Welterweights Adrien Broner and Adrian Granados, pals and sparring partners, will share the ring for a real fight when they meet in a 10-round bout that will headline a Showtime tripleheader on Saturday (9 p.m. ET) at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University in Broner’s hometown of Cincinnati.
They also share the heartbreak of the death of their mutual friend, Ed Brown (20-0, 16 KOs), the 25-year-old fast-rising welterweight prospect who died Dec. 4, one day after being shot multiple times by a drive-by shooter in one of the many senseless acts of violence that has taken the lives of so many young people in Chicago. The murder remains unsolved.
Broner (32-2, 24 KOs), a former four-division world titleholder, knew Brown for several years. Granados (18-4-2, 12 KOs) and Brown were close friends. Both Broner and Granados were saddened by Brown's death and even bonded to a degree over it.
“Ed Brown was a hell of a guy, a special type of talent,” Broner said. “I knew him since the amateurs. He was actually a close friend to me, but at the end of the day like I told Adrian in camp, there's just some people you can't save.”
Brown had been shot previously and survived. That was when Broner, 27, was training for his fight with Marcos Maidana in 2013 and Granados, also 27, was one of his main sparring partners. Broner recalled how tough it was on them when they heard Brown had been shot that time.
“You can't save everybody and it was a heartbreaking situation for Adrian, but I was there,” Broner said. “I was a shoulder to lean on and I was there. He got through it, and I tried to make his days better.”
"He was just a great kid. He was always smiling, always positive vibes from him and, you know, it was a terrible loss for boxing."Adrian Granados
Granados said he appreciated Broner’s friendship during the difficult times after Brown’s passing.
“He was there for me just like I was there for him, when he was having his scare on the social media that everybody was worried about him,” Granados said.
He was talking about reaching out to Broner during the time last year when he was going through a difficult period and appeared to be contemplating suicide in a series of social media posts.
“I guess he reached out to his people and told them I was there for him and I know he was there for me too during my tragic loss of my good friend Ed Brown,” Granados said. “At the end of the day, we're both men and we're both human, so when things like what happened to both of us in the past few months, you kind of put the business and the boxing out the window and you worry about the person, so, yes, I appreciate him for that.
“Just knowing that he was there, that was it. I mean, I had to get through that myself. I didn't need anybody to tell me anything. Ed Brown, that was my best friend in boxing. That was my little brother in boxing. I knew him the most out of anybody in the boxing world just because we spent the last 12 years pretty much side by side here in Chicago. We were pretty much always with him in the juniors and then once he got older, he was right under me at 132 (pounds) and I was representing at 141 (in the amateurs), so like I said, we were brothers of the ring and we spent countless days here at the gym. I used to pick him up, I used to drop him off.”
"Ed Brown was a hell of a guy, a special type of talent. I knew him since the amateurs. He was actually a close friend to me"Adrien Broner
Granados has managed to navigate the difficulties of Chicago’s streets and tried to get Brown to follow his lead but was unable to.
“I used to always tell him to stay out of trouble and, like Adrien said, there's some people that you can't save, but that doesn't change that I lost a good friend and a good man,” Granados said. “He was just a great kid. He was always smiling, always positive vibes from him and, you know, it was a terrible loss for boxing.”
Granados, who said he is dedicating Saturday’s fight to Brown, said they were inseparable.
“That was my guy, we were always at the same shows together,” Granados said. “If you seen me and I seen him, there was always a smile. So you know it's different here at the gym that we train at because he was the heart of this place and I feel like now I have this huge burden because everybody who sees me now thinks of Ed, and they're like, ‘Oh man, Ed always spoke so highly about you,’ and I feel like I have to be twice as great for both of us now.
“Ed Brown was the heart of this neighborhood, and now I need to carry on his legacy. This is my opportunity to do something for my career, but also this community. I have to be twice as great, for me and him.”