This past weekend Adrien Broner, Lucas Mathysse, and, to a lesser extent, Andre Berto fought as they always have, professing beforehand to have remedied flaws in their technique, but showing their true colors during their respective fights. The night’s headliner, Broner, started even more slowly than usual, taking several hard shots and further distancing himself from the Mayweather school of boxing in the first two or three rounds. As the fight went on, Broner’s opponent, Emmanuel Taylor, all but abandoned his very effective upright boxing style, and began leaning in to the exchanges, affording Broner the opportunity to use his speed and combinations to win rounds. Scoring what I would call a lucky knockdown in the last round, Broner sealed his victory, though the 115-112, and 116-111 scorecards betray his mistakes. Taylor turned out to be a formidable opponent who came to fight, and was somewhat comprehensively defeated, but that doesn’t change the fact that the biggest name on Broner’s resume is still Marcos Maidana, and Maidana wiped the floor with him and his slick boxing style. The second biggest name on that list would probably be Paulie Malignaggi, and even though he lost to Broner, the fight was very competitive. Maybe even more so than the fight with Taylor. Broner now asserts that he wants a fight with another winner on that night’s card, Lucas Mathysse. While Broner has gotten a lot of attention for his idolatry of Floyd Mayweather and his flashy style, I’d argue that Mathysse is the more marketable and more impressive talent.
Mathysse won his fight in dramatic fashion, if you can call it that. He scored a first-round knockout, but only because the referee stopped the fight at the count of 9 after a body shot put Roberto Ortiz down to a knee. Not only did this fight fail to show us anything about undefeated prospect Roberto Ortiz, it also told us nothing about Mathysse’s recovery from his first loss, and his future in the division.
Berto’s fight ended up being equally uninformative, showing us that he can still be hit easily but that his endurance and heart are comparable to that of the highest-level fighters. He kept the fight interesting by staying active and opening up his defense consistently. He attributed some of his mistakes to ring rust, but also commented that he was surprised how quickly and fully his boxing technique came back, which is really a red flag for such a performance. There were times that Berto, rather than cover up after a shot, would actually open his guard as if to regain balance by spreading his arms. This is not an isolated lapse for Berto, he’s exhibited signs of the bad habit for years, sacrificing defense for offensive pressure, whether effective or not. These fights didn’t leave us with more questions than answers, it just left us with one: why were these fights made? If they were meant to pad the resumes of recovering fighters, then certainly it wasn’t necessary to give Mathysse a pass, and it was an odd choice to have Berto and Broner approach their next conflicts with the same game plan that caused them to lose in previous efforts. Both were hit cleanly by mid-level fighters, and if they get the higher-level opponents they claim to want for their next outings, the results won’t be so favorable.