Adrien Broner was eager to get in the ring as he had been inactive since the loss to Manny Pacquiao two years ago. He wanted to show his fans – and his critics – that he was “still AB”.
His performance at the Mohegan Sun Arena against Jovanie Santiago was a mixture of some sharp punches and moments of good defense which led to a unanimous decision victory, giving him the first win since February 2017 over Adrian Granados. Peter Hary scored the bout 117-110, Tom Carusone scored it 116-111, and Glenn Feldman turned in a score of 115-110 for the former four-division champion. It counts as his 34th win in his pro career over previously unbeaten Santiago, who is now 14-1-1.
It was a slow start for Broner as his offensive output slowly increased as the rounds passed. He waited for openings to land on Santiago while the Puerto Rican came forward and attempted to get at Broner with constant pressure. Santiago did land punches when he backed Broner to the ropes, but nothing to change the pace of the fight as Broner landed with counter shots and left jabs. There were a few issues during clinches as some questionable punches were landed up close, and referee Arthur Mercante gave warnings to both fighters while the action was going on. It got to a high point at the end of the fourth round, as Broner landed a punch right after the bell but then Santiago threw a left hand a second later as Mercante stepped in. As a result, Mercante took a point away from Santiago before the start of the next round.
Broner waited patiently for Santiago to throw punches in the sixth round which led to Broner blocking those shots and responding with two punch combinations. Broner’s offense picked up near the end of the seventh round as he threw a flurry of punches before the bell sounded. A left hook in the eighth round nearly scored a knockdown as Santiago went back and his right glove was close to touching the canvas, yet it didn’t lead to a more aggressive Broner. Instead, he stayed within his lane to land the jab and catch Santiago with counters. Santiago gave a spirited effort towards the end, but it was not enough to get him the victory.
While it was a clear decision for Broner on the scorecards, he gave credit to Santiago for his effort in the fight. “I knew he was going to be tough because he’s 14-0,” Broner said. Anybody with that ‘0’ wants to keep that ‘0’ so they’re going to fight like a bum fighting for a sandwich. I came in and I got the job done.”
He didn’t provide a clear assessment of his performance immediately after the fight, but he believed that he was feeling good in the ring.
“I want to go home and really look at my fight. I haven’t fought in two years. But I felt good, I felt like I won the fight. I felt like I beat him with the jab, honestly. But it felt good to get my hand raised though.”
Santiago’s activity was not given much credit by the judges even though he landed and threw more than twice the amount of punches than Broner. Even with getting the short end of the decision he felt that his opponent got the better of him.
“The decision doesn’t surprise me,” Santiago said. “Broner did a nice job in there. He fought a great fight. We were in it to win this fight and he got the decision.”
This win gives Broner some direction as to who he may fight next. This bout was slated to be at 140 pounds, but issues in both camps prevented that from happening. Broner plans to continue his career at the 140 pound division, and sees himself later getting in position to be champion at the weight class again.
“There is a lot of work out there at 140. Right now we’re going to the drawing board with Al Haymon and see what’s best for me. But I’m definitely going back to the gym and I’m looking forward to getting one of those titles this year—at 140.”