FORMER FOUR-DIVISION WORLD CHAMPION ADRIEN BRONER MAKES TRIUMPHANT RETURN
Former four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner returned from his two-year hiatus from boxing with a unanimous decision victory over Jovanie Santiago in the main event of Saturday night’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast, live on SHOWTIME from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The popular, must-see attraction Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs), who last fought against the legend Manny Pacquiao in January 2019, started slowly but used the second half of the fight to surge ahead on the judges’ scorecards. The fight was scored 116-111, 117-110 and 115-112 and all three judges had Broner winning rounds seven through ten.
“That was cool,” said Broner, who had his hand raised for the first time in four years. “I want to go home and really look at my fight. I haven’t fought in two years. But I felt good, I felt like I won the fight. I felt like I beat him with the jab, honestly. But it felt good to get my hand raised though.”
Cincinnati’s Broner landed just 35 of 138 punches in the opening six rounds of the fight while the previously undefeated Santiago (14-1-1, 10 KOs) landed 93 of 305 during the same stretch. At the end of the fourth round, Santiago was deducted a point for a punch that landed after the bell. Over the final six frames, Broner landed 63 of 300 punches while Santiago landed 114 of 392. Broner was most active in the ninth round when he connected on 14 of 38 punches. Though outworked over the entirety of the fight, Broner landed quality punches over the second half of the bout which earned him the victory.
“I knew he was going to be tough because he’s 14-0,” added Broner. “And anybody with that ‘0’ wants to keep that ‘0’ so they’re going to fight like a bum fighting for a sandwich. I came in and I got the job done. There is a lot of work out there at 140. Right now we’re going to the drawing board with Al Haymon to see what’s best for me. But I’m definitely going back to the gym and I’m looking forward to getting one of those titles this year at 140.”
SHOWTIME’s unofficial scorer Steve Farhood scored the fight 114-113 in favor of the Puerto Rican Santiago, much to the chagrin of Broner. Santiago, on the other hand, was not surprised by the judges’ scorecards.
“No, the decision doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “Broner did a nice job in there. The decision could have gone both ways. He fought a great fight. We were in it to win this fight and he got the decision. I think boxing fans know who I am now, but in this fight I should have applied more pressure and the fight would have gone my way.”
In the co-main event, Swedish heavyweight contender Otto Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs) continued his rise in the division with a unanimous decision over former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-3, 18 KOs). The judges scored the fight 117-111, 116-112 and 118-110.
The veteran Breazeale, whose only previous two losses came to unified champion Anthony Joshua and former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, showed signs of ring rust after a 21-month layoff. He started slowly and it was Wallin who was able to get his offense on track early and often. The southpaw Wallin landed a huge left hand that caused swelling over Breazeale’s right eye in the fifth round. He out-jabbed Breazeale 103 to 37 and landed more than twice the number of power shots than Breazeale did (129-54).
Wallin, who constantly stated his desire to move past the Tyson Fury fight that he nearly won in 2019 in the pre-fight leadup, earned the most impressive win of his career in his second appearance at the Mohegan Sun “Fight Sphere”.
“I think I had an advantage because I fought here before,” said the 30-year-old, who lives and trains in New York City under former world champion Joey Gamache. “I was more focused this time and I think I came out better than what I did last time. We knew coming in that I had better footwork, better speed so I wanted to use that. And I have good defense too. He hit me here and there but nothing too serious. I said before the fight that I just gotta do what I’m good at and that’s what I tried to do.
“My ultimate goal is to be champion. But I have to keep improving, I’m not there yet. I’ve got a lot of work to do, I’m getting better. I’m not so focused on who I fight, I just want to fight, keep it stepping it up and when I get another shot, I’ll be ready for it.”
“I let the early rounds get away from me,” said the 2012 U.S. Olympian Breazeale. “Otto is a good boxer and did a good job of sticking and moving the whole fight. I did a little bit too much head-hunting at the start and paid for it on the back-end.”
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME