Quite possibly the biggest, most meaningful non-title fight of 2017 takes place Saturday, July 29th, when the infamous Adrien “The Problem” Broner (33-2, 24 KO’s) squares off against Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO’s). This highly anticipated affair is presented by Premier Boxing Champions and broadcast live by SHOWTIME, from Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. Despite zero straps being up for grabs, Broner and Garcia have accumulated seven world championships between them, with eye’s squarely set on scratching that itch for more. To the victor goes the spoils, so too does more lucrative, higher profile opportunities.
Broner, who turns 28 on July 28th, barnstormed thru the early phases of his career, spewing verbal excrement, backing it up and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. He quickly became the W.B.O. super featherweight champion, then the WBC lightweight champion, violently dispatching of Martin Rodriguez and Antonio DeMarco for those laurels. 2004 United States Olympian, Vincente Escobedo, Jason Litzau and Gavin Rees were all dismantled in equally impressive fashion. .
By the time Broner decided to skip the super lightweight division altogether and move up twelve pounds to challenge for Paulie Malignaggi's WBA welterweight title, an indelible impression was left on the game in the form of his alter ego, “A.B.” ("About Billions"). "Money" Mayweather-lite, if you will; a younger, wittier, funnier, more verbose version of the character Floyd's crafted over the years. The "Problem" was, Broner lacked Mayweather's discipline and dedication to his craft – there was style, but no substance to his shoulder roll. A man named William Leonard Roberts II rocks a long beard and rhymes about the lifestyle of his alter-ego, "Rick Ross", but he never put in the work "Freeway" Ricky Ross did. Similarly, the bearded Broner willingly attached himself to a very hard act to follow, sans Floyd's single mindedness and focus on the details of what it takes to become and maintain greatness.
Nonetheless, Broner won his third title in his third weight class via split decision over Malignaggi, a fighter who very few have looked good against. But things came a bit unhinged after that, when Broner met Marcos Maidana, who beat him up, dropped Adrien twice, muscled him around the ring and won a clear unanimous decision. It has to be noted though, Broner displayed tremendous heart that night. Having been knocked down as early as round 2 (and again in the 8th), more than a few fighters would have found a safer, less painful exit than a humbling 12 round loss. Broner took his ass whipping like a man, but also looked out of his depths at 147 pounds, a feeling that was reinforced four fights later, after another clear, unanimous decision loss, this time to Shawn Porter. Despite his undeniable talent, Broner learned the hard way that Boxing has weight classes for a reason. He bounced back quickly, garnering a fourth world title in his fourth division, moving down to super lightweight, picking up the vacant WBA title. But to the surprise of no one, Broner relinquished that championship in his very next fight, for failure to make weight.- Perfectly summing up Adrien Broner’s career to this point.
Discipline, conditioning and focus have never been issues for Mikey Garcia, but inactivity certainly has been. Disenchanted with his contract with Top Rank and promoter, Bob Arum, Garcia, who turns 30 in December, elected to sit on the shelf for 2 1/2 years. He's now signed with Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions, picking up where he left off and Broner will be his third bout back. Prior to the self imposed hiatus, Garcia was on the brink of the pound for pound list. He bounced Orlando Salido off the canvas like a basketball, to become the W.B.O. featherweight champion, stretched Juan Manuel Lopez and stopped Rocky Martinez in 8 rounds for the W.B.O. super featherweight title. In just his second bout after the extended layoff, Garcia claimed the WBC lightweight title with a "KO of the Year" level performance against DeJan Zlaticanin.
Mikey was born into a Boxing family; his father, Eduardo, trained “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas and his son, Robert Garcia (Mikey’s older brother and current trainer) to world titles. Eduardo’s eldest son, Danny, guided “Vicious” Victor Ortiz to a championship, also. Growing up, Mikey, the youngest of the fighting Garcia’s, didn’t like Boxing all that much, but there was no doubt he was good at it. His style is relaxed, smart, patient, fundamentally sound, with a complete arsenal of shots and predicated on ending contests inside the distance, as evidenced by his 83% KO ratio. He’s a dangerous man and when asked to elaborate on what makes him hazardous to the health of other prizefighters, Garcia said, “My ring IQ, my patience. My timing allows me to dictate the pace, dictate the range, that distance. I have the timing to attack, timing to defend, timing to retreat.” What Mikey also has is the same trainer who worked Marcos Maidana’s corner during his upset of Broner, his brother, Robert. On one hand, Garcia’s aware that Maidana has a completely different style, but it goes without saying you’d rather your trainer be familiar with your upcoming opponent than oblivious to him. “I’ve seen Adrien have problems when fighters attack him”, Mikey added, “I don’t see how I can lose.”
Hard to imagine him losing from this view point as well, all things considered. At the elite level, this is pretty much a do or die fight for Broner. The agreed upon weight is 140 pounds, there’s rumored to be a clause in the language of the contract charging as much as half a million dollars for missing weight. Broner’s never lost a fight below 147 pounds, but does he possess the requisite determination to do so in a must-win situation? If not, Adrien’s lifestyle will have once again undermined his Boxing potential and he’ll forever be defined by it.
If Broner does come in on point, we’ll see two championship level fighters duking it out in the pocket, in a possible “Fight of the Year” candidate. No belt on the line, with no one caring there’s no belt on the line, either.