By: Sergio L. Martinez
The debut show for promotional outfit Premier Boxing Championships (PBC) on cable network powerhouse NBC posed an intriguing pair of fights with combatants known for their willingness to engage. Fan-friendly styles adorned both matches and this was appropriate: boxing was making its return to prime time cable television after a 30-year-absence.
The telecast’s main event pitted the always entertaining, wild veteran, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, taking on budding power-punching star Keith “One-Time” Thurman in a 12 round bout. After inconsistent spurts by both men, the contest heated up late and ultimately lived up to expectations of being an exciting match. Overall, it was a great way to close the return to cable after a lackluster co-main event.
The opening bout of the television portion of the promotion was to have been a showcase for Adrien “The Problem” Broner, one of the most disliked prizefighters of the modern era.
After a fast rise and at the brink of real stardom, Broner was mauled back to earth by the heavy hands of Marcos “Chino” Maidana in December 2013. Although Broner bounced back with a couple of wins via decision in 2014, outside of his mouth, The Problem failed to gain the momentum he had prior to facing Maidana.
Coming into Saturday’s fight, Broner had a new promoter, was fighting on cable television and had been handed an extremely limited, slow-handed, face-first brawler in John “The Gladiator” Molina Jr. Known as an aggressive, high contact fighter in his own right, the table had been set for Broner to electrify the airwaves and recapture some of his lost luster.
Broner’s slow start was not surprising, as he is known to get going three or four rounds into the fight. He predictably circled the flatfooted Molina, occasionally landing a jab followed by a straight right-hand. Molina was not able to get a rhythm as The Problem remained in his envelope early and seemed to be conserving himself for the onslaught that was sure to come.
Towards the middle of a slow affair, in which the ringside announcer crew struggled to fill in the gaps because of the lulls in the action, Broner showed some signs of life.
The Problem’s problem was that after a few rallies in which he clearly showed his superiority over The Gladiator, he would go right back into his shell and potshot his opponent with a few jabs followed by the occasional right hand. Although this kept the Cincinnati, Ohio native safe, it certainly did not make for good television. It appeared that Adrien could’ve ended the fight had he upped his aggression and pressured Molina. The last two rounds saw Broner dancing away from any type of engagement, going so far as to include an all-out retreat in the final minute of the fight.
In his post-fight interview, Broner basically admitted that fighting for the enjoyment of the fans was not his goal anymore: the last time he did that, “I lost.” I’m sure this is not a message that his new promoters or any cable network executives anywhere wanted to hear. Still, it is what his actions in the fight suggested, and this verbal confirmation left no doubt.
Had it not been for the later rounds of the Thurman V. Guerrero fight, PBC’s inaugural show would have been a wash. Now that Adrien “The Problem” Broner has made it clear that pleasing the fans is no longer part of his vernacular, one can only hope that PBC reassess his viability as one of the main fighters to make boxing successful on cable airways.