thank him for taking the fight. He brought out the best in me. There is always room to get better and better, but this is another step toward my dream. I’m happy with my performance and it is even more special to have done it where I made my pro debut, so close to home. I'm happy I could get this victory for my team, Floyd Mayweather and everyone that supports me.”
Anthony Peterson (37-1, 24 KOs) is trying to project himself back into the title scene again. But this wasn’t the way to do it, struggling against Samuel Neequaye (22-2, 15 KOs). It was actually a good fight, though if Peterson is supposed to be at an elite level, this wouldn’t have been as close as it was. The three judges scored the 10-round fight 97-93,100-90 and 96-94 all for Peterson, with the 96-94 score being the most accurate.
“I'm happy to be back,” Peterson said. “It felt good to get touched and get some work in. I haven't gone 10 rounds since March of 2014. A fighter is lying if he says he wants rounds. Fighters want the knockout, but I'm not complaining about getting the work in. He was a little more awkward than I thought he was going to be. He was tough. He threw some wide shots. When you take a shower, do you expect to get wet? Well, when you fight, you better expect to get hit. I am more ready now than ever. I want to stay busy.”
On the undercard, super middleweight J’Leon Love (22-1, 12 KOs) stopped Michael Gbenga :02 into the sixth round. Gbenga (17-25, 16 KOs) quit on his stool. Middleweight Demond Nicholson (16-1, 16 KOs) beat Joshua Okine (22-5, 15 KOs) by unanimous eight-round decision. It’s the first time Nicholson had been taken the distance in his short pro career. In a scheduled six-round lightweight fight, Patrick Harris (8-0, 5 KOs) stopped Derrick Bell (12-28-1, 7 KOs) at 1:03 of the second round.
Undefeated Shynggyskhan Tazhibay, of Karagandinskaya, Kazakhstan upped his record to 3-0 (2 KOs) with a four-round unanimous decision over Rairus Dudley (2-1-1, 2 KOs). Super featherweight Gerald Tucker (6-0-1, 3 KOs) took a four-round unanimous decision over Anthony Napunyi (10-15, 5 KOs).
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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