Vicente Escobedo plans to bring the action to WBO junior lightweight beltholder Adrien Broner, whom he challenges in an HBO-televised titlebout on Saturday at the U.S. Bank Arena in Broner’s hometown of Cincinnati.
While Escobedo (26-3, 15 knockouts) is after his fourth straight win, he is also trying to end a streak of four consecutive knockout victories scored by Broner (23-0, 19 KOs).
Escobedo, who has fought at or below 132.5 pounds since losing a 10-round decision to former two-division titleholder Robert Guerrero in November of 2010, believes he could be the most difficult fight yet for Broner.
When he lost to Guerrero, Escobedo was was two fights removed from a split-decision loss to Michael Katsidis in another lightweight bout in September of 2009. Escobedo has fought 11 times above the 130-pound weght limit, where he has suffered all three of his losses by decision to Daniel Jiminez, Katsidis and Guerrero.
Escobedo has also overcome an injury to his right hand, originally suffered in his bout against Guerrero. Since the loss to Guerrero, Escobedo has increased his punching power to the point where he has scored at least one knockdown in three of his past four wins.
The 2004 U.S. Oympian had perhaps his most impressive win during that run against Lonnie Smith, whom he floored three times on the way to a first-round knockout.
A breakdancer as a teenager, Escobedo entered the ring to what he considered “Old School” techno beats for the Telefutura-televised fight against Smith, an ending that was initiated by a jab that set up a hook-cross combination.
“When I walked into the arena, I walked in to Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa. It’s kind of my thing. I like to dance, man,” said Escobedo, during an earlier interview about the entrance.
“I used to breakdance and that kind of gets me fired up and ready to just go out there and do my thing, have some fun and go out there and fight. I like a lot of the old school, you know, from the 1980s. I really loved the ’80s era, so I usually listen to that sort of stuff as I started my breakdancing at around the age of 14 all the way through high school.”
Escobedo’s love for music could make for an interesing night of boxing against Broner, an aspiring rapper whose entrance for his fourth-round knockout of Eloy Perez in February featured Broner’s dancing and rapping a cut of his own creation.
Broner, whose ring nickname is “Da Problem,” carries the rap monicker, “AJ Da Problem,” and regularly posts videos on Youtube.
Escobedo shared his thoughts on Broner in this Q&A with RingTV.com.
RingTV.com: How tough can you make this fight for Broner?
Vicente Escobedo: I definitely think that I’m going to be the toughest opponent that Adrien has ever faced, and vice versa. I think that he’s the most difficult opponent that I’ve faced as well.
Is he the strongest? I don’t think so. I think that I’ve faced stronger fighters in the past. But he’s definitely the most skillful and the best, all-around fighter that I will have ever faced.
RingTV.com: Of your opponents, who most favorably compares to Broner?
VE: I think that Guerrero was the toughest and the strongest fighter that I’ve faced so far. Robert Guerrero was definitely tough and stronger, and I know that Adrien Broner is not as strong as Robert Guerrero.
So I’ve faced a stronger fighter. I know that with Michael Katsidis, he was a much bigger guy and much more aggressive than Adrien Broner. So I’ve faced some pretty tough opponents.
But Adrien is going to be different, boxing-wise, and as far as his skill-set. He’s got speed and he’s a different fighter. As far as his toughness, that’s something that he’s yet to prove.
RingTV.com: Do you consider your having been at a higher weight and being an inch taller at 5-foot-8 to his 5-7 any sort of an advantage?
VE: I think I’ll be coming at about 143, so I’ll maybe gain around 10 pounds or so. Maybe not that much weight. But my advantages are that I believe that I have more experience and I’ll be smarter in there than some of the guys that he’s faced.
I’ll be more willing to take a chance, and I don’t think Broner is going to be willing to do that. I don’t think that he will take the risks. I need to make him uncomfortable, and with me being smarter in there, I think that I can use my experience from the past.
I do think that my height and the length of my arms is another advantage that I have. He has speed, but I have speed as well, and I think that my timing can take care of his speed as well.
Just being smart and having the right timing and being in great condition will make him have to think a lot more in the ring than he has in the past.
Before, he would be in control throughout most of the fight against his other opponents. They allowed him to completely take control, but in this fight, he is not going to be in control. It might go back and forth, where I’m in control and then he’s going to be in control for a little bit.
It’s going to be a chess game. He’s going to have to think more in there because I’ve been through it all and I’ve experienced it all and I’ve had to adapt to different things.
Those other fighters that he’s faced, they weren’t able to do that. He was able to break them and to just take control, and I’m not going to let that happen.
Broner’s not going to be able to break me. I’m going to take control and I’m going to dictate the pace. So it might go back and forth. I’m going to go in there and take chances.
RingTV.com: Will he experience more pressure as a result of the home crowd, or is the pressure on you, and do you think you can win a decision in his home town?
VE: First of all, I know that I can win a decision there. And as far as pressure, the pressure is on him. There is no pressure on me. He’s got to entertain his fans, and that’s the mind-set that we have.
He’s there to entertain the fans, and I’m there to go in there and take his belts. I’m here to win. That’s the only thing on my mind. The fans are going to be on Adrien’s side, but that’s fine.
They’re not in the ring. I’m not fighting his entire home town. I’m going to be just be more amped up and more excited. So I’m going to use all of that against him.
RingTV.com: With your past experience as a breakdancer and his aspiring rap career, who is going to have the better ring entrance?
VE: [Laughs.] I don’t think nothing is going to be as spectacular as Adrien Broner’s ring entrance. He loves it. I have to give it to the guy.
He’s a character and he really puts on a show. But that’s fine. I’ll have my moments for that, and I used to be a breakdancer as a kid. I’ll do it here and there.
My friends sometimes ask me to bust a couple of moves. But there is a time and a place for that. I’m here to take care of business, and that means winning the title belts.
Maybe after I win the belts and the fight, then I’ll do some breakdancing in the ring afterwards. Who knows? You guys will see. Whatever I do, though, it won’t be quite what Adrien does, but you’ll see.
Photos by Pat Lovell, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com