LAS VEGAS – Boxing returned to prime-time television for the first time in 30 years on Saturday night as part of NBC’s "Premier Boxing Champions" from Las Vegas. The co-main event of this historic night featured junior welterweight lightning rod Adrien Broner stepping in the ring against rugged veteran John Molina Jr.
Broner came into fight week saying that he would be a more reserved version of the “A.B.” fans have come to expect . He also promised to bring a “show” to the fans in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
He followed through on the first promise, but his unanimous decision victory (120-108, 120-108, 118-110) against Molina was far from a “show.”
“No disrespect to anyone here tonight, but I had to do what I had to do,” Broner said moments after dispatching Molina.
Entering to a chorus of boos and grinning from ear to ear, Broner walked to the ring without his usual mega-entourage and rapper lullabying him down the aisle.
In that sense, he made good on his pre-fight proclamation. (Meanwhile, all fighters on the first Al Haymon card entered the ring solo and to generic walkout music.)
Broner (30-1) peppered Molina (27-6) all night with a barrage of stiff jabs and counter punching. It marked the Cincinnati native’s third consecutive victory after a devastating loss to Marcos Maidana in 2013 that threatened to stall his rising career.
When Molina wasn’t throwing wild punches — and missing with regularity — he was engaged in the clinch. To make matters more frustrating for the California native, when he tied up with Broner, the talkative 25-year-old was jabbering his ear off.
“Every shot he missed, I was like, ‘Oh really, try that again,’” Broner said with a chuckle.
After suffering a snafu in his weight cut, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see Broner stay at 140 pounds and capitalize off the momentum Saturday’s exposure gave him. That way, he can continue to introduce himself to fans while not risking another roadblock like he suffered against Maidana at 147.
Judging by his performance on Saturday, Broner understands more and more what it takes to be a viable commodity in boxing.