The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of September 1
The end-of-summer malaise in the sport of boxing is drawing toward its conclusion, as we finally have a few fights of significance to talk about in the coming week.
Adrien "The Problem" Broner is headed home to Cincinnati to face a slick boxer in the main event of a Showtime card on Saturday night. Will it be a homecoming or a disaster for the former world champion?
Lucas "The Machine" Matthysse is back on the hunt. Will he be heading into another war?
Can Andre Berto make one last run at boxing glory, or is the former welterweight champion done?
Finally, we jump across the pond and take a look at Carl Frampton's first challenge for a world championship.
There's all that and more in this week's late-summer edition of the hottest storylines in boxing.
Will It Be a Homecoming Party for The Problem in Cincinnati?
Broner is a three-time world champion in as many weight classes, so if you think he doesn’t have some talent, you’re deluding yourself.
The question is: How much talent does he have? And how willing are fans to put up with his off-putting antics in order to find out?
The Problem will return to the friendly confines of US Bank Arena in his hometown of Cincinnati, taking on slick boxer Emmanuel Taylor in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast.
It’s not exactly fair to call this a make-or-break fight for Broner, but it’s pretty close. And much of that has to do with his out-of-ring and even in-ring antics.
Broner has done himself no favors and has earned no good will with his brash, over-the-top ways. He’s modeled his career after his idol Floyd Mayweather, but the pound-for-pound king is a master of creating the right kind of controversy.
The kind that sells.
People jumped off the Broner bandwagon in droves after his defeat against Marcos Maidana, and his uninspiring shutout of the light-hitting Carlos Molina didn’t do much to move the needle back in the other direction.
Taylor is a much more dangerous opponent than Molina. His style is Broner-esque in certain ways, and he’s a decent boxer with good movement and defense.
The Problem would have a big problem and would make a huge mistake by overlooking or underestimating this fight. He needs to realize that the margin for error is very small, or else his homecoming could turn into a disaster.
Is The Machine Heading to War?
Matthysse, known as “The Machine,” will fight in the co-feature of Broner’s homecoming on Saturday night, taking on dangerous Mexican puncher Roberto Ortiz.
This has the look of a fight where a blink could be enough to miss the brutal ending, so you’ll need to have your popcorn and beverages in hand before it starts.
The Argentine rebounded from a loss to Danny Garcia with an absolutely brutal victory over John Molina in April, getting his career back on the right path.
Matthysse was surprisingly dropped twice in the fight by the hard-nosed Molina, who finally wilted to his power and pressure and an awful gash on his head in Round 11 of a vicious war.
It was the type of fight fans love to watch, but the level of brutality was at times difficult to stomach, particularly for Molina, who swallowed the majority of the punishment and lost a lot of blood as the fight wore on.
That affair behind him, Matthysse faces another dangerous puncher in Ortiz, a relative unknown in the United States.
If you’ve ever seen him fight, however, you’ll know that his punching power is legit and that he comes to fight. He might go down, but he's going to fight as hard as he can.
Whether or not he has the whiskers to handle what Matthysse will fire back at him remains to be seen. But it should be a fun shootout while it lasts.
Does Andre Berto Have Another Run in Him?
Berto hasn’t won a fight in just about three years and is in desperate need of getting back into the win column on Saturday night on the Broner vs. Taylor undercard.
The 30-year-old has lost three of his last four fights—the last win coming over Jan Zaveck for the IBF Welterweight Championship in September 2011—and another loss would all but signal the end of his once-promising career.
His fall from grace has been precipitous. It began with the loss of his welterweight title to Victor Ortiz in 2011 in a vicious war that saw both men taste the mat twice, then cascaded with defeats by Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass.
The loss to Soto Karass, a rugged, tough but journeyman-like fighter, was brutal. Berto seemed on his way to a victory, planting Soto Karass on the mat in Round 11 only to be stopped himself the following round.
It was his first knockout loss, and it came at a heavy price. An injury to his shoulder, sustained in the fight, needed to be surgically repaired, costing him even more time out of the ring.
Berto will make what likely amounts to his last stand against Steve Upsher Chambers, a light-hitting foe from Pittsburgh.
Chambers has a solid professional record of 24-3-1 with six wins coming inside the distance, but he hasn’t beaten anything resembling a quality opponent and comes in as the loser of his last two fights.
Those losses, to Golden Boy Promotions prospect Eddie Gomez and former welterweight champion Luis Collazo, came as he stepped up his level of opposition. That does not bode well for him as long as Berto still has some gas left in the tank.
Can Carl Frampton Take the Next Step?
Broner won’t be the only fighter making a homecoming on Saturday night.
Northern Ireland’s Frampton, nicknamed “The Jackal,” will face Kiko Martinez in a super-bantamweight rematch in Belfast, but the stakes will be much higher this time around.
Martinez, who was stopped in Round 9 of a contest with Frampton in early 2013, has since rebounded nicely. He won a share of the 122-pound title with an upset knockout of previously unbeaten Jonatan Romero last summer and followed up with a pair of defenses over former world champions.
Frampton remains undefeated and one of the fastest-rising stars in the U.K., and a win would certainly catapult him further up those lofty rankings. As chance would have it, his convincing win over Martinez helped silence many of his doubters and put him in position for this opportunity.
A couple of things have changed since the first fight.
Martinez is riding a wave of momentum, having won three straight fights over current or former world champions. So in that sense, momentum might be heading in his direction.
But it's hard to see what the Spaniard can do differently this time that would significantly alter the course of the fight. He only knows one style, "come forward and slug," and Frampton picked him apart and ran him into shots all night last time.
Given the overall talent gap and how likely it is that much won't change, Frampton seems a good bet to walk out of Belfast a world champion.
How Much Time Does Wlad Have Left?
Wladimir Klitschko, the holder of a plethora of shiny belts that declare him the best heavyweight in the world, pulled out of a scheduled defense against Kubrat Pulev earlier last week, citing an injury to his bicep.
The fight has been rescheduled for November 15 at the O2 World arena in Hamburg, Germany.
The 38-year-old has dominated the division for years, holding at least a share of the crown since beating Chris Byrd in 2006 and making 16 successful defenses in a row.
Some feel that the younger of the two Klitschko brothers might have an outside shot at eclipsing the heavyweight title defense record held by Joe Louis—25—given the overall weakness of the heavyweight crop, but injuries could derail this quest.
No less than Bleacher Report's eminent boxing scribe Kelsey McCarson recently opined that Klitschko’s reign could run into the perfect storm of advancing age, injuries and pressure to call it a career.
You can certainly see his point, and it does raise a legitimate question about how much longer the Ukrainian giant will hang on—or, for that matter, how much longer he wants to hang on.
He’s made plenty of money, and regardless of his competition, the dominance of his reign over one of boxing’s glamour divisions is impressive.
With new challenges on the horizon, including Pulev, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, the question is whether or not he’ll remain around long enough to meet them.