Adrien Broner’s intended comeback showcase could instead turn into a major crossroads bout.
Rising lightweight prospect Michel ‘La Zarza’ Rivera has emerged as a leading candidate to next face the former four-division titlist, multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com. The two sides are in advanced talks for the fight which would headline a Showtime card on Feb. 13, according to two separate sources.
Broner was originally due to face Mexico’s Pedro Campa, who was forced to withdraw from the yet-to-be-announced event due to contract tracing as a team member has tested positive for COVID-19. Rivera has now emerged atop a short list of foes to fill the void for the slotted junior welterweight fight.
Boxing insider Julius Julianis was the first to reveal the development as a done deal, though sources tell BoxingScene.com the fight is not quite at the finish line.
The fight would require a move up in weight for Rivera (19-0, 12KOs), a promising Dominican lightweight who trains out of Miami and who fights almost exclusively in the 135-pound division.
Rivera impressed in his first true step up in class, soundly outpointing Ladarius ‘Memphis’ Miller on the undercard of Gervonta Davis’ star-solidifying 6th round knockout of Leo Santa Cruz last Halloween in San Antonio, Texas. Rivera—who turns just 23 in March—weighed 134 ¾ pounds for the fight and has never weighed heavier than 137 pounds.
Prior to emerging as a candidate to face Broner, Rivera was being groomed for a March 6 ring return, on the undercard of a show to be headlined by unbeaten former two-time super middleweight titlist David Benavidez.
Broner (33-4-1, 24KOs) is due to end a 25-month ring break with his forthcoming ring return. The 31-year old Cincinnati native has not fought since a 12-round loss to the legendary Manny Pacquiao in their secondary welterweight title fight.
The bout was Broner’s fifth as a welterweight, having bounced back and forth between that weight and 140 pounds, at which his Feb. 13 bout will take place. Broner’s last appearance as a junior welterweight resulted in a 12-round loss to then-unbeaten Mikey Garcia in July 2017.
Broner has claimed titles at junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. His last title reign came in the 140-pound division, scoring a 12th round stoppage of Khabib Allakhverdiev atop an Oct. 2015 Showtime card in his Cincinnati hometown. The reign ended just six months later and at the scale, as Broner missed weight ahead of an eventual 9th round stoppage of Ashley Theophane in April 2016.
Just one win has followed since then, outlasting Adrian Granados atop a Feb. 2017 Showtime event in Cincinnati. Broner is 0-2-1 in his last three starts. Claims of being done with boxing forever over the past year or so have since transitioned to a comeback tour. Like Rivera, Broner is also training in South Florida in preparation for his ring return.
A tripleheader is in store for the Feb. 13 Showtime event. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com contributor Dan Rafael, the event will also include the return of former lightweight titlist Robert Easter Jr., a longtime Broner stablemate whom he has joined in training camp in South Florida. Easter is still in search of an opponent for his bout, which shares an undercard with a heavyweight clash between Otto Wallin and former two-time title challenger Dominic Breazeale.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox