Former four-division world champion and must-see attraction Adrien “The Problem” Broner will end his two-year hiatus from boxing when he faces Jovanie Santiago in a 12-round super lightweight bout Saturday, February 20 live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast also pits former heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale against highly touted contender Otto Wallin in the 12-round co-feature. The telecast opener features former world champion Robert Easter Jr. facing off against contender Ryan Martin in a 12-round super lightweight bout. The event is promoted by TGB Promotions. Breazeale vs. Wallin is promoted in association with Salita Promotions.
“February 20 is going to be an exciting night with the return of Adrien Broner, one of boxing’s ‘must see’ attractions,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports & Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “A former world champion in four weight classes, Adrien remains one of the sport’s most popular and well-known athletes. In the co-main event, we are guaranteed action as former heavyweight title challengers Dominic Breazeale and Otto Wallin seek another chance to compete for a world championship. Plus Robert Easter continues his campaign at super lightweight as he takes on Ryan Martin, a true 140-pounder with a score to settle from the amateurs. This event is full of intrigue from top to bottom and we can’t wait to see how it will unfold.”
“There is no question that Adrien Broner is a bona fide boxing attraction and he’s never in a boring fight. His credentials as a four-division world champion are unquestioned. It’s good to see him back and ready to go,’’ said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Dominic Breazeale and Otto Wallin promises to be a heavyweight firefight and Robert Easter Jr. and Ryan Martin are both looking to establish themselves as formidable championship contenders in the super lightweight division. This is a strong PBC card from top to bottom for the fans who tune-in to SHOWTIME on February 20.’’
Cincinnati’s Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), is one of the most popular and colorful personalities in the sport. He quickly rose to prominence by combining supreme boxing with a brash outspoken personality. By the age of 26, he had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, becoming one of only eight active fighters to win a world championship in four divisions. Broner has faced several multi-division world champions such as Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Mikey Garcia, Jessie Vargas and Manny Pacquiao. Broner returns to the super lightweight division where he dominated Khabib Allakhverdiev to win a 140-pound title in 2015.
“I can’t wait to get back into the ring. It’s been a while. This will give me a chance to display my talents and show everybody what they’ve been missing,’’ Broner said. “I’ve been training and working very hard and everybody will see all of that hard work come together on February 20 on SHOWTIME.’’
Hailing from Dorado, Puerto Rico, the undefeated Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) will make his stateside debut against Broner just two months removed from a dominating first-round knockout victory over then-unbeaten Juan Zegarra in the Dominican Republic. In 2017, Santiago defeated former super lightweight world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley via unanimous decision, marking the only time he has allowed his opponent to go the distance since 2015. Known for his come-forward style, Santiago has campaigned at 140 pounds for the majority of his career and ascended to 14th in the WBA’s super lightweight rankings.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to step into the ring against Adrien Broner. I believe our styles are perfect for each other. But I feel like I have the skills that are necessary to beat him. I just fought a couple months ago so I feel good with the way my training has gone. I’m going to shock everyone on February 20.”
Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) has an impressive knockout ratio and numerous memorable knockout victories, including stoppages of Amir Mansour, Carlos Negron, and then-unbeaten Izuagbe Ugonoh. The 35-year-old has come up short in two heavyweight title opportunities against Deontay Wilder and current unified world champion Anthony Joshua. Born in Glendale, Calif., and now living in Eastvale, Calif., Breazeale was an outstanding high school football player who played quarterback at Northern Colorado University before taking up boxing. The 6-foot-7 heavyweight was also a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic® boxing team.
“Camp has been great. I’m working with my new trainer, Abel Sanchez, up in Big Bear,” Breazeale said. “Otto Wallin is going against a big guy who can punch and throws punches in bunches, so he’s going to be in trouble. I’m going to bring the pressure from the opening bell until the moment he hits the canvas.”
Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs) makes his second appearance on SHOWTIME within the Mohegan Sun “Fight Sphere” after defeating Travis Kauffman via fifth-round TKO in August. Before that, he nearly upset Tyson Fury in September 2019, when he opened up a gruesome cut over Fury’s right eye with a legal punch that almost halted the fight. While the 30-year-old lost to the lineal heavyweight world champion via unanimous decision, he proved his mettle as a potential heavyweight champion. Representing his native Sundsvall, Sweden, Wallin trains in New York with former champion Joey Gamache.
“Training has been going very well. I’m in a good place,” said Wallin. “Breazeale is a tough customer that’s always in firefights and is entertaining to watch. I believe it’s going to be a good fight. I’m pretty sure that he’s going to try and come out and go after me, so I don’t think I’ll have to look for him. I’m in great shape. I believe I’ll be able to break him down and take him out.”
A former IBF lightweight world champion, Easter (22-1-1, 14 KOs) won the vacant belt with a split decision victory over future world champion Richard Commey in 2016. The 30-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, successfully defended the title three times before losing it to four-division world champion Mikey Garcia in a 2018 unification clash on SHOWTIME. Following a split-draw against Rances Barthelemy in April 2019, Easter made his super lightweight debut on SHOWTIME in October 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over Adrian Granados.
“My last fight against Adrian Granados helped me get used to fighting at 140 pounds. The time away from the ring has helped me to get comfortable at the weight,’’ Easter said. “Martin has been active and he’s fought some good competition at 140 pounds, and I expect he’ll be at his best when we fight. But I’m going to be ready for anything that he brings to the ring on February 20.”
Martin (24-1, 14 KOs), who hails from Chattanooga, Tenn., has remained active during the COVID-19 pandemic with two stoppage victories since June 2020 including a first-round knockout over Hevinson Herrera in October. Similar to Easter, the 27-year-old has moved to the super lightweight division after many years at 135 pounds. Martin was handed the only loss of his career in 2018 to now-unified 140-pound world champion Josh Taylor. As an amateur, he lost a decision to Easter in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers and was denied an opportunity to represent the United States at the Summer Games in London as an alternate.
“I’m excited to be fighting on PBC on SHOWTIME,” said Martin. “It’s a great opportunity for me to redeem myself for a bad performance overseas against [Josh] Taylor. That experience is going to help. I’m coming to fight and to win.”
Veteran sportscaster Brian Custer hosts the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast while versatile combat sports voice Mauro Ranallo handles blow-by-blow action alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and three-division world champion Abner Mares. Two Hall of Famers round out the telecast team: boxing historian Steve Farhood as unofficial scorer and world-renowned ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. The executive producer is four-time Emmy award winner David Dinkins, Jr. The director is Bob Dunphy, son of legendary Hall of Famer Don Dunphy. Former junior middleweight world champion Raúl “El Diamante” Marquez and sportscaster Alejandro Luna serve as expert analysts in Spanish on Secondary Audio Programming (SAP).