- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Adrien "The Problem" Broner, self-described as "fresh, fly and flashy," likes to say that "anyone 'can' get it" -- meaning a beating from him. And then he gives the punch line: Ameri-cans, Afri-cans, Domini-cans, Mexi-cans.
"Anybody can, because it really don't matter," said Broner, whose confidence is supreme, and it's easy to understand why.
At 22, Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) is barely scratching the surface of his abilities. He has skills, speed and power, not to mention a big personality and a gift for throwing out a funny line.
"I've been in shape since 1989," he said. "When I was born and the doctor smacked me, I smacked him back."
Many believe Broner will be around for years to come fighting in major pay-per-view bouts and sitting at or near the top of the pound-for-pound list.
But before Broner, who has drawn comparisons to Floyd Mayweather Jr., gets too far ahead of himself, there is still business to attend to against fellow Golden Boy-promoted contender Vicente Escobedo (26-3, 15 KOs) of Woodland, Calif. They square off Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at U.S. Bank Arena in Broner's hometown of Cincinnati. Broner was stripped of his junior lightweight title Friday after not making weight.
"I don't know him and I don't want to know him," Broner said. "I'm in the hurt business and I'm gonna handle Escobedo."
Said Escobedo, "I'm going to take full advantage of this opportunity. I'm hungry and I've been hungry. People say that he has talent, power and speed. I've got talent. I've got speed and I've got power, too. I'm gonna shock the world. I guarantee it."
In a scheduled 10-round welterweight co-feature, 23-year-old Clearwater, Fla., welterweight prospect Keith Thurman (17-0, 16 KOs) faces late substitute Orlando Lora (29-2-2, 19 KOs), 31, of Mexico. HBO is also slated to air highlights of the fight between junior welterweight prospect Omar Figueroa (18-0-1, 15 KOs), 22, of Weslaco, Texas, and Dominic Salcido (18-3, 9 KOs), 28, of Rialto, Calif., who has not fought since a decision loss in October 2010.
Broner is planning to look impressive against the 30-year-old Escobedo, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, in what Broner said will be his final fight at 130 pounds before moving up to the 135-pound lightweight division.
"This fight, I will make a statement," Broner said. "I know he says he's been in with bigger, stronger guys. But he still hasn't felt the punch from Adrien Broner yet. So Saturday night, I will make a statement with this fight and I will show why I am the champion. It don't matter if I knock him out or win by a tremendous unanimous decision. I know one thing: I'm going to look good."
Broner won a vacant belt with a one-sided third-round knockout of Vicente Martin Rodriguez in November and then made his first defense against top-10 contender Eloy Perez on Feb. 25, and blitzed him in four rounds of a fight even less competitive than the domination of Rodriguez.
But Broner said defense No. 2 will be it for him before leaving behind a weight class desolate of name opponents and other titleholders who are willing to fight in America.
"This will be my last fight at 130 pounds. I'm going out with a bang, for sure," Broner said. "They didn't just give me the title. I had to win it. I'm going to show why I kept it and I'm going to leave with the belt. Like I said, this is the last one and I'm putting on a good performance.
"I'm young. I'm 22. I'm still growing. I just feel like it's time for me to go up. After this fight, there really wouldn't be a reason for me to stay. I'm just going to go up and give the lightweights hell. ... Vicente is on my mind right now. It really don't matter after that. Anybody can get it."
If Broner is concerned with Escobedo, he sure didn't sound like it even though Escobedo is a bigger man and fought many fights in the lightweight division, facing the likes of Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis, albeit in decision losses. But Escobedo has won four fights in a row since returning to junior lightweight.
"I'm going to go against the No. 1-rated guy in the WBO and it's going to be a good fight," Broner said. "You know he's coming to fight. I know he's coming to win, but all my fights are going to be the same. I'm going to come in dancing, laughing and having fun with him. I'm going to come out on top.
"That's what I'm looking forward to and I just hope he trained hard. I'm pretty sure he did, going up against a guy like me. But I just want everybody to come down and support us. I know it's going to be a good crowd. This city loves boxing and I hope we both put on a good show."
As wild as Broner's ring walks can be and his sometimes over-the-top persona, Escobedo said it won't bother him at all while he is waiting in the ring for Broner.
"Adrien is Adrien. That's him. It's his personality. You got to respect that," Escobedo said. "You got to have fun with it. I have fun with him, but I have a certain time to do that. I come just to do my thing and that's just to fight. Adrien is going to do his thing and have fun and I'm going to have fun too in the ring, just in a different way."
Escobedo certainly has experience on his side. In addition to his Olympic pedigree, he also fought for an interim lightweight belt against Katsidis in 2009 and faced the world-class Guerrero. But this is Escobedo's first opportunity to fight for a major world title and said he was not at all unhappy to be in Broner's hometown for the bout.
In fact, he rather sounded like he was enjoying himself.
"I'm happy to be in Cincinnati," Escobedo said. "I've never been here before, but I'm liking the city and enjoying my time. He's a champion. Obviously, the ball is in his court. I felt this was a huge opportunity for me. He's the man everyone is talking about. He's the fighter the world is talking about. He's the one to beat. To me, I didn't have a problem whether it was in Cincinnati, whether it's L.A., Vegas, doesn't matter. All that matters, when you're in that ring, is what happens in that ring."
Escobedo is a significant underdog, but with what has gone on in boxing in recent weeks -- Josesito Lopez's upset knockout of Victor Ortiz on June 23 and Danny Garcia's upset knockout of Amir Khan on July 14 -- nobody should be counted out.
"Anything is possible," Escobedo said. "We're not looking at what happened in the last couple of weekends. I've been confident since this fight was been presented to me. I'm just going to go out there and do what I do. I'm not worried about what happened in the past. But anything is possible in boxing. All it takes is one shot, one good shot to the body or to the face, and then the fight can turn around. So you just never know."
Talented junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner is more-than confident about his abilities. Saturday's bout against mandatory challenger Vicente Escobedo is expected to be Broner's final fight contested at 130 pounds.