Adrien Broner and Emanuel Taylor put on a show for “The Problem’s” 8,115 hometown fans in attendance at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, brawling to a close, unanimous decision (115-12, 116-111 twice) for Broner that was arguably one of the best fights of the year.
The main event of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader was a tactical, inside fight from the beginning. Taylor (18-3, 12 KOs) was effective in the early rounds, coming out with an aggressive game plan that surprised the favored Broner and had him backing up against the ropes. The fight was even after six rounds, but as Taylor’s energy waned, Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) took control of the bout.
With the crowd on its feet in a classic 12th round, Broner closed out the bout with an exclamation point. The three-division world champion set up Taylor with a tremendous flurry then floored him with a perfect left hook for the first knockdown of the night with just 20 seconds left in the fight.
“You have fake champs who don’t want to see them in a tough fight, but I’m still pretty,” Broner said. “I want to thank Emanuel Taylor for coming to Cincy to fight me. He put up a hell of a fight. I knew he was going to be tough.”
In just his second fight at 140 pounds after capturing titles at 130, 135 and 147, Broner was looking to prove that he’s still an elite fighter after a tough loss to Marcos Maidana in December 2013.
“I came from the bottom so I know what it feels like to be there. We’re still pushing to get back to the top.
“I said my next fight should be Matthysse and he can get it. If it was up to me I’d fight him with this cut on my head tonight.”
A massive underdog going in, Taylor put on an impressive performance that earned the respect of his outspoken and colorful opponent.
“I came to his hometown and I gave him a good fight,” Taylor said. “In the 12th I just got caught. I was trying to do what I had to do to keep it close and I got caught.
“Everyone underestimated me. Everyone thought I would get stopped in the early rounds, but I put up a good fight. Tonight just wasn’t my night and he walked away with the home victory.”
Argentinean power-puncher Lucas Matthysse scored a quick knockout of previously undefeated Roberto Ortiz with a lethal liver shot at 2:45 of the second round.
In an anticlimactic ending to a bout that had the promise of a war, Matthysse (36-3, 34 KOs) landed a short left hook to the body that sent Ortiz to a knee to catch his breath. The Mexican spit out his mouthpiece and appeared to be working the count until the final split seconds. But referee Benji Esteves halted the contest at the count of 10 despite the fact that Ortiz was on his feet and proceeding to stand up straight.
“I did get him really good on the body,” Matthysse said through a translator. “But if he was ready to get up I was ready to fight. It was not what I expected, but this is what I have now. And now I challenge Danny Garcia to stop being a chicken, to stop fighting little boxers and come and fight me.
“If Garcia doesn’t come then I’ll have Adrien Broner. I’ll have anybody.”
Ortiz (31-1-1, 24 KOs) was clearly disappointed and disagreed with the ref’s count.
“I thought I was up at nine,” Ortiz said through a translator. “He definitely hit me with a good shot, but I was up at nine. I could have got up at seven. I was just, as you said, milking it. I was in good position to continue this fight and I want a rematch.”
SHOWTIME ringside reporter Jim Gray asked Esteves his thoughts on the stoppage. Esteves, who did not want to make a comment on camera, told Gray that he thought Ortiz was OK to continue but that he did not beat the count.
It was an early birthday present for Andre Berto in the opening bout on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, with the former welterweight world champion bouncing back from a lengthy layoff and shoulder surgery with a 10-round unanimous decision victory over Steve Upsher. The bout was scored 99-91 by all three judges.
Berto, who turns 31 on Sunday, showed no lingering signs of discomfort following after nearly 14 months out of the ring after suffering a shoulder injury in July, 2013 against Jesus Soto Karass.
Working for just the second fight with defensive specialist Virgil Hunter, Berto (29-3, 22 KOs) came out from the opening bell with his familiar aggressive attack. Upsher (24-4-1, 6 KOs), who was moving up from 140 pounds, had his moments, but Berto’s power and accuracy were the difference as the former champ landed 61 percent of his power shots.
“I’ve been off for a while but everything fell into place pretty well,” Berto said. “I definitely wanted to get the rounds in. After the first round I felt like I could hit him whenever I wanted to. Virgil has been making sure my jab was on point and my boxing skills were on point. I’ve always had power and speed, but he’s been making me stick to the boxing skills a bit more.
“The welterweight division is wide open and there are a lot of options out there. I’d definitely like to fight some of the guys that I took Ls (losses) from. I appreciate those ass-whoopings I got but now it’s my time to get mine.”
On SHOWTIME EXTREME, Michael Perez (22-2, 10 KOs) won a convincing unanimous decision victory over previously once-beaten Jared Robinson (15-2, 7 KOs), scored 98-91, 97-92 twice.
In the opening bout on SHOWTIME EXTREME, undefeated bantamweight prospect Rau’Shee Warren (12-0, 3 KOs) scored a dominating unanimous decision victory (100-89 three times) over veteran Jose Luis Araiza (34-9-1, 25 KOs).