Adrien Broner insisted from the get-go that Saturday’s fight against former sparring partner Adrian Granados wasn’t going to be easy. Some may have thought Broner was simply trying to hype a bout he was co-promoting. Turns out, the former four-division champion was being 100 percent truthful.
In a back-and-forth, action-packed 147-pound brawl, Adrien Broner (33-2, 24 KOs) escaped with a 10-round split decision before a partisan crowd of 6,085 at the Cintas Center in his hometown of Cincinnati.
The victory in his official 147-pound debut was Broner’s third in a row and came on the heels of a career-long 10-month layoff. Conversely, Adrian Granados (18-5-2) saw a five-fight winning streak halted as he ended up on the wrong side of a narrow decision for the fifth time in his 8½-year pro career.
Judges Steve Weisfeld (97-93) and Robert Pope (96-94) scored the contest in favor of Broner, while judge Phil Rogers had it 97-93 for Granados.
“I knew Adrian Granados was going to come as tough as a steak that’s cooked too long,” said Broner, who had been out of the ring since a ninth-round TKO of Ashley Theophane on April 1, 2016. “Like I told you before [the fight], Adrian Granados is a world-class fighter. A lot of guys duck him, but I wanted to fight him because I knew he’d bring the best out of me.”
Broner had hired Granados to be his sparring partner prior to his December 2013 unanimous decision loss to Marcus Maidana, and the two became fast friends. Not surprisingly, then, the familiarity between the two fighters was evident from the outset Saturday night.
Knowing Broner had struggled in the past with aggressive opponents, Granados pressed the action from the opening bell and continued to do so for virtually the entire 10 rounds.
Broner, however, was more than ready for Granados’ come-forward tactics, answering his fellow 27-year-old foe’s aggression with well-timed counterpunches, namely a right uppercut and left hook that frequently hit the mark.
“ Like I told you before [the fight], Adrian Granados is a world-class fighter. A lot of guys duck him, but I wanted to fight him because I knew he’d bring the best out of me. ” Adrien Broner, former four-division world champion
Granados displayed his toughness, though, walking through shots and scoring with several combinations to the head and body, usually while fighting in close. The Illinois native did so as blood streamed down his face after a clash of heads in Round 3 opened a gash on the bridge of his nose.
While Granados dealt with a bloody face for the majority of the fight, Broner said he also had to overcome some adversity: In a post-fight interview, he said he injured his left hand with one of the first punches he landed.
“I don’t make excuses, but when we first came out, I hit him with a hard left hook,” Broner said. “From then on, my left hand was no good. That’s why I couldn’t throw my jab as much. That’s why I had to stay on the inside.
“If I didn’t stay on the inside, I’d have had no chance, because I couldn’t throw my jab. So I had to adjust to what I had.”
As much action as there was throughout the fight, there were also several lulls that were the result of frequent holding, much of which was initiated by Broner. That made the fight very difficult to score, as evidenced by the fact that the judges were in complete agreement on only the opening two rounds, with Broner sweeping Round 1 and Granados taking Round 2.
Even in the 10th round, the two fighters had their moments, including about a minute in when they simultaneously landed big right hands. But two punches in the final 10 seconds—Broner’s short right uppercut-left hook combination to the head that landed flush—may have been the difference, as the former champ won the final round on two scorecards, including Pope’s.
Had Pope given the 10th to Granados, the fight would’ve ended in a draw.
Needless to say, Granados disagreed with the decision, and didn’t hesitate to request a rematch.
“I knew it wasn’t a pretty fight, but I thought I outworked him,” said Granados, who in addition to two disputed draws has suffered all five of his losses by split or majority decision. “I understand I don’t have the perfect record. You can talk about all the losses. But you all know I can beat any of these guys.
“[Broner] fought smart, he did his thing. But you saw the scorecards—split decision. Well, beat me again. Let’s do it at my house. Come to Chicago.”
Broner didn’t directly address his friend’s request for a second go-round, and he also brushed off questions about what’s next for him in the ring.
Instead, the fighter nicknamed “The Problem” was more interested in revisiting a narrative he attempted to advance in the lead-up to Saturday’s fight: that he’s put his past legal troubles behind him and is finally ready to be as mature a man outside the ring as he is gifted inside of it.
“I’m taking my career more seriously. I’m trying to be more positive,” Broner said. “I want to give a public apology to not only my fans but the parents out there who have kids who look up to me for all the foolish things I’ve done in the past.
“I can promise you that going forward, I’ll be a better role model, a better father figure and a better star for you all.”