By Kieran Mulvaney
Adrien Broner lost a title and then won a fight. He also won the opportunity to keep moving on to bigger and better things; though the way he did so won't sit easily with all of his fans. But at the end of the day, his record will show he became the first man to stop Vicente Escobedo, and the controversy that surrounded this fight will fade away, leaving only another victory on Broner's unblemished record.
The drama began on Friday, when Broner tipped the scale at 133.5 pounds, three and a half pounds above the contracted 130-pound-division limit. That meant immediate forfeiture of his title belt, and the situation incited fury from Escobedo's team. That afternoon, overnight and through much of Saturday, they insisted the weight difference was too great and that they would bolt. Not until a few hours before HBO's Boxing After Dark was scheduled to air was an agreement finally reached and the fight officially given the go-ahead by both sides.
When the bout began, the size difference was soon apparent: Broner solid and muscular, Escobedo relatively wiry. Evident too, however, was a gulf in skill and class. Escobedo, a credible contender, was simply no match for Broner's speed or his repertoire of moves.
After a relatively quiet opening frame, Broner began to target Escobedo's body in the second round. A brief flurry was mostly blocked but prompted Broner's hometown Cincinnati crowd to erupt in roars. In the third, Broner maintained his body attack then switched to uppercuts that thudded off his opponent's jaw.
In the fourth, Escobedo appeared to be showing the first signs of wilting, and when he returned to his corner, he was bleeding from his nose.
Broner, constantly changing his attack, opened up the fifth by landing a succession of blistering overhand rights behind a short left jab. He backed Escobedo into a corner and dug to his body. A left hook knocked Escobedo backward and the end was now clearly in sight. Broner erupted, unleashing his full arsenal in search of a stoppage, which came when trainer Joel Diaz had seen enough and stepped onto the ring apron to wave the towel.
"I had to keep to my decision to fight," said Escobedo. "He definitely felt stronger. I felt his power. He's fast, and hard to hit. I was trying to work the body, but he was too quick. I did my job; I came here on weight like a professional and he didn't. That's the past, and he was the better man tonight."
"I grew out of my weight class," said Broner, who had previously announced his intention to move up in weight. "I'm young and still growing. I'm going up now to lightweight, and we'll take on anyone. Vicente is a world-class fighter; I can't take anything away from him. But he never hit me with anything significant. I make everything look easy. I go in there and do what Adrien Broner does: I win."