UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Jovanie Santiago suspects Adrien Broner will be more aggressive against him than usual because Broner considers him a “weak” opponent.
Broner contends he realizes that the unbeaten, unproven Puerto Rican fighter is dangerous. Santiago just doesn’t believe him.
“Adrien Broner thinks this is an easy fight for him,” Santiago told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Thursday at Mohegan Sun. “He’s wrong about that.”
Broner approved Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) as a replacement for Mexico’s Pedro Campa late in January, after Campa (31-1-1, 21 KOs) tested positive for COVID-19. Santiago scored a first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Peruvian Juan Zegarra (16-1, 10 KOs, 1 NC) on December 19 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but he hasn’t encountered anyone on Broner’s level since he made his pro debut in August 2007.
Handicappers have installed Broner as a 9-1 favorite in advance of their 12-round welterweight fight Saturday night. An unfazed Santiago is confident he can upset the four-division champion in their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“Whatever Broner brings to the table, I’m ready for it,” Santiago said. “If he moves, I’m gonna move with him. And if he wants to brawl, I’m gonna brawl. Whatever he does, I’m gonna do better than him.”
The 31-year-old Santiago didn’t hesitate to take this challenging bout because he understands beating Broner would completely change his life.
“It would be awesome,” Santiago said. “It would be the best thing that happened to my career, beating Broner. My name will skyrocket. It will catapult me to a world title fight if I beat Broner.”
Cincinnati’s Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) hasn’t fought in two years, not since Manny Pacquiao beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round WBA welterweight title fight in January 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. He and Santiago were supposed to meet at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, but their camps agreed this week to change the contract weight to the welterweight maximum of 147 pounds, mostly to accommodate Broner.
Santiago hasn’t competed at the welterweight limit since September 2015, yet he is certain he can compete at this level in an event obviously scheduled to get Broner back on the winning track.
“He’s a great champion,” Santiago said, “but I’ve trained really hard in the gym and I’m gonna show it on Saturday.”
Immediately before Broner boxes Santiago, Showtime will air a 12-round heavyweight battle between Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), of Eastvale, California, and Otto Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC), of Sundsvall, Sweden. Junior welterweights Robert Easter Jr. (22-1-1, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, and Ryan Martin (24-1, 14 KOs), of Chattanooga, Tennessee, are scheduled to square off in the 12-round opener of Showtime’s telecast (9 p.m. EST; 6 p.m. PST).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.