Adrien Broner: No one should be so presumptuous as to dismiss Broner as a loser … but he sure acted like one before and after his fight against Vicente Escobedo on Saturday. He in effect failed to make weight twice, once during the official weigh-in on Friday – after which he didn’t try to sweat it off — and again after agreeing to another weight limit on Saturday. And he didn’t seem to care a bit. He and his handlers bought his way out the dilemma by paying fines, thereby creating an unfair size advantage over a fighter who had the professionalism to make weight in the first place. Then, in an interview immediately after brutally knocking out Escobedo in the fifth round, he didn’t even hint at an apology. Broner should be ashamed of himself but I don’t think he knows what the word shame means. We all admire Broner’s unusual talent; he could turn out to be better than Floyd Mayweather Jr. I can guarantee you something, though: He has lost a lot of fans because of his behavior. The good news is that he has time to change his deteriorating image. The bad news is that I’m not sure he wants to. Playing the villain has worked for Mayweather. It could work for Broner too.
Vicente Escobedo: One could argue that Escobedo (26-4, 15 knockouts) shouldn’t have stepped into the ring if he knew Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) had an unfair weight advantage; that was his choice. However, we shouldn’t be critical: The former Olympian trained hard the past six weeks or so and has a wife and new baby feed. I think most of us would do the same thing. And he fought gamely, giving all he had against a superior – and stronger – opponent. The former U.S. Olympian won our hearts and admiration after the fight, though. First, carrying himself like a true sportsman, he gave Broner credit for his sensational performance. And then, with emotion bubbling to service, he uttered words that dramatically captured the injustice of what had transpired: “I was away from my family, my wife … I don’t know … just to come here and net get a fair, fair fight … I just got emotional, as you can see … but I came to fight.” One thing that came out of the 11th-hour negotiations that allowed the fight to happen was WBO’s decision to have Escobedo fight for its now-vacant 130-pound title. Maybe there’s some justice after all.
Keith Thurman: Thurman’s power is obvious. Orlando Lora (29-3-2, 19 KOs) didn’t quit in the sixth round of their fight on the Broner-Escobedo undercard because he was embarrassed; he stopped fighting because he was in pain. Thurman’s record also is stark evidence that the young welterweight/junior middleweight has unusual power: 18-0, 17 knockouts. He started his career with a Jack Dempsey-like eight consecutive first-round stoppages. That ability to crack already is winning him a lot of fans. What might not be so obvious is the Floridian’s boxing ability and athleticism. He was an accomplished amateur – losing to Demetrius Andrade in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials – and it shows in his fights. The point is that a fighter with great power and both skill and athleticism could go a long, long way. Thurman, who is only 23, is definitely one to watch.
Juan Carlos Burgos: The thing about Burgos’ performance against then-unbeaten Cesar Vazquez on Friday Night Fights that most impressed me was his patience and belief in himself. Vazquez (25-1, 16 KOs) was a dynamo for two-plus rounds, applying intense pressure on Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) that might’ve overwhelmed a lesser opponent. Burgos, an eight-year pro, calmly withstood the onslaught, fired back enough to keep Vazquez honest and waited. He knew his opportunity would come. And it did in the third round, when Burgos landed a perfect left-right combination to the head of his rugged opponent and followed with a fearsome flurry that prompted referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight. The winner fought like a seasoned pro. Burgos, who has won five consecutive fights since losing in 2010 to Hozumi Hasegawa in his only title shot, is rated No. 2 by the WBO and could end up fighting Escobedo for that organization’s vacant championship. The opportunity would be richly deserved. And don’t be surprised if he wins.
Broner, when asked on Sunday what he took away from this debacle: “I’m just growing up, you know? I’m still maturing in this game. I’m maturing mentally and physically. This is a growing process, and I’m going to be around for a long time. ”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org