The former four-division champion shakes off two years of rust with a unanimous decision victory Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
Adrien “The Problem” Broner got off to a slow start before turning it on to win a 12-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Jovanie Santiago Saturday night in the feature bout on PBC on SHOWTIME, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
It may not have been the auspicious return Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs) wanted coming off a 25-month layoff. But he’ll take it.
“Once the bell rung, the hell with the rhythm, it’s life or death,” Broner said. “He was waiting to counter me, so I had to work on my jab and open him up. When it came to the cards, I knew I won. Even with the performance with two years off, I felt good. I want to get back in the gym again.
“They’ll keep on bringing in these lions.”
Judges Tom Carusone (116-111), Glenn Feldman (115-112) and Peter Hary (117-110) all had it for Broner with comfortable scores.
Broner said that there was nothing Santiago (14-1-1, 10 KOs) did that surprised him. In the first half of the fight, Santiago did a solid job going to the body and forcing Broner against the ropes. Broner didn’t help himself throwing very few punches, although he landed a stiff jab throughout.
The second portion of the fight was dominated by Broner. Flashes of the champion version appeared with driving uppercuts to Santiago’s body. A left hook appeared to knock down Santiago, but referee Arthur Mercante Jr. did not rule it so.
“I want two more fights, three if I can the rest of the year,” Broner said. “The only way I stay out of trouble is if I’m training. As long as I stay focused on boxing, I stay out of trouble. My love for boxing never left. You have to remember, I fell in love with boxing before I fell in love with a girl.
“I was drinking and partying a lot. I put my focus on boxing, and I stopped. I did it. I’m going home to make love with my wife now.”
Otto Wallin makes a statement against Dominic Breazeale
Dominic Breazeale promised he was a changed man since he was last in the ring, which was almost two years ago, when he was stopped in the first round against then-WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Otto Wallin was looking to prove the battle he waged in losing a close decision to world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was what he was capable of doing.
Wallin and Breazeale faced each other in a crossroads fight for each of them. One’s career would sway forward, where a loss would send the other in a downward arc.
After 12 dominant rounds, Wallin is now on the rise, as he emerged as the winner in what is likely finest performance of his career.
“It was nice,” Wallin said. “I think I had an advantage because I fought here before. I was more focused this time and I think I came out better than what I did last time.”
“We knew coming in that I had better footwork, better speed so I wanted to use that. And I have good defense too. He hit me here and there but nothing too serious. I said before the fight that I just gotta do what I’m good and that’s what I tried to do.”
Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs) dominated the early action, establishing his southpaw jab and using his speed and movement to consistently leave Breazeale a step behind. When the gap closed, Wallin would counter Breazeale’s shots with power punches to the head and body.
“I am a good counterpuncher, I knew that. I’ve been having great sparring for this fight,” said Wallin. “I had been studying him a lot, I knew he that he was slower than me and doesn’t have the greatest defense always. I knew that I’d be landing my counters.”
By the fifth round, Breazeale’ s right eye was beginning to swell.
“I felt like after a while when I was feinting him, he kinda looked scared. He was kinda blinking and stuff. Or maybe the eye affected him, I don’t know. Or maybe his past experiences and being off for a little while.”
Breazeale (20-3, 18 KOs) mounted a mini-rally near the end of the eighth, landing two hard right uppercuts that snapped Wallin’s head back.
The former two-time world title challenger continued to build moment during the last quarter of the fight but it simply wasn’t enough to overcome Wallin’s large lead.
“I let the early rounds get away from me,” Breazeale said. “Otto is a good boxer and did a good job of sticking and moving the whole fight. I did a little bit too much head-hunting at the start and paid for it on the back-end.
“I don’t think the eye bothered me much and I’ve had it busted up before. Otto did a good job of throwing the overhand right and making the eye look the way it does. He just did a better job of paying dividends on the body. I maybe landed 10 body shots the entire fight, which is unheard of for me.”
Tony Paolillo scored it 117-111, Waleska Roldan had it 118-110 and Tom Schreck 116-112.
Robert Easter Jr. shows no rust after a long layoff
Easter got into an early rhythm and stayed there, winning a unanimous decision for his first victory since October 2019, when he defeated Adrian Granados.
The rangy, 5-foot-11 Easter (23-1-1, 14 KOs) did everything he was supposed to do against Martin, and that’s stay outside the pocket, box and keep Martin (24-2, 14 KOs) at a safe distance using his piston-like jab.
This was the type of fight where if you saw one round, you saw them all. Easter established his distance early and kept firing his jab. Each time Martin tried to penetrate that fistic forcefield, Easter pounded away some more.
“I was just comfortable,” Easter said. “Once I stay boxing, I get comfortable. I get a little bored but everybody says when I box, when I use my jab, keep my distance, I make the fight that much easier. So that’s what I was working on the whole camp. Me and my dad have been stressing on use the jab, keep your distance and that’s what we did. I wanted to fight but as you see, when I wanted to fight, I got headbutted. So, it was best to keep our distance.
“Everybody knows when I get in the ring, I want to fight. That’s just where I feel a lot of adrenaline, a lot of action, but like I said, when I box, I make it look easy. I can count on how many fingers on when I actually just stayed boxing instead brawling.”
It reached a point that between the seventh and eighth rounds, with Easter appearing way ahead, Martin’s trainer implored him to evade taking jabs and using feints, while reminding Martin that he was not doing anything right.
He was right. Martin needed to close the distance and engage Easter.
Martin did manage to get Easter against the ropes in the eighth, which was his best round of the fight. In the ninth, Easter had a cut on the corner of his left eye. It didn’t matter. Easter went back to controlling the range, using double and sometimes triple jabs.
“I followed him too much and he was able to take away our game plan,” Martin said of Easter. “He did a great job of keeping me on the outside. There’s not too much to say, he was the better man tonight.”
Easter wound up throwing 339 jabs, connecting on 82 (24%). Judges Tom Carusone (118-110), Frank Lombardi (117-111) and John McKaie (118-110) all saw it easily for Easter.
“Whoever has those straps, whoever is in the way is going to feel this wrath,” Easter said. “Me and (Adrien Broner), we’re coming to stir up the 140-pound division and that’s that. There ain’t no particular fighter, I want them all. We’re coming for all those straps.”
For a closer look at Broner vs Santiago, check out our fight night page.