SAN DIEGO – February 16, 2013 – Boxing heads, February’s fight schedule isn’t a real lovefest, so you’ve got to love the one you’re with.
Injuries have caused several key fights to be postponed. Danny Garcia’s bout against Zab Judah is now scheduled in April after Garcia suffered a rib injury. The fight most of us had looked forward to seeing on Saturday, the undercard rematch of heavyweights Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell, got derailed when Banks broke a finger in training.
So we’re left with Saturday night’s event from Atlantic City featuring Adrien “The Problem” Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) fighting former junior welterweight titleholder Gavin Rees of Wales (37-1-1, 18 KOs), who signed on after Ricky Burns of Scotland dropped out, reportedly because he wanted too big a payday, and moved up to lightweight.
Broner styles himself as a Floyd Mayweather type fighter and the heir apparent to Money, working his defensive skills along with his punching power inside the ring, while talking smack and showing off outside the ring.
Promoter hype aside, Broner, admittedly still young at age 23, hasn’t stepped up to face any true quality opponents. When Mayweather was Broner’s age, he’d already beaten Diego Corrales, then Jose Luis Castillo twice. In short order he went on to beat Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar de la Hoya (now the promoter of Saturday’s event) and Ricky Hatton along with other lesser players. Mayweather has earned the right to mouth off.
Broner is a talent, but he still falls into the ranks of “up and coming” talent. Arrive, and he earns the right to sing his own praises all he wants when he can back it up. As long as he cultivates serious training habits and lets his skills do the talking inside the ring, keeping the circus act outside the ring (including his wackadoo daddy), Broner will be a champion for many years and he’ll deserve the big bucks and fame of his mentor.
But it won’t come from this fight. No disrespect to the tough Rees, but being able to take a punch does not make you an opponent to be feared. This is the first fight in the U.S. for Rees. His opponents don’t count for much, when you fight guys with records like 2-36, 8-40, and 26-110. Come on. Rees isn’t likely to have a lot of fans in the Atlantic City audience. Rees will probably hang in there for more rounds than Broner’s previous opponents, but this isn’t saying a whole lot.
Broner has the speed of the best fighters, and enough punching power to get the job done, if not the potential for that single wicked blow. He employs the same sort of shoulder rolling, frustrating defense like Mayweather, which forces his opponents to try and get inside on him. But when they do, they get burned up close by Broner’s speed.
Broner easily made the 135 lightweight limit at weigh-in Friday afternoon at 134 pounds; Rees weighed 134.5. Broner hasn’t always had the best training habits, including the infamous failure to make weight for a fight last July after posting photos of Twinkies and Twix candy bars, laughing about being a junk food junkie. No Adrien, you will never ever live that one down with me.
Broner came to the scales Friday with a soda can in his hand, getting on the scale with it and taking a swig. Was he paid to promote the brand name, or just showing off that he could drink a sugary soda on the scale and still easily make weight? That’s how Broner rolls. He then proceeded to yak in Rees’ ear, while Rees refused to turn toward him and pose for the traditional face-off. Rees grabbed Broner’s championship belt as it to say, “I’m going to take this off you Saturday night.” Sorry Gavin, but that’s as close as you’re getting to having that belt.
Without the Banks-Mitchell undercard, we’ll get to see Sakio Bika vs. Nikola Sjekloca as the warm-up act. Both weighted 167.5 pounds for this super welterweight title elimination fight. Once in a blue moon, a fighter gets a chance like this on a much bigger stage and makes the most of it. Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs), age 33, might be best known for winning the reality TV show “The Contender” in 2007. He was on the 2000 Olympic team for Camaroon, and now fights out of Australia.
Sjekloca (25-0, 7 KOs), age 34, is from Montenegro and has made easy work of his opponents in Europe so far. This is his first fight in the U.S., so we’ll see how he likes the Jersey Shore air in Atlantic City.
The undercard also includes non-televised fights featuring 2012 U.S. Olympic Team members Rau’Shee Warren and Jamel Herring, along with junior middleweight action between Charles Whittaker and Demetrius Hopkins, and Vicente Escobedo against Edner Cherry in a junior lightweight matchup.
Broner vs. Rees and Bika vs. Sjekloca airs on HBO’s “Boxng After Dark” from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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