By Sean Crose
It had been an “eh” night of boxing so far. Andre Berto had ended his long layoff from the ring with a decision victory over Steve Upsher. Sure, Berto had been dominant, but the fact that he was unable to polish off his game opponent was telling. Afterwards, Lucas Matthysse earned a slightly controversial second round victory over Roberto Ortiz (did or didn’t Ortiz get up before the ten count?) after Matthysse dropped his foe with a body blow.
One could only hope that the main event would deliver fireworks. The odds of that happening weren’t good, however. For Adrien Broner was battling in front of his home crowd of Cincinnati, Ohio. What’s more, Broner’s opponent, Emmanuel Taylor, was not the stuff dream matches were made of. This was supposed to be a showcase bout, plain and simple. Would that be all it was? Most viewers of the Showtime card undoubtedly hoped that wouldn’t be the case.
To be sure, Taylor was a talented fighter. He had given Chris Algieri a good challenge in February and was coming fresh off a victory over Karim Mayfield. His weakness was his lack of activity while practicing his craft. In other words, the man didn’t throw nearly enough punches during his previous fights. It was a weakness Broner would clearly take advantage of if Taylor continued to be afflicted by it once the bout got under way.
Broner came out to the ring accompanied by a rap act, smiling and dancing while wearing his trademark sunglasses. He was clearly the crowd favorite in Cincinnati, but not a fan favorite among fight followers. This, of course, was at least partially by design, as Broner had pushed himself to being a figure fans loved to hate.
After Broner’s hair was combed (a Broner tradition) and the announcements were made, it was time for the bout to begin. An aggressive Taylor took the first round, but Broner certainly didn’t look bad. It was, when all was said and done, a solid start. Then – surprise, surprise – Taylor took round two. He wasn’t blowing his man out, to be sure, but the Maryland native had taken an early lead nonetheless.
Broner came back and took the third, then rocked his man in the fourth. What’s more, Taylor resorted to not throwing punches. Broner closed the round looking terrific – better, in fact, than he had in ages. Would he be able to stay in the zone?
Taylor looked good throughout the fifth, but then gave the round away in the last thirty seconds. Broner was winning by that point, but the fight was far from a blowout. In fact, the outcome was still anyone’s guess.
Taylor came out swinging in the sixth – and ended up taking the round. By the midway point of the fight, this author had the bout even. Broner took the seventh, thanks to Taylor once again ceasing to throw enough punches. He took the eighth, too, for the exact same reason. Same with the ninth.
Taylor, truth be told, was a maddening fighter to watch. For one felt he could do so much more if only he threw more punches. He couldn’t or wouldn’t do it, though, so Broner was able to brawl his way to a hard fought decision victory (capped off by a twelfth round knockdown of Taylor).
As for Broner, it was hard to say how he looked – for Taylor was a foe who one couldn’t help but feel lost the bout as much as Broner had won it. There were flashes of a great fighter, true, but Taylor had too many good moments for anyone to say Broner had put on a dominant performance. And a dominant performance was what the man desperately needed to have.
The Problem still has a Problem rebuilding his reputation.