When he stopped Russian contender Khabib Allakhverdiev in the 12th round in October, Adrien Broner won a 140-pound world title and became a four-division world champion. But as happy as he was with that achievement, he was equally happy that he took care of business before the final bell.
Not only did Broner become the first guy to stop the tough Allakhverdiev, but in doing so, he ended a 32-month knockout drought.
“My last fight, I was getting back into the groove, and I finally stopped [an opponent] again,” said Broner, a 26-year-old native of inner-city Cincinnati. “Coming up in my career, that’s what I used to do all the time, so it felt great just to get that feeling again.”
When Adrien Broner (31-2, 23 KOs) made the leap from 135 pounds to 147 in 2013, he took with him an impressive streak in which he had stopped 16 of his previous 17 opponents, including six in a row. After that, however, Broner’s next six bouts went the distance, starting with a 147-pound title fight against Paulie Malignaggi in June 2013, which Broner won by split decision.
Now that he’s settled into a more natural weight class for a fighter his size, the 5-foot-7 Broner believes he’s about to embark on another knockout streak. Allakhverdiev was the first to fall, and Broner is confident 35-year-old Ashley Theophane (39-6-1, 11 KOs) will be next, as the two square off April 1 in a 12-round battle for Broner’s 140-pound crown at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
“This training camp, I’ve really been perfecting my craft. This is going to be the best performance of my career. It’s going to be a highlight-reel performance,” Broner says. “I’m not coming to just get a win. This fight isn’t going four rounds. That’s too many. This is going to be quick.”
Naturally, Theophane—who has lost six times but has never been stopped—takes exception to Broner’s prediction. So, too, does Theophane’s promoter, a man who knows a little something about competing in championship fights.
“Ashley’s not going to lay down, and he’s not going to quit,” says five-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has been focusing on his Mayweather Promotions company since announcing his retirement from the ring in September. “Do I think the fight’s going to only last four rounds? Absolutely not. Ashley’s been in with big punchers before.”
True enough, Theophane lost a split decision to eventual 140-pound champion Danny Garcia in February 2010. That ended a three-fight knockout streak for Garcia, who came in at 15-0 with 10 KOs. Theophane also stood tall against Pablo Cesar Cano, who was 27-3-1 with 20 KOs when he defeated Theophane by split decision in September 2013.
“You go and look at the Danny Garcia fight, some people say Ashley won that fight,” Mayweather says. “But this is an opportunity of a lifetime. When he fights Adrien, he’s going to go out there and be at his best.”
Mayweather’s involvement in this bout provides an interesting subplot, in that he served as Broner’s mentor for years but is now in Theophane’s corner. Broner, who often refers to Mayweather as “Big Bro,” says he’s not concerned about where Mayweather’s allegiances lie come April 1.
“I’m very fortunate to have someone like Floyd to look up to,” he says. “I don’t want to be like Floyd, though; I don’t want to be like any man. I admire him and respect him, but I’m creating my legacy.
“At the end of the day, Floyd and Ashley aren’t on my side. I’m against them. They’re coming to dethrone me. They’re my enemy right now, and I’m going to beat Ashley down. There’s nothing Floyd can teach [Theophane].”
Mayweather begs to differ, citing Broner’s first career loss in December 2013 to Marcos Maidana. In that fight, Maidana dropped "The Problem” in the second and eighth rounds, exposing flaws Mayweather believes Theophane can exploit (although the retired champ declined to be specific).
Echoing Mayweather’s sentiments is trainer Nate Jones. Back in June, Jones assisted Broner’s trainer, Mike Stafford, for Broner's match against Shawn Porter, whom Broner floored in the final round before dropping a unanimous decision.
This time around, though, Jones is working with Theophane, who brings a six-fight winning streak into his match with Broner.
“Adrien Broner’s not as fundamentally sound as I thought and makes a lot of mistakes, and we’re going to make him pay for those mistakes,” Jones says. “I know Ashley’s got what it takes to beat him.”
For complete coverage of Broner vs Theophane, check out our fight page.