By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, as seen on HBO’s airwaves inside of the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, former junior lightweight champion Adrien Broner disposed of outmatched challenger Vicente Escobedo inside of five rounds.
There was some heavy drama that took place in the hours leading up to the fight, however, starting with Friday’s weigh-in. Broner would end up hitting the scales at 133.5 pounds, three and a half over the junior lightweight limit, and subsequently saw his WBO crown taken away by default.
Team Escobedo were still in favor of allowing the fight to go on, just as long as Broner came in weighing 140 pounds or less at 9 A.M. on Saturday, the day of the fight. Broner again was overweight, however, reportedly at 143 pounds this time, and word began circulating that the bout was in jeopardy.
Broner’s side, which includes advisor Al Haymon, would come to Escobedo with various offers and eventually the fight was back on after the Woodland, Calif.-based fighter was rumored to have received nearly double his original purse of $150,000.
And while Escobedo will be able to rest his head knowing that he is certainly more financially secure, inside of the ring it was all Broner, as the 22-year old dominated the action in front of his hometown crowd.
Speaking with Larry Merchant after the bout, the longtime HBO analyst admitted that the former champ looked solid.
“He fought well,” stated Merchant during our brief conversation. “I don’t know much about Escobedo, so I don’t know what it means, but he fought the kind of fight we’re used to seeing him fight against, shall I say, a certain level of opposition.”
As far as Broner’s weight issues and the confusion that followed, Merchant obviously felt it was a bad look for a fighter looking to establish himself in the public’s eye.
“I thought it was unprofessional,” Merchant continued. “I thought it was costing him a lot of money to be unprofessional. Let’s just say it cost him a lot of money.”
Following the bout, with his victory upping his record to 24-0 with 20 knockouts, Broner instantly eyed the best competition available at 135 pounds, calling out the likes of Antonio DeMarco, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Brandon Rios. But instead of being overly-excited about any of those matches, Merchant seems to think the truth in Broner will come out when he rises up in weight ever further.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that the lightweight division is something he will outgrow in another year or so,” Merchant said. “Ultimately, he’ll fight in the welterweight divisions and then we’ll find out how good he is.”
Because of his braggadocios approach, Broner finds natural comparisons to five-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., who also won his first belt at 130 pounds while having success in the welterweight classes, as Merchant alluded to.
In Broner’s case, to be so young yet still getting references to the world’s best fighter can only be something positive, feels Merchant.
“I think it’s a reasonable comparison,” Merchant claimed. “I don’t think he’s as well-schooled a fighter as Mayweather was when he was very young. But he’s very strong at this weight and I think that it’s a good thing for him to be compared to a young Mayweather. If he has people in the fight world talking about him, at twenty-two, in that way, he’s achieved something.”
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