Unbeaten junior lightweight Adrien Broner, THE RING’s No. 6-rated 130 pounder, vowed to crush Jason Litzau long before he actually did, calling Litzau “wild and slow” prior to dismantling him with 11 unanswered blows over the final 16 seconds of a first-round knockout victory in June.
Broner’s effort against Litzau helped to quell criticism he received for essentially taking his foot off of the gas pedal down the stretch during a unanimous 10-round decision triumph over southpaw Mexican former WBO super bantamweight titlist Daniel de Leon in March, this, despite the fact that Broner won all but one round on the card of judge Tony Crebs, who scored it in his favor, 99-91.
“Ponce de Leon, you know, he was a ruffian. He had more knockouts than I had fights, and one of the biggest punchers in my weight class. I learned that I am the problem. I can beat anybody that they put in front of me. He was a great fighter, but I stayed focused in front of what was his home fans and I felt overall that I did amazing,” said Broner, who is nicknamed, “The Problem.”
“You know, what? They’ll never give me the credit when it’s due. There are always going to be critics. I really don’t worry about the critics. Because 95 percent of the time, they people who are giving their opinions never have been in the ring a day in their lives. So you really can’t worry about the critics. You just have to go in there and do your best at all times.”
The 22-year-old Broner (21-0, 17 KOs) is determined to shine before his hometown fans at U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, in Saturday night’s HBO-televised clash against hard-hitting Vicente Martin Rodrigues (34-2, 19 KOs), of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
But even if he’s sensational, Broner’s not pressed about winning over his detractors.
“Even if I go out there and knock this guy out, there are still going to be some critics who have something bad to say,” said Broner.
“It comes with the name, it comes with the fighter, and it comes with boxing, so that’s something that I’ve noticed. I just put it behind me. I don’t even see it. I’m Ray Charles to the criticism.”
Broner’s job won’t get any easier against Rodrigues, who is 13-0-1 with nine knockouts since losing by unanimous decision to William Kickett over 10 rounds in August of 2008.
Before losing to Kickett, whom Broner stopped in the sixth round in June of 2009, Rodrigues had won six consecutive fights, including three by knockout. Rodrigues’ previous loss before Kickett was via 10-round split-decision to Sergio Javier Benitez in March of 2007.
Broner is looking to build on his performance against Litzau, where his boxing skills set up his punching power.
“If really analyze the Litzau fight, you’ll see that I didn’t just go out there looking for the knockout. It presented itself and I just took it. I knew I could have knocked the guy out any time that I touched him,” said Broner.
“But I was going to let it present itself. And when it did, I just seized the moment. I was boxing, I saw the shot, and I had to take him out. I wasn’t looking for the first-round knockout, but it came. Under three minutes, an HBO check, you know, why not?”
Ponce de Leon lost his next bout by eight-round, technical decision in September to RING No. 1-rated unbeaten featherweight standout Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs), who is considering a rise in weight and an eventual clash with RING No. 1-rated WBA lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) sometime next year.
Broner believes that he’s ready to be mentioned along with the likes of Gamboa and Rios.
“It’s kind of funny, because those guys are good, and I have nothing against those guys, but you put those guys in front of me, and you would probably think differently about those guys. I make the good guys look like they’re not even on my level,” said Broner.
“In this game, there’s good boxers, there’s great boxers, and then there’s elite boxers, and I see myself as an elite boxer. So, if those guys really want to fight ‘The Problem,’ then tell them to sign a contract and we can do it. But right now, I’m focused on Martin Rodrigues. After we handle this business, then the Gamboas and the Rios’s and all of them, they can come to the table.”
Photo by Pat Lovell, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org