Adrien Broner has been absent from the boxing world since his Jan. 2019 loss to Manny Pacquiao, but will end his 25-month run of inactivity Saturday on Showtime (Feb. 20, 9 pm ET) when he faces Jovanie Santiago in a junior welterweight main event.
Broner (33-4-1, 24 KO) has been maybe the most scrutinized four-weight world champion ever, with losses in his biggest fights, debatable wins at times otherwise, and a lack of focus — perceived by fans and admitted by Broner himself — that has led him to some mixed results overall.
Now 31, Broner hasn’t actually won a fight since Feb. 2017, and even that win over Adrian Granados was questionable, a split decision. He’s 0-2-1 since then, and more than that, has had major troubles outside the ring, particularly in the last couple of years.
After flirting with leaving boxing for a rap career, Broner returns preaching that he’s a changed fighter and a changed man. Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KO) is an unproven fighter and 31 himself, with 15 fights in a 13-year pro career, and will be a big underdog. But AB is saying all the right things from camp:
On his matchup with Jovanie Santiago
“Santiago is hungry. He’s still undefeated and he definitely doesn’t want to lose. It’s going to be a great fight. He’s definitely going to come to fight. Anybody that has a chance to fight an Adrien Broner to put their career up another step, they’re going to bring their A-game. I’m just training my hardest and I’m going to come in and be ready on February 20.
“He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got great skills. But I just think I’m on a different level. February 20 people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon.
On his motivations for this fight
“Even if I didn’t have these pending court cases against me, I’d still be working my ass off to come back and make a fortune. That has nothing to do with my motivation. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. The motivation is that I miss the sport. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion.
“I’ve found my love for boxing again. I gave myself some time to miss boxing and I’m ready to go in there and win some more world titles. My children are what fuel me now.
On how he plans to stay on track after this fight
“I just need to go back to the gym after the fight. I’m trying to stay out of as much trouble as possible, stay out of jail and just work my ass off. I’m going to dedicate these last three to five years to straight boxing. I’m going to get as much as I can out of boxing and then retire and watch my kids grow up. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just time to get to business, make my money and do what I do best, and that’s box.”
On getting back into fighting shape
“I had to lose the 35 pounds and it was tough. I’ve put in the work. After this fight I’m going to stay on track and get right back to the gym. The goal is to become the five-time world champion, and then the sixth and the seventh time after that. I’m just working. I was so out of shape. I had to be gritty and I had to dig deep. Being out that long, I was overweight. I had to wake up and run miles and work my body back. It was tough.
“I’ve just had to change everything, change the lifestyle mostly. What would I tell a younger fighter? Just stay in the gym as much as possible. Don’t be blinded by the money and the lights and the girls and the partying life. I’m not saying don’t live your life. You can’t just box, box, box your whole life. You just have to stay relaxed.”
On fighting at 140 pounds
“I feel like 140 pounds is the weight that I want to be at. You can’t really say I made by bread and butter at 147. I’ve been a champion at 147 pounds but I’ve also been a champion at 140, 135 and 130 pounds. I think any fight at whatever weight Adrien Broner is at is a big fight. That’s the main thing. I want to fight where I feel the most comfortable right now in my career, and right now, I think 140 is the best for me.”