By Matt Uplinger
After watching HBO Boxing After Dark tonight, I think it is more evident than ever that boxing is in serious trouble. Tonight’s HBO telecast was one of the worst I’ve seen in recent years. We were “treated” to see new light-middleweight prospect Keith Thurman destroy Orlando Lora (who only won three of his last four fights prior to tonight). In all fairness, Thurman was supposed to fight Marcos Maidana but a suitable replacement could not be found on short notice.
The biggest travesty of the night goes to Adrien Broner, who showed up to the weigh in for his fight with Vincente Escobedo three pounds over the 130lb limit and made no effort to cut the extra weight. Broner weighed in again Saturday at 143 1/2, which was apparently over the new agreed upon weight by Escobedo’s camp.
The fight remained in limbo for several more hours until an agreement was reached late that afternoon. Broner was stripped of the WBO title and forfeited his purse, while Escobedo agreed to fight for an undisclosed amount. Broner entered the ring with Waka Flaka Flame and his usual entourage. The fight was what you would expect to see from an undefeated prospect with a hefty weight advantage against an overmatched journeyman.
Broner controlled the fight, plodding along and picking his shots. Escobedo fought a spirited fight but never really seemed to have a chance. Broner unleashed a flurry of punches in the fifth round that forced Escobedo’s corner to wave the white towel, stopping the fight.
Adrien Broner’s entourage quickly entered the ring and the post-fight antics ensued. In his post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Broner was unapologetic about being unable to make the 130lb limit and shrugged off questions about his recent tweets concerning his junk food diet. Broner also interrupted the interview to take a knee in front of his assumed-to-be girlfriend, as if he was going to propose to her. He then asked her to brush his hair instead (a duty normally belonging to his father).
The most interesting moment was when Broner got on one knee, appearing serious as he addressed his girlfriend, yet his father continued to brush his hair through his mock marriage proposal before being told to stop. I can only wonder if his father was truly aware that this was going to be a prank or for some reason felt he would contribute to the special moment by brushing his son’s hair during a supposed actual marriage proposal.
Kellerman then interviewed a bloodied Vincente Escobedo who became very emotional late in the interview and nearly broke down. I can only assume he was disappointed in himself for taking the fight at such a disadvantage, although he fought courageously. He mentioned he has a six-month baby girl at home and took the fight out of financial responsibility to his family. HBO seemed to have no interest in Escobedo’s troubles and instead focused on praising Broner for his “excellent performance.”
Final Thought: The real losers tonight (as usual) were the boxing fans. Gone are the days when HBO consistently had entertaining fights that actually meant something. Instead we are force fed a steady diet of over-matched fights that have little or no relevance with a second-helping of promo shows like “2 Days”, “24/7”, “Ringlife”, etc.; which typically hype fighters and fights that hardcore boxing fans don’t care to see.
Adrien Broner has been pushed and hyped as the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. because he emulates Floyd in the ring and attempts to be brash and cocky like him as well. Tonight was Adrien Broner’s 24th win of his career. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was near the same age when he had his 24th win against Emanuel Augustus. Mayweather had already defended the WBC Super Featherweight title a total of six times AND added Genaro Hernandez’s name to his resume (soon to be followed up with Diego Corrales).
These are accomplishments that Adrien Broner has yet to come near and therefore, he has not earned the right to compare himself to Mayweather or bite his style. Broner’s out of ring persona comes off as cheap, like a bad actor attempting to play a suave-like cocky character. HBO seems to relish in these traits of Broner, lauding it as charm or charisma. It seems as if they are trying to catch lightening in a bottle twice since Floyd Mayweather Jr. is nearing the end of his great career; which is all the more reason to appreciate Floyd Mayweather Jr. while he is still fighting because there is no young replacement in sight that can fill his shoes.