Adrien Broner ended his two-year layoff from boxing with a unanimous decision win over Jovanie Santiago. Broner is back, but his performance was mediocre.
Broner made his boxing return on Saturday, Feb. 20. He got the win against Jovanie Santiago, but he didn’t do enough to prove that he can be a factor in the title picture.
Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs) is a four-division champion, but he hasn’t worn a title belt since 2015. Before his return against Santiago, Broner had been out of the ring for more than two years. He lost a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao in 2019 in his previous performance.
Broner is known for his flamboyance, shocking statements and at times erratic behavior. He’s been getting more attention out of the ring in the form of ttroubles with the law, but Broner claimed before the fight that he was changing his ways and rededicating his life to boxing.
“One day, I just woke and said, ‘I’m done,’” said Broner in the final press conference before the fight. “In order to change, you’ve got to make change, or you’ll steady get caught up doing the same thing. I cut a lot of stuff, I stopped doing a lot of stuff, and I got myself together.”
Broner did lose a lot of weight to return to fighting form, but his bout with Santiago was switched from a junior welterweight bout to a welterweight contest two days before fight night. After his fight with Santiago, Broner told the media that he could have made the junior welterweight limit, but the facilities and restrictions at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., didn’t allow him access to things he needed to make weight.
As expected, Broner showed considerable ring rust early in the fight with Santiago, but he did get better as the fight went on. Santiago outworked Broner for most of the night but looked best in the first half of the fight.
Adrien Broner looked flat against Jovanie Santiago but wants to stay active in 2021
Broner came alive around rounds 7 and 8, but he fought in spurts and had difficulty finding his rhythm. These are the same problems that plagued Broner in his losses to Mikey Garcia and Pacquiao.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) February 21, 2021
Broner’s low punch count is his biggest weakness, and he couldn’t let his hands go against a previously undefeated yet unheralded Santiago. According to CompuBox stats, Broner landed 98 of his 338 total punches. That’s an anemic number for a 12-round fight.
Santiago more than doubled both of those statistics from Broner. He landed 207 of his 697 punches. Santiago (14-1-1, 10 KOs) also connected at a slightly higher percentage than Broner. Going strictly by the numbers, it would be hard to imagine Santiago losing the fight, but he did so by unanimous decision.
Judges score rounds, not punch statistics, but those numbers make a convincing case for why Santiago should have at least earned a draw. He outworked Broner, who was a dormant target for much of the fight.
Still, Broner’s hand was raised at the end of the night. It was far from a convincing win, but Broner felt good about his win and thinks he can still be a player at boxing’s highest level. His performance said otherwise.
FanSided talked to Broner after the fight, and he explained how boxing keeps him out of trouble, and he wants to fight two more times in 2021, maybe three.
“The only way I stay out of trouble is if I’m training,” said Broner. “I don’t know why God got my life set up like this. I just try to make the best of it. Right now, I’m in a mind state to stay focused on boxing, and as long as I can do that, I’ll stay out of trouble. They just need to keep me fighting. I don’t give a f**k if I fight next week. I just want to fight.”
Hopefully, Broner can keep a positive mindset and stay healthy physically and mentally to continue his attempt at a boxing comeback.