David Becker/Associated Press

Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2017

After a 2016 that had its controversies and only saw him fight once, Adrien Broner got the new year off to a good start boxing-wise with an entertaining 10-round, split-decision win over friend and former sparring partner Adrian Granados at the Cintas Center in his hometown of Cincinnati on Saturday night.

Bad Left Hook provided the scores: 

Broner, fighting at welterweight, needed a strong showing after his last fight, a win over Ashley Theophane, saw him stripped of his WBA light welterweight title for failing to make weight. He was supposed to take on Granados at a catchweight of 142 pounds, but the weight had to be moved up to 147 as Broner’s camp admitted “The Problem” was struggling to get down to weight. 

He was sharp Saturday, countering well and showing plenty of accuracy, but Granados had a far better work rate and got the upper hand on several exchanges. 

Granados, for all his efforts, was only to convince one judge of his prowess, and he felt his lackluster (on its surface) record allowed the rules of engagement to be changed, per USA Today’s Mike Coppinger: 

Broner, to his credit, showed contrition for his past behavior after the bout, per ESPN’s Brian Campbell: 

The fight began with a frenzy of activity and hardly let up from there. Granados danced around the ring, darting in and out of Broner’s range and using his length to his advantage. 

Broner’s hand speed was readily apparent, especially on counterpunches, but he looked a bit taken aback at Granados’ early aggression. Boxing journalist Daniel Attias appreciated Granados’ work in the second round:

A Broner elbow and a clash of heads opened up a cut on Granados’ nose in the third, as the former worked his way back into the fight.

Broner—who, despite fighting in his hometown, walked out to a mixture of boos and cheers—earned applause for a crushing flurry in the fourth, doing well to work his way back into the bout. 

Boxer Sergio Mora praised Broner’s ability to stand and deliver: 

The middle rounds were muddled and difficult to judge. Granados was the more visually kinetic fighter, bouncing around and throwing punches in bunches. Broner, in contrast, seemed content to bide his time and seize on key opportunities, countering when his Chicago-born opponent became too wild or pushing him off with a jab. 

Bad Left Hook had it even through six: 

The two fighters continued to create impressive, entertaining moments in the later rounds. Granados briefly turned Broner’s head into a speed bag with a flurry at the end of the seventh and brushed off a clean shot at his jaw with a disdainful shake of his head in the eighth. 

Broner’s work rate improved in the late rounds, and his accuracy was much better than that of his opponent. Trading in the center of the ring, Broner got the best of a few exchanges, slipping punches and snapping Granados’ head back with his counter-hooks. 

Broner’s power punching in the ninth round was excellent, as the Sho Stats bear out: 

The 10th and final round was perhaps the fight’s best, as the two traded punches with incredible fury. Campbell felt the fight would be tough to score: 

With five losses on his career now, Granados is going to find it difficult to work his way into a major fight again. However, after putting on a show against Broner, he should still find himself on more high-profile, primetime cards. He’s not as naturally talented as some other boxers, but he’s willing and able to put in the work. 

Broner’s natural talent shone through in this bout, but he was in danger of losing the bout and hardly looked like the elite fighter he often proclaims himself to be.

His ability to draw eyeballs will likely get him more high-profile chances, though he is going to make it tough on himself if he can’t slim down past welterweight, as the division’s ranks are full to the brim with hungry, talented boxers.

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