Adrien Broner announced himself as the fighter to beat at 135 pounds when he trounced WBC titleholder Antonio DeMarco on Saturday, November 17, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. It was a breakout performance for the talented, undefeated fighter from Cincinnati - even though, as I have angrily written, this was nothing like Floyd Mayweather's win over Diego Corrales.
But I digress. Now that he's a titleholder and the top guy at Lightweight, who should he fight next? Here's a look at the top 5 opponents for Adrien Broner at this point in time.
1. Brandon Rios
Want a fight that's at least somewhat comparable to Mayweather vs. Corrales? This fits the bill.
Rios has recently moved up to Junior Welterweight, but I'd bet that Broner is on his way to that division in short order as well. There aren't any big names left at 135 pounds, and Broner is looking to pile up titles and earn big bucks. His stay at Lightweight will be short lived, and if he wants to make a splash at 140 pounds like he did at 135, then targeting somebody like the unbeaten Rios is the way to do it.
2. Winner of Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah
It looks like Danny Garcia will defend his WBA and WBC Junior Welterweight titles against Zab Judah in early 2013 . The young champion will be the favorite to win the bout, but Judah, on his home turf, should provide a legit challenge.
If Garcia emerges victorious, Broner vs. Garcia would be a juicy fight between two of the top, young and unbeaten American fighters in the game. If Judah wins, the Broner-Judah press conferences, ring walks and other festivities would have enough entertainment value all on their own to warrant making the bout as quickly as possible.
3. Lucas Matthysse
Another top fighter at Junior Welterweight, Lucas Matthysse has the kind of game-changing power and limitless aggression that ensures no fight is ever completely out of reach. Therefore, he's a perfect foil for the skill, speed and flash of Broner. Matthysse has been beaten twice, although both of those verdicts were disputed losses that came in his opponent's backyard - a decision to Zab Judah in Newark, NJ, and a decision to Devon Alexander near St. Louis.
4. Winner of Miguel Vazquez vs. Mercito Gesta
This is the first potential fight on this list that includes an opponent at 135 pounds. To be completely honest, the entire top 5 could consist of fighters at Junior Welterweight, but considering Broner is likely to stick around Lightweight for at least a few fights, we may as well discuss the top choices for him in his current division.
Vazquez has been the IBF Lightweight titleholder for several years, and he's slated to defend that strap against the unbeaten Gesta on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4 event. The winner of the fight will either be a longtime, well-established champion, or a fellow unbeaten with plenty to prove. Either way, Vazquez or Gesta, it's a logical choice for Broner.
5. Ricky Burns
The Scottish sensation Ricky Burns, that's "Rickster" to you, has been on a roll since he made his debut at Lightweight last year. He's reeled off three quality wins in quick succession - Michael Katsidis, Paulus Moses and Kevin Mitchell, and holds the WBO title in the division.
If Broner dared, he could fill up an arena in the UK and meet Burns on his own turf. Even without taking that step though, Broner vs. Burns is an attractive match to make and would offer a compelling clash of styles, personalities and backgrounds.
Sources: Boxrec.com, Bad Left Hook, ProBoxing-Fans.com
Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.