By Lem Satterfield


Adrien Broner will make the first defense of his WBA junior welterweight title against Ashley Theophane at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C., on Premier Boxing Champions on Spike TV on April 1.

For Broner , who is from Cincinnati, Ohio,  fighting in Washington D.C. is like a homecoming. For the last few years he has been training in D.C. at the Head Bangers Gym of Barry Hunter, trainer of former 140-pound champion Lamont Peterson and his brother, lightweight contender Anthony Peterson.

"Adrien fighting in D.C. is so important to him and me just because we have so much love with the D.C. coaches and fighters for years," said Mike Stafford, Broner’s trainer.

"I introduced Adrien to D.C. when he was 17, and he stayed with [Hunter's assistant] Patrice Harris and Barry Hunter. They help mentor him so that's why it's so important for us to be fighting in D.C. We've been family for all of these years.”

Broner won the vacant WBA title with a 12th-round knockout of Russian contender Khabib Allakhverdiev last October. It was the first time that Allakhverdiev had been stopped in his career.

Since falling by split-decision to Pablo Cesar Cano in September 2013, Theophane, 35, has won six straight. He defeated Steve Upsher Chambers by unanimous decision last September.

 “Theophane’s not that special, and Adrien will dominate Theophane,” said Stafford. “Whether it’s by a stoppage or a straight knockout, Theophane will get dominated.”  

Broner, 27, seems to have been on an elevator since leaving the lightweight division to jump two weight classes to beat Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA welterweight title in 2013. He lost to Marcos Maidana, won three straight, including a victory over John Molina in his PBC debut last March, then lost to Shawn Porter last June.

“I wouldn’t say that it was an up-and-down year,’’ Stafford said. “Molina tried to be a knockout artist, but when he felt Adrien’s power, it changed the whole fight and we made him look like an amateur. And we ended the Porter fight on a good note. If we had a few more seconds with Porter, we would probably be talking about a knockout. Porter’s a big guy, and Adrien was probably just a little too small for Porter. But after that sub-par performance, we got back to business.’’

“Adrien went down to another weight class and won a fourth championship. Look, we never overlook anyone, and we never turn anyone down. Even Marcos Maidana, who was a middleweight fighting a welterweight, and we damn near pulled it out. If we’d have made the adjustments, we would have knocked him out, because when Adrien is Adrien Broner at his best, there is no one on the planet that can beat him. That’s just a fact. We’re ready to fight anybody, and at his best, no one can beat Adrien Broner.”



In honor of Black History month, Premiere Boxing Champions polled some of its boxers concerning their influences within the sport. Here are a few reflections:

Steve Cunningham is returning to the cruiserweight division after four years to take on WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki at Barclays Center on NBC prime time on April 1t. He went back over 100 years to draw on his inspiration:

“Jack Johnson fought during a racially troubled time and still did his thing as a Black man.  Johnson beat all kinds of odds against a system that was dead set against his succeeding.

 “Johnson became the first African American heavyweight champion, and his documentary is a constant inspiration to me, given that I was always traveling around the world and fighting in hostile environments where the crowds were always against me. He inspired me to muster the courage to nonetheless do my job.’’

Charles Martin, newly crowned IBF heavyweight champion, will defend his title against Anthony Joshua in London on April 9. His inspiration comes from the GOAT in boxing:

“Muhammad Ali inspired me, of course, because he was for the people just an awesome guy inside and outside of the ring. Ali really stood for something huge and wouldn't fall for anything.’’

Julian Williams, junior middleweight contender from Philadelphia, joins Martin in his admiration and inspiration for Ali. Williams takes on Marcello Matano of Italy at the Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Showtime on March 5.

“Muhammad Ali is an inspiration to me not just as a boxer but as a black person first-off. As a fighter, Ali was so confident and great and always challenged himself against the best competition.

“But he's also a great man for what he stood for outside the ring. He was one of many huge voices for blacks as a spokesman against racism and in favor of inequality for black people. He jeopardized his own career in the process. Watching old film on Ali to this day makes me want to chase greatness inside and outside the ring.’’

Julius Jackson, super middleweight contender, looks closer to home for his inspiration.

“It’s my Dad, Julian “The Hawk” Jackson.” He encouraged me to be a good, strategic fighter. As a coach, he's taught me all that I know: How to punch and use your body, boxing basics.

“Out of the ring, he's taught me about humility, the importance of being respectful, and that God has to be put first in all things. That has made me into the man and boxer that I am today. My comeback will be awesome, just as his was following his first loss.’’

Jamal James, welterweight contender from Minneapolis, draws inspiration from both Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali.

“Johnson defied the odds at a time and in a place where it was extremely dangerous to be a black man. He was fearless in all aspects of the world even when his life was threatened he did what he wanted and said he would do.

“Johnson beat the top Caucasian fighters in front of the most hateful and racist audiences and did so with a smile on his face.

“Johnson drove the fast cars, owned nice suits and was said to have invented an adjustable wrench to help with fixing his cars. Rumor has it that white people renamed the tool monkey wrench to degrade him and his invention.

“Boxing can't be discussed without the mention of Ali, who is known, worldwide. He was confident, courageous, fearless, strong-willed, and stood up for his beliefs even when threatened by imprisonment. Ali promoted black pride, stood by his morals and did not hold his tongue against the social norms.

“I met Ali as a youngster when he came to my native Minnneapolis, MN, when I was younger for a book signing. I was honored to be able to talk with him, get a picture with him and playfully shadow box against him. I shook his hand and he touched my shoulder. I feel as though, during that moment, he passed along some of his greatness to me.’’



Lem Satterfield is a writer for Premier Boxing Champions. Re-use of any or all of this material must contain proper attribution that reflects that.