UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – One of the sport’s most flamboyant showmen isn’t concerned about boxing in an almost empty arena Saturday night.
Adrien Broner won’t be able to draw responses from fans during his ring walk or his 12-round fight against Jovanie Santiago because COVID-19 restrictions still prevent fans from attending boxing events at Mohegan Sun Arena. That’s fine by Broner, who is anxious just to get back in the ring after a two-year layoff.
“Man, you know me, man,” Broner said during a press conference Thursday at Mohegan Sun. “I don’t give a f--k where I’m at – you could put me in the bathroom, I’m gonna put on a show. So, you know, of course I always want fans there. But without the fans, that mean it’s gonna be more viewership. So, you know, I’m expecting the numbers to be good. And, you know, everybody can’t wait till I fight, so you know, Saturday night, you know, the numbers is gonna be good and I’m gonna put on a great performance.”
Broner-Santiago will headline Showtime’s tripleheader, but at least part of their fight figures to air at the same time as ESPN’s highly anticipated 130-pound title bout between Mexican rivals Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez.
The 31-year-old Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) is a 9-1 favorite versus Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs), an unbeaten but untested opponent who took this fight on a little more than one month’s notice. Broner will fight for the first time since he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to the Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao in January 2019 in Las Vegas.
Broner challenged Pacquiao for his WBA world welterweight title two years ago at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Cincinnati native was supposed to drop back down to the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds for this bout, but the weight limit was increased to 147 pounds this week to accommodate Broner.
Santiago, 31, will fight at the welterweight limit for the first time since September 2015.
Showtime’s three-bout broadcast is slated to start at 9 p.m. EST, when former IBF lightweight champ Robert Easter Jr. (22-1-1, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, will encounter Ryan Martin (24-1, 14 KOs), of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a 12-round junior welterweight fight. A 12-round heavyweight bout between Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), of Eastvale, California, and Otto Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC), of Sundsvall, Sweden, will immediately follow Easter-Martin.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.