by Cliff Rold
It’s the sort of fight where the judges can come up with a pair of opposing seven rounds to three scorecards and one can sort of get it.
There are nights like that; fights like that.
To these eyes, Adrian Granados had too much work rate to go with the punches he was landing to give many rounds to the selective, if fairly effective when throwing, Adrien Broner. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t see what both guys were doing in there. Even as Broner initiated tons of clinches, the fight never got dull. It remained intense and engaging straight through a raucous final round that saw a little bit of the best of both men.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Broner A-; Granados B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Broner B+; Granados B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Broner B-; Granados C/Post: B-; B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Broner B; Granados B/Post: B+; B+
Some guys just don’t have the luck. Glen Johnson, during the 2000s, stands out as one of those guys. The breaks, the politics, the location, just seemed to work against him more often than not. He was the guy who was brought in to lose and if he didn’t, well, then he’d better have won by a country mile.
Fighters like that can slowly build a following and turn their fortunes around if they keep showing up and performing. If anyone reading thinks Broner won on Saturday night, there’s not going to be a big argument here. It was a close, competitive fight between men who proved each other’s equal.
It just says here that Granados shouldn’t be discouraged. Johnson learned on the job, took some real losses, worked through some incredibly iffy decisions, and finally punched through to become the light heavyweight champion of the world. Granados may not have a light at the end of the tunnel like that but Saturday was more than ample reason to keep him on the air. He makes compelling fights and has more boxing ability, and savvy, than he gets credit for.
There were spots in the fight where Granados outboxed Broner, setting him up for the right hand and meeting him in body shot exchanges. He changed pace and approach all night, moving in spots and then attacking. If his ring IQ can be underrated, Broner’s fighting spirit can also be a value obscured.
Broner is the sort of guy it’s easy not to like. His behavior ventures into boorishness. His ability rarely meets the hype that surrounded him early. He’s a triumph of personality, matchmaking, and timing. In boxing history, it’s a horse race between he and Leo Gamez as boxing’s least of four division titlists so far.
But not being as good as the hype, and not being entertaining, are two different things. Broner has been in some good scraps, win or lose. He doesn’t shrink from a battle. He never gave up against Marcos Maidana, found a near miracle against Shawn Porter, and dug in for some bombs against Granados on Saturday night. That his charisma and personality outstrip his talent isn’t a sin.
Broner was still able to show off some canny accuracy and hand speed Saturday. His feet are often too flat and his defense remains a liability. He gets hit a lot, flush, in too many fights and at welterweight he’s undersized. It doesn’t portend for a long, bright future in the class but he adds some star power. Seriously, if Broner parlays this win into an eventual fight with the winner of Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia, would anyone not tune in?
It was a good fight Saturday night. That it left a debate about the winner is not a problem. If we were never supposed to have split decisions, there wouldn’t be three judges.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 2-3
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]