Tonight at 9 pm ET on Showtime, Adrien Broner returns in the main event against Jovanie Santiago, with Broner fighting for the first time in over two years.
Broner (33-4-1, 1 no contest) returns to the ring after a 25-month layoff, and of course the biggest question will be whether “The Problem” has any rust. A series of legal issues derailed his career, but he is hungry to get back on top. Broner is still just 31 years old, and the four-time, multi-division champion and he is heavily favored against what most feel to be a tune-up fight against a tomato can. It might take a couple of rounds for Broner to get his sea legs after a lengthy hiatus, but you can expect him to take over by about the fifth round and end this thing before it gets to the seventh.
Wil Esco will be on the round-by-round call for all three fights.
Broner, 31, is the favorite here, but we’ll have to see what the former four-division titleholder will have in the ring once the bell sounds. The 31-year-old Santiago is basically a complete unknown, with nothing particularly notable on his record. This is a sink-or-swim for him.
Through disappointing performances in the ring and a string of legal snafus outside of the ring, along with mental and alcohol issues, Broner has maintained his ability to be a viable ratings draw for Showtime. At some point, though, he needs a victory against a legit opponent.
Who is Jovanie Santiago?
Jovanie Santiago enters this bout as a late notice replacement and is a largely unheralded underdog. There are certainly some Rocky movie connotations here with the backdrop of Santiago being a gardener and tow truck driver between fights.
The classic story of the hardworking, everyman boxer finally getting the huge fight under the spotlight.
This could be a life-changing moment for Santiago and he seems to be galvanizing his resolve with the pressure rather than wilting to the heat of the moment.
Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs) was arrested for DUI in Florida back in March, which led to him having to serve seven days in jail in August due to a probation violation for a 2018 arrest for “gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony, misdemeanor sexual imposition and abduction, a third-degree felony.”
“AB” also admitted that he had an alcohol problem and promised to stop drinking after ballooning to around 180 pounds. Doing that and putting his sole focus on boxing allowed Broner to drop the weight in anticipation of having to make the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds.
Santiago, 31, certainly isn’t a youngin’ in the sport and if he’s going to make a move to the world stage, now is definitely the time. This bout against Broner will be his first outside of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and obviously the talent pool he’s facing here is above what he’s been accustomed to. But that was likely the entire point of Broner’s team selecting him as an opponent.