A week ago Saturday, Adrien Broner stopped Vicente Escobedo in five rounds on HBO’s Boxing After Dark or as Steve Kim correctly penned it Boxing After Farce.
For those unaware of the situation, Broner entered the bout prepared to defend his WBO junior lightweight title against Escobedo. Broner would lose the title on the scales as he missed the 130 pound weight limit on Friday’s weigh-in. To be truthful, Broner did not just miss the weight. He weighed 133.5 pounds. Normally a fighter is given an hour or two to make weight. Immediately after weighing in, Broner began to drink water and eat. Being the big ticket guy facing an opponent who needs the paycheck, Broner clearly had no intention of making weight and dared Escobedo to walk away with nothing.
After fines were levied against Broner, negotiations between the two camps ensued and an agreement was struck. Broner would have a 9:00 a.m. weigh-in on Saturday where he could not weigh more than 140 pounds. Well, Broner again missed weight. He came in at 143.5 pounds. After further negotiations, the fight was salvaged at the last minute. Simply put, Escobedo had put in six plus weeks of training and has a six week old baby. He needed the money and Broner exploited it.
The fight itself was lopsided. Broner won every round en route to a fifth round stoppage. Escobedo gave it everything he had, but he really stood no chance. Broner was already heavily favored in the bout. Adding on the weight advantage just made the situation dangerous.
It goes without saying that these tactics really upset me. The big money maker in this fight, Broner, was able to hold the lesser known, lower money making fighter, Escobedo, hostage. No matter what happened here, Broner was going to be on HBO fighting in the future. He is talented and is a network fighter. Escobedo, on the other hand, was looking at his biggest pay day. If he pulled out of the bout, Escobedo would have received nothing. No money for the six plus weeks of training. He could have been blackballed from HBO for ruining a telecast. In essence, Escobedo had to risk his health because Broner was arrogant and knew that he could get away with missing weight because boxing does not have rules in place that appropriately punish a fighter for this infraction.
If you are wondering how we know Broner intentionally missed weight, I will point to a few factors. First, fighters don’t miss by three and a half pounds unless they really can’t make weight or missed on purpose. You are more likely to see a fighter miss weight by a pound at most, not three and a half. If a fighter is legitimately off on weight leading up to a fight, usually early negotiations are made or discussions occur to make sure the fight can go forward. Second, Broner immediately began to drink water and eat. He had no intention of trying to cut weight to get as close as he could to 130 pounds. Third, Broner was tweeting pictures of junk food, twinkies quite often, in the lead up to the bout. Fourth, Broner’s excuse for missing weight was “outgrowing the division” because he is 22 years old. Please. If that truly was the case, you make arrangements a week or two prior when you see you can’t make weight. Also, you look a lot more drained at the weigh-in. Broner did not look like a fighter who tried to make weight.
For those wondering if the weight is a big deal, trust me when I say it is. The hardest weight for a fighter to lose is the last two to three pounds. Fighter’s lose a lot making that final push to make weight that they don’t get back by fight time. The stress and the toll on the body to make weight cannot be understated. If Broner had drained himself and done everything he could to make weight, I would not be as furious with him. However, he simply did not try. He looked like a guy who could have made it if he wanted to push through those hard last three pounds. Instead, Broner gamed the system and embarrassed the sport of boxing.
To make matters worse, Broner was non-apologetic. He even added salt to the Escobedo wounds by faking a proposal. Escobedo proposed to his now wife after a bout and Broner decided he would make light of that proposal after a bout in which he made light of an entire sport. If Broner wants to wear the proverbial black hat of the bad guy, fine, but do it honorably. Don’t miss weight, force a fighter to risk his health even further than usual because he has no choice, and then act like you did nothing wrong. No matter what hat fighters wear, most show respect for the sport itself. Broner missed that lesson.
My hat goes off to Escobedo and his team. They were left in an unenviable position of walking away from a career high paycheck or taking a fight under extremely unfair condition. Escobedo took the fight and did the best he could given the circumstances. I hope he finds success in future bouts under more fair circumstances.
As for Broner, well, he has been successful in being a bad guy/show man. Unfortunately, he took it too far, disrespecting his opponent, HBO, and the sport. He now has people hating him for being unprofessional rather than his act. Knowing Broner, this is probably what he wanted all along. Maybe it will work for him, but I know myself and many other fight fans have lost a lot of respect for him and it will not be easily earned back.