By Jake Donovan
Good news comes in bunches for unbeaten 130 lb. contender Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner.
The former amateur standout is blessed with the rare opportunity of being able to spend the holiday season with family, while training for his first title fight in his hometown of Cincinnati when he takes on Vicente Martin Rodriguez of Argentina this Saturday. The bout airs live on HBO as part of a split-site doubleheader, paired with a 154 lb. title fight between Saul Alvarez and Kermit Cintron.
Broner (21-0, 17KO) has done his best to remain focused on the opportunity in front of him, even in the presence of others inquiring about what could’ve been and what potentially lies ahead.
“We have an opponent for November 26,” Broner says when asked about potential opponents Ricky Burns and Eloy Perez passing on the chance to travel to his hometown for the fight.
The date was originally reserved for Broner to challenge for Burns’ 130 lb. belt, only for the Scot to vacate the belt after revealing that he was no longer able to remain in the weight class. He has since moved up to lightweight, outpointing former title challenger Michael Katsidis earlier this month to capture his second title in as many weight divisions.
Rather than challenge for another man’s title, Broner now serves as the evening’s true headliner in vying for a vacant crown against the visiting Rodriguez (34-2-1, 19KO).
“I would’ve liked for Ricky Burns to step up for the fight, but he did what he felt was best for his career,” Broner reveals in support of the career path Burns instead chose. “It’s not about making fights for the sake of fighting; it’s about fighting for yourself. I’m proud of him; he did what he had to do and got the decision against Katsidis. We’ll meet up one day.”
First, he has to get past Rodriguez, who he admittedly doesn’t know much about but anticipates a stiff challenge from the Argentine contender.
“His record speaks for itself. He didn’t get it just fighting anybody. He has experience, but I’ll be ready. Rodriguez is aggressive and coming to fight. I am to and it’s going to be an action fight.”
An action fight would be just what the doctor ordered for Broner, who has yet to truly identify his style of fighting. An uneven showing in a disputed points win over Daniel Ponce de Leon in their 10-round bout marked his debut on HBO earlier this year, which was followed up with a 1st round knockout of Jason Litzau three months later.
Despite coming out victorious in both bouts, Broner was still met with criticism. The 22-year old has learned that it comes with the territory and simply chooses to keep his head down and focus on the task at hand.
“They’ll never give me the credit when it’s due,” Broner says of the detractors who insist the jury is still out on his career. “There will always be critics. 95% of the time, the people saying the criticism have never stepped in the ring. Even if I knock (Rodriguez) out in the first round, people will still have something bad to say. I just put it behind me. I’m Ray Charles to the criticism.”
As far as fight preparation goes, Broner is also ‘Ray Charles’ to what his opponent brings to the table. However, he attributes that to a desire to just get in there and fight as it comes.
“When you get in ring, you don't fight same fight. You fight everyone different. Watching tape is pointless. If you ask me, I’d rather pop in a tape of Floyd and see what moves I can steal, than watch tape of my opponents. It’s pointless to me.”
Far more meaningful is what is to be gained with a win this weekend. In the season of giving thanks, Broner is most grateful that the opportunity comes where he can be surrounded by loved ones.
“It is definitely a big step,” Broner says of his handlers – Golden Boy Promotions and advisor Al Haymon – securing a hometown fight for his first shot at a major title. “A lot of people have to go another guy’s territory. The fight is on my turf. It makes me more comfortable.”
As a reward, he asks that fans don’t get too comfortable in their seat – or at the very least be fully prepared once the opening bell rings.
“When you see me fight on November 26, have your snacks ready because it can end at any time. This fight is just the beginning. It will be a new era.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]