Welterweights Adrien Broner and Adrian Granados, good pals outside of the ring, put that aside and tore into each other for 10 hard and exciting rounds Saturday night, but in the end it was Broner, in front of a hometown crowd, who prevailed by split decision in a dogfight at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati.
It was a hellacious back-and-forth battle for the entire fight with Broner overcoming an injured left hand in the first round to eke out the decision. He won 97-93 and 96-94 on two scorecards while Chicago's Granados got the nod 97-93 on one card.
Had judge Robert Pope not given Broner the 10th round, the fight would have ended in a draw.
"I knew that Adrian Granados was going to come tough," Broner said. "At the end of the day, I was beating him up. This was an easy one for me. I feel good.
"Inside this ring it's business. Granados is a great friend of mine. It's nothing personal."
Broner (33-2, 24 KOs), who has won world titles in four weight classes from junior lightweight to welterweight, was returning from a 10-month layoff after being stripped of his junior welterweight world title for failing to make weight for a defense against Ashley Theophane in April. He agreed to fight Granados at 142 pounds but a few weeks ago insisted the contract be changed to make the fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, leading to questions about his conditioning.
But both guys, who have been friends for years and sparred countless rounds together, seemed to be in good shape as they fought at a breakneck pace from the opening bell.
"Adrian Granados is a world-class fighter," Broner said. "A lot of guys duck him, but I wanted to fight him because that's what I'm about. I hurt my left hand in the first round. Since then I couldn't throw my jab as much. That's why I had to stay inside. I couldn't use my jab but I adjusted."
They set a fast pace from the outset and never let up. Granados, 27, suffered a cut on the bridge of his nose from an accidental head butt in the third round. Broner, also 27, landed some heavy uppercuts and Granados connected with many fast right hands in a fight that had the crowd of 6,085 cheering throughout.
They spent most of the sixth round trading toe to toe in one of the many hard rounds to score. They both had big moments but by the end of the ninth round Broner had a small cut over his right eye and looked exhausted when he plopped down on his stool. But he showed tremendous energy in the final round and might have nicked the round when he landed a powerful combination in the final few seconds of the bout.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Broner, who earned $1 million, landed 166 of 403 punches (41 percent) while Granados connected on 146 of 683 blows (21 percent).
Granados (18-5-2, 12 KOs), who made a career-high $250,000, has been a hard-luck fighter. All five of his losses have been by either split or majority decision. He'd like a rematch.
"I knew it wouldn't be a pretty fight, but I'm so thankful to my team," Granados said. "Broner knows there were lots of games played leading up to this. I just want to be treated fairly. I know I don't have a perfect record, but I can beat anybody. Let's do it again. He fought smart and did his thing. If he thinks he did it this time, let's do it again. I want it at my house (in Chicago)."
Peterson outpoints Avanesyan for belt
Former unified junior welterweight world titleholder Lamont Peterson, in his first fight as a full-fledged 147-pound welterweight, looked very sharp as he ended a 16-month layoff -- the longest of his 12-year professional career -- and outpointed David Avanesyan to claim a secondary title.
It was a highly competitive and entertaining fight, but Peterson got the better of the action virtually the entire way and was rewarded by the judges on scores of 116-112, 116-112 and a surprisingly close 115-113.
Peterson said the layoff was no issue for him.
"I was expecting to pick up where I left off," he said. "Sixteen months may seem like a long time, but if you keep in the gym and you're still working on your craft, it's not a long time. It gave me time to work on some things -- conditioning and technique. I took some steps forward tonight. I'm looking to get back in camp and keep moving."
Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), who cut Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) under the right eye in the second round and gave him a bloody nose in the 11th round, dished out a brutal body attack round after round as he walked Avanesyan down and methodically backed him up.
But there were plenty of fierce exchanges, such as in the sixth round when it was an all-out inside battle as they traded body punches with abandon. In the 10th round, Peterson backed Avanesyan into the ropes, which were very loose, and he fell between them and onto the ring apron and nearly out of the ring.
"I expected to put pressure on him the way I did," Peterson said. "I didn't think he would come back and fight at times as hard as he did. He showed up and showed why he's a champion and why he belongs on this level. I knew I had him from the start. He couldn't get past my jab and I knew I could execute my game plan."
Peterson, 33, of Washington, D.C., landed 228 of 743 punches (31 percent), according to CompuBox, and Avanesyan, 28, of Russia, connected on 182 of 756 (24 percent).
By claiming the secondary belt, Peterson, who earned $250,000 to Avanesyan's $75,000, put himself in position as the mandatory challenger for the winner of the highly anticipated unification fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, who meet on March 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
"Of course," Peterson said when asked if he wanted to fight the winner. "I want anyone in the welterweight division. I am totally comfortable at this weight."
Avanesyan, who was an interim titleholder, was elevated to a secondary titlist in late 2016 and was coming off his biggest victory, a decision win in defense of the interim belt last May against faded former world champion Shane Mosley.
"I thought it was a close fight and I thought that I was landing my punches more cleanly while his punches were being blocked," Avanesyan said. "Lamont is very good, but I thought the judges were impressed with his movement, but I had the power. I understand it would be hard to win a decision in the U.S. I'm upset I lost my title, but I will keep fighting and I'd love to fight Lamont again."
Browne knocks out Williams
Light heavyweight prospect Marcus Browne took a big step up in competition and passed the test with flying colors, knocking down former world-title challenger and fellow southpaw Thomas Williams Jr. three times en route to a dominant sixth-round knockout. Then he called out world champion Adonis Stevenson.
Browne (19-0, 14 KOs), 26, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Staten Island, New York, dropped Williams with a right jab midway through the second round but then hit him again as he was crouched with his glove on the mat, a shot that knocked Williams all the way down to the mat. Referee Ken Miliner counted to 10 but then penalized Browne one point for punching Williams while he was down and gave Williams five minutes to recover because of the foul.
Williams, who suffered a broken jaw and went to the hospital after the fight, took nearly all of his allotted time but never got into the fight. Browne immediately hurt him again as soon as the right resumed.
"It didn't look like he went down, so I made sure he went down," Browne said. "He was trying to stand up so I pushed him down a little bit more. I didn't see his glove on the floor. I won't do that to you, Adonis Stevenson, just give me my chance."
In the fourth round, Browne dropped Williams with a counter right hook and he barely beat the count. While Williams constantly complained about this or that to Miliner, Browne was punching him. In the sixth round, another right hook from Browne dropped Williams to his rear end. Williams (20-3, 14 KOs) made no effort to get to his feet and Miliner counted him out at 42 seconds.
Williams, 29, of Fort Washington, Maryland, lost his second fight in a row by knockout. He was coming off a fourth-round knockout loss challenging Stevenson in July.
Browne, who earned $60,000 to Williams' $35,000, said he felt he was close to being ready to fight Stevenson if he will give him the shot.
"We were not 100 percent, but we were 85 percent and we'll gain the rest by the next performance," Browne said. "I want Adonis Stevenson and I want that strap. That went mostly to plan. I wasn't looking forward to the Adonis Stevenson fight so I wasn't trying to knock him out, but the opportunity came. I'm ready for Adonis."
According to CompuBox, Browne, who was ahead 49-43 on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout, landed 71 of 249 shots (29 percent) and Williams landed just 32 of 162 blows (20 percent).