By Cliff Rold
When it was first discussed, the idea sounded like a joke. It ended up being a fight, perhaps intended to build a grudge match transparently years in the making. Whether Adrien Broner can be a problem for Floyd Mayweather, or just the latest hoping Mayweather comes back to the ring, remains to be seen.
In front of a sold out crowd of 8,172, 26-year old former four-division beltholder Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KO), 140 ½, of Cincinnati, Ohio, scored a ninth round stoppage of 35-year old UK journeyman Ashley Theophane (39-7-1, 11 KO), 140, of Las Vegas, Nevada. Theophane acquitted himself well and gave his best but the difference in class was clear from early on in the ring and clearer when the fight was first suggested.
The referee was Luis Pabon.
There was early drama as Broner lost his title on the scales, just missing the division limit of 140 lbs. Any concerns that Broner left anything on the scale were scuttled once the bell rang.
Broner spent most of the first walking Theophane down, rattling him with stiff jabs and whipping rights and lefts. Theophane didn’t punch much but managed to land a few to the body and started the second jabbing to the chest and digging low. Theophane also caught Broner with some decent head shots in the round but the flashier Broner got the most reaction with a burst of blows near the ropes.
A Broner left hook had Theophane in trouble in the third with a left hook and continued to land the punch hard when he let it go. Theophane continued to weather storms and land occasionally but through three he couldn’t get Broner’s respect.
His left eye beginning to swell, Theophane kept pressing in the fourth. Broner took most of the round off, exploding in the final minute with a left uppercut that put Theophane on his bicycle. Broner stalked but let Theophane escape. Round five was more measured, both men working but no real hurting shots from either side.
It may not have hurt but in a close sixth, a big right hand and follow-up combination may have stolen the sixth for Theophane. Both men had a case in the seventh but Broner closed stronger. In the eighth, the lack of consistent offense from Broner drew a couple rounds of boos as Theophane just chipped away with body shots and absorbed the occasional pot shot his direction.
Perhaps having grown tired of letting Theophane hang around, Broner finally ended the affair in the ninth. Unleashing on Theophane, Broner let loose. Chasing Theophane around the ring and landing vicious shots, Pabon opted to end matters at 1:10 of round nine while Theophane appeared to be complaining of a low blow.
“I been going through a lot all week,” said Broner before following by giving himself a pat on the back. Turning to the future, Broner referenced a growing war of words between he and the retired Floyd Mayweather. “Me and Floyd, he gotta’ see me,” Broner declared. Floyd clapped and laughed at Broner as the crowd cheered the boxing equivalent of Hulk Hogan versus Brutus Beefcake.
25-year old lightweight Robert Easter (17-0, 14 KO), 133, of Toledo, Ohio, danced his way into the ring. He did more than dance once he got there, using a single right hand in round five to level former 130 lb. titlist Algenis Menzdez (23-4-1, 12 KO), 134 ¼, Dominican-born of Brooklyn, New York. Mendez entered having won two straight including a unanimous decision over tricky former lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez since losing the IBF 130 lb. title to Rances Barthelemy in 2014. It was the first stoppage loss of Mendez’s career. The referee was William Johnson.
The taller Easter started out trying to establish his jab while the veteran Mendez plied his trade more patiently. Mixing it up to the head and body, Mendez started to find the target a little as the round closed. Both men would have their moments in the second, both landing well to the body and firing rapid-fire stuff in close.
Punishing right hands favored Mendez in the third and started the fourth with more of the same. Easter replied early in the fourth with a thudding left hook and slowly took over the round. In the final thirty seconds, Easter landed a right near the ropes and Mendez’s legs sagged. Sensing he had his man hurt, Easter attacked and had Mendez reeling. Mendez kept his feet and was punching back as the bell sounded.
It was Mendez’s turn on offense again in the fifth. Staying close and making Easter miss, Mendez got in some nice rights and lefts and looked to be on his way to a winning round. A single Easter right hand made folly of that look. With Mendez’s back to the ropes, Easter landed an echoing right that sent a ragged Mendez sinking towards the canvas. Mendez, his eyes a blank stare, forced himself up but couldn’t regain his balance as Johnson reached the count of eight. Out on his feet, Johnson mercifully saved Mendez at 2:43 of the fifth.
Easter was happy with his performance and knew he’d had to work for it. “It felt great. Coming in this fight, I knew I had to keep my range but he’s a slick guy.” Easter deferred to his team when talk turned to the future but this win certainly brings him closer to contention.