Adrien Broner vs. Jovanie Santiago: Last Shot, First Shot

Two hungry fighters, one looking to reclaim his spot and the other out to take that spot, will face off when Adrien Broner and Jovanie Santiago square off Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

This Saturday, February 20, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn, former four-division world champion Adrien "The Problem" Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs) returns to the ring after a 25-month layoff in a 12-round welterweight contest. Waiting to ruin his comeback is heavy-handed Puerto Rican battler, Jovanie "El Lobito" Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs).

Also on this Premier Boxing Champions event, former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale faces former European champ Otto Wallin in a 12-round clash of heavyweight contenders. In the telecast opener, former lightweight world champ Robert Easter Jr. faces Ryan Martin in a 12-round super lightweight contest.

The Story

Adrien Broner has been one of the most electrifying personalities in boxing, with four world titles to his credit by the age of 26.

In recent years, however, inconsistent ring work has made him more sideshow than elite prizefighter. Sporting a 3-3-1 record since 2015, the Cincinnati native, who once drew comparisons to legends such as Floyd Mayweather and Aaron Pryor, suffered through a rough patch of legal trouble, financial doubt, and general lack of focus. 

Now 31 and coming off more than two years of inactivity, the former 130-, 135-, 140-, and 147-pound champ claims to be done with the wild living of the past and refocused on reaching his full potential as a fighter.

Jovanie Santiago, meanwhile, is coming out of the proverbial nowhere to try and seize this biggest opportunity of his 14-year pro career. 

Also 31, the Dorado, Puerto Rico native is looking at this Broner bout as a high-profile showcase and a shot at next-level success. With a couple of minor titles on his resume and an undefeated record against limited opposition, "El Lobito" is eager to make that huge step forward.

The Stakes

This could very well be Broner's last chance at keeping the ball rolling on a career in perceived decline. An impressive win on Saturday moves him on to bigger and better things, including another run at a world title. 

For Santiago, a one-sided loss sends him back home and keeps him at the regional level. A win—or even a spirited loss—paves the way for more money, more exposure, and more opportunity.

The Matchup

Broner has fast hands, quick reflexes, and a good sense of timing. Even at his very worst, these assets keep him a full step ahead of most opposition and make him an efficient counter puncher. He doesn't always demonstrate the best of himself over the course of a full fight, however. And, as his focus has wavered in recent years, he's shown less and less of his best.

In recent form, he's been content with doing just enough to win rounds and keep himself safe. This mindset has made it hard to step things up against next-level foes like Manny Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia, and even Jessie Vargas. 

Broner has always shown flashes of brilliance among intermittent lulls. The lulls have now surpassed the flashes, but the raw, natural ability is still clearly there. A good jump start of motivation may be all it takes to get the juices flowing again.

I miss being on top. Four-Division World Champion - Adrien Broner

Santiago is a come-forward banger. There's absolutely no mystery to the Puerto Rican's game and little, if any, nuance. He's coming to hurt his opponent.

He has good pop in both hands but is especially strong with the right. His brutal, hammering body work is his biggest offensive asset and it's been a fight-altering factor in each of his bouts. 

"El Lobito" will be coming into Saturday's fight with an extreme disadvantage in the area of experience. He's never fought outside of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and has yet to face anyone at a present tense world class level. In his biggest challenge to date, back in 2017, he struggled a bit in dealing with past-prime former world champ DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley. Dropped twice early in the fight, Santiago managed to eke out a unanimous decision and showed true grit in doing so, despite also spotlighting some real defensive liabilities.

The Words

Adrien Broner

"February 20, people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion."

Jovanie Santiago

"I’m very excited about the opportunity to step into the ring against Adrien Broner. I believe our styles are perfect for each other. But I feel like I have the skills that are necessary to beat him. I just fought a couple months ago so I feel good with the way my training has gone. I’m going to shock everyone on February 20."

The Breakdown

This is clearly Broner's fight to win or lose. The difference in experience and in skill/ability is vast. But Broner has succumbed to pressure fighters in the past and has shown that he can be outworked by a focused, tenacious opponent. Santiago is untested at a world class level, but that doesn't mean that he can't rise to the occasion, especially when his strengths line up with the favorite's weaknesses. Broner's 25 months of inactivity and outside-the-ring drama will also work to the underdog's benefit.

Expect Santiago to push forward and try to put a hurting on Broner, working the body to slow down his much quicker opponent. 

Broner will stick and move, using his fast hands and quick reflexes to land scoring shots against a foe with exploitable defensive weaknesses. He'll most likely have his way until—or unless—Santiago earns his respect with something big. 

Broner-Santiago pits a reemerging world class talent against a hungry, bomb-throwing battler with nothing to lose and everything to gain. That sure seems like the recipe for an interesting evening.

For a closer look at Broner vs Santiago, check out our fight night page. 

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