The temperature had dipped to minus-7 degrees in snow-covered Cincinnati, but inside the Over The Rhine Recreation Center, things were heating up between Adrien Broner and his four sparring partners on February 18.
Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) has ramped up his training as prepares for his 140-pound clash against John Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs) on March 7 in the debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC.
Broner, a three-division world champion, is scheduled to depart on February 22 for Las Vegas, where he will fight Molina at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"John Molina is a tough guy. My nickname for him is that he's a punching bag that can win. He's a punching bag that can hit back. He's a punching bag that has power," said Broner, who will be seeking his third straight victory since losing his 147-pound title to Marcos Maidana in December 2013.
"If you're not on your 'P's and 'Q's, then it might only take one second and that fight can be changed, so I'm definitely taking this fight seriously. You've got some guys who can take a lot of punishment, but they can't give it. But [Molina] can take a lot of punishment and give it back. He's a deadly fighter."
Broner has been working hard to prepare himself for Molina. During the aforementioned sparring session, he faced 147-pounders William Jackson, Brad Solomon, Anthony Flores and Robert Frankel. Broner did so over the course of four nine-minute rounds—rather than the standard 12 rounds of three minutes each—with no break between each of them.
The 25-year-old Broner, nicknamed “The Problem,” worked on his movement against Jackson, a 25-year-old Cincinnati native with a record of 13-2-1.
There were some spirited exchanges between Broner and Jackson, who, at times, turned up the heat along the ropes. Eventually, though, Broner peppered Jackson with trash talk as he sent him retreating.
"He's always going to trash talk you, but I try to put a lot of pressure on him and make him work while he's going backwards,” Jackson said.
“We were together in the amateurs, and I've been sparring with him since probably his fifth fight, so, for me, this is everyday stuff. We've been doing this forever. It's just like a chess match where you're trying to figure out which move he's going to do next."
Next up to spar with Broner was Solomon, a 31-year-old Louisiana native with a record of 24-0, followed by Flores, a 24-year-old from Inglewood, California, who is 6-0.
The last man to engage Broner was Frankel, a 34-year-old Denver-based veteran with a record of 33-15-1. Among Frankel's losses was a fifth-round knockout by Molina in June 2011.
“I actually fought John Molina, so I'm a little bit of an insider as far as that goes. I just try to bring a little bit of that pressure because John Molina comes forward and throws a lot of overhand rights," Frankel said. "But you have to be careful when you're doing that, because Broner can counter you off of anything and he can hurt you.
“I just think that Adrien’s too fast. I think that he's going to really touch up John Molina a lot, and I think that Adrien has a chance to win this fight by KO.”