Vicente Escobedo knows he’s a massive underdog heading into his title showdown on Saturday against Adrien Broner – he just doesn’t care.
At 30 years old, Escobedo (26-3, 15 knockouts) has his first title shot and his first appearance in an HBO main event. He’ll be fighting for Broner’s WBO junior lightweight title in the beltholder’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, at the U.S. Bank Arena. Escobedo knows these opportunities are fleeting and plans on showing everyone he’s an improved fighter and a solution to “The Problem” at junior lightweight.
“I feel like I’m mentally and physically stronger than Adrien Broner,” Escobedo told RingTV.com. “I think I have more experience and more power. He’s going to have to fight me, he’s not going to be able to do the things he did before with other fighters, he’s fighting with a top, top fighter at his level. I’m the toughest fighter he’s ever faced.”
But Escobedo admits that Broner will “absolutely” be the toughest fighter of his career as well, saying “He has the speed, he has the power.”
The Woodland, Calif., native had a difficult stretch of fights in 2009-2010. He lost two of three bouts at lightweight, including HBO-televised bouts with Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis. There were fundamental mistakes in his game that he feels he has corrected since that stretch. The drop in weight to 130 also has him feeing rejuvenated.
“I’ve been learning, I’ve corrected the mistakes that I made in those fights,” said Escobedo, a Mexican-American. “I’ve improved so much, I know it. I think Adrien Broner’s going to bring out the best in me. Everything that I’ve been through, the ups and downs, I really feel great at ’30.”
But he has a formidable task in front of him. Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) possesses a dazzling array of size, speed, power and athleticism that is hard to cope with. The 22-year-old Cincinnati native has stopped all his opponents since his lackluster HBO debut against Daniel Ponce de Leon in March 2011. “The Problem” is a smart fighter and Escobedo can’t afford to make any costly mistakes.
“You can’t give Adrien Broner an opening,” said the 2004 Olympian. “You don’t want to get in there and make mistakes, he can catch you that way. He takes advantage of his opportunities. But with timing, you can beat speed.”
With three losses on his ledger, this is likely Escobedo’s last opportunity on the big stage. An upset over Broner would be just another shocker in a year of surprises. For Escobedo, 30 is the new 20.
“At 30, I feel my best. I feel like a completely different fighter,” said Escobedo, who is trained by Joel Diaz. “This is a huge opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it. A win over Adrien Broner would change my career. I don’t just want to put on a good fight, I’m going to win that belt on Saturday. I’m coming to win. You’re going to see the whole package on Saturday.
Not many people are picking “Chente” and he is clearly the B-side on the HBO broadcast in Broner’s hometown. But to Escobedo, it’s just extra motivation and he’s using it as bulletin board material.
“It fires me up that people don’t think I can do it,” he says. “They think it’s impossible and everything’s always possible. I’m going to go in there with no respect and an attitude to win. I’m going to prove everyone wrong and say ‘I told you guys so.’”