By Jack Tiernan: Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner is in training camp in Colorado getting ready for a ring return. Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza says they’re looking for an opponent and a date for the former four-division world champion Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs) to face.
It’s understandable why Espinoza and Showtime aren’t ready to give up on the still young and talented Broner. If they can rebuild him, he’s got the potential to be a goldmine for the network.
Ideally, Broner needs to return to the super featherweight division where he dominated years ago. That was easily his best weight class and one where his power carried the farthest.
Since moving up to 140 and 147, Broner’s career has deteriorated, as it would for any fighter that was competing out of his natural weight class.
The 32-year-old Broner hasn’t fought since February 2021 when he defeated Jovanie Santiago by a 12-round unanimous decision in an uneven performance from the talented fighter.
Broner had been out of the ring for two years when he took the fight, and he looked surprisingly good for a fighter coming off a 25-month layoff.
It’s important that expectations aren’t too high for Broner’s next fight because he’s already been out of the ring for 14 months.
What Broner needs is to be matched against a fringe level contender from the 140 or 135-lb divisions we’re talking about a fighter with just one fight under his belt in the last three years.
‘The Problem’ Broner in camp
“Adrien’s in camp. He’s gone away, he’s in Colorado for camp, demonstrating how serious he is,” said Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza to ESNEWS about Adrien Broner.
“We’re working on opponents and dates for him. He’s clearly committed to it. I think he’s still got gas in the tank.
“I think there are interesting matchups. Whether you love him or hate him, you know, he’s still a draw,” said Espinoza about Broner.
If Broner can return to the super featherweight division in June or July, these would be good options for him:
- Robson Conceicao
- Brock Jarvis
- Hector Luis Garcia
- Chris Colbert
- Roger Gutierrez
Errol Spence vs. Yordenis Ugas on Showtime
“I’d like to think of that in terms of the TV fights, it’s a six-fight card, really,” Espinoza about this Saturday’s unification fight between IBF/WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBA champion Yordenis Ugas on Showtime PPV.
“You get Radzhab Butaev vs. Eimantas Stanionis, [Brandon Lee vs.] Zachary Ochoa on Showtime before the pay-per-view. So all in all for your pay-per-view money, you’re getting six fights.
With some interesting stuff on the undercard, you’re getting the return of Isaac Cruz, who a lot of people just discovered when he fought Tank. I think it’s going to be a really exciting night. There are six TV-quality fights on that card,” said Espinoza.
Tank Davis vs. Rolly Romero = War
“Sometimes you can strip all the storylines away and the belts and the rankings, and as Tank says, ‘It’s about respect,’” said Espinoza about the May 28th fight between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero. “It’s a fight that we know what both guys are going to do.
“They’re going to try and knock each other out with virtually every punch. It’s not going to be any surprises and no deception here. They’re both going to say let’s go to the center of the ring and see who can take the other’s best shot.
“I think that’s very exciting. When you get one of those and it’s very personal. This is not about money, legacy, or titles. This is about a personal rivalry that’s developed. I think that adds a lot of excitement to the fight,” Espinoza said.
Kambosos vs. Haney: Is George for real?
“Anytime you have an upset like we saw with Kambosos – Teofimo, you have to wonder whether that was more about [George] Kambosos or more about Teofimo?” said Espinoza.
“The only way we’ll see is to see Kambosos against another high-level opponent. We’ll see it. Obviously, Haney is definitely skilled, and it’ll be interesting. It should be a good style match-up.
“With the pressure of Kambosos and the movement of Haney, it could be there. But for me, the jury is still out on Kambosos. I’m not going to discount what he did [against Teofimo Lopez last November]. He was by far the better man that night.
“We’ve since learned that Teofimo had some pretty serious health problems. So the question is, how much of that was Teofimo and how much of that was Kambosos?
“I think that’s why people are interested in these high-level match-ups with Kambosos is to see how good he is really,” said Espinoza.
Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte undercard
“That’s a good question. There’s certainly talent there. The promoters have access to talent,” said Espinoza when asked why the Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte undercard is arguably a weak one for their April 23rd fight.
“I don’t know their business, I can only speculate that there’s so much money tied up in the main event that they didn’t want to make the investment and go further on and risk on a limb with a risk.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity. That’s one thing that has been a priority for us last year and especially this year. That’s why we’re seeing three fights down, we have world title fights.
“We got eliminators in the co-features, and we’re really trying to avoid those announcements where the fight comes out and you got a star on one side a guy that you literally have to Google on the other.
“That’s not what we’re doing. We’re looking at evenly matched fights, former world title challengers, up and coming contenders in evenly matched fights. We’ve seen it. We saw it with Chris Colbert in a big upset earlier in the year [against Hector Luis Garcia on February 26th].
There have been others as well. I think you can call Mark Magsayo an upset [against Gary Russell Jr] as well. That’s what happens when people take tough fights. You can’t always predict how it’s going to end.
“That’s something we’re proud of. We look at that card and at other cards, I’m constantly shocked at the lack of care that’s taken to undercards.
“Literally for guys like you and me to have to Google somebody like, ‘Who is that?’ That’s saying a lot. You’re putting that on as your co-feature, that’s a problem.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez
“It’s a good question. I think [Oscar Valdez is not as quick and as athletic as Shakur, but we’ve seen it before. Sometimes the pressure and being fundamentally sound, I think it’s a tough fight,” said Espinoza on the April 30th super featherweight unification clash between WBC champion Oscar Valdez and WBO champ Shakur Stevenson.
“Whoever can impose their power and their will on this, I give Valdez a decent chance,” said Espinoza.
Espinoza talks Canelo
“It was very close and it was the more lucrative offer of the two,” said Espinoza when asked how close was Canelo Alvarez to PBC’s two-fight deal for him to face Jermall Charlo and David Benavidez this year.
“Even when it turned into a two-fight offer, PBC’s offer was more lucrative than the other one [from DAZN and Matchroom Boxing]. Canelo is an experienced guy, and he knows what he wants in his career.
“If the challenge was there for him for the taking, that’s what was attractive to him. Personally, obviously, I’m not objective.
“I think in terms of perception and the fan’s reaction, I think there’s more excitement behind Charlo and Benavidez. But I’m not going to say it’s not an exciting fight,” said Espinoza about Canelo taking on WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol on May 7th on DAZN PPV.
“175 is a tough division and Bivol is a legitimate 175-pounder. There are definitely challenges there. I hope after the Bivol fight, we can pick up those conversations [with Canelo] and get it done,” said Espinoza.