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Adrien Broner to end two-year layoff against Jovanie Santiago on February 20

Fighters Network

Adrien Broner is penciled to face unbeaten Jovanie Santiago on February 20, a source confirmed to The Ring late Thursday afternoon.

Boxingscene’s Jake Donovan and Keith Idec were the first to break the news.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut and will headline a three-bout Showtime telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Broner (33-4-1, 24 knockouts) will be returning to the ring from a two-year hiatus. In his last bout in January 2019, Broner lost by unanimous decision to WBA welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao. Broner, a world titleholder in four different weight classes, is winless in his last three fights, including a one-sided decision loss to Mikey Garcia in July 2017 and a majority-decision draw against Jessie Vargas in April 2018.

The 31-year-old, who has been in the news for incidents outside the ring in recent months, has been training in South Florida, including sparring against unbeaten welterweight prospect Xander Zayas. Broner was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Broner was originally scheduled to fight Pedro Campa, but the once-beaten fringe junior welterweight contender from Mexico recently had to withdraw from the fight after testing positive for COVID-19.

The source told The Ring that two fighters are on standby if Santiago, for any reason, does not end up facing Broner on February 20. Juan Jose Velasco of Argentina has been mentioned as an opponent on standby while the name of the other fighter was not revealed.  

Despite Broner’s outcomes in recent fights, he will be a significant step-up in opposition against Santiago, who resides in Dorado, Puerto Rico.

Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) last fought on December 16, knocking out Juan Zegarra of Peru in the opening round of a clash between unbeaten fighters. In his previous fight in November 2019, Santiago knocked out Argentina’s Gustavo Vittori in round 9.

The 31-year-old has two notable victories thus far in his pro career, defeating former world titleholder DeMarcus Corley in April 2017 and Mexico’s Ivan Cano in March 2019. Both victories were by unanimous decision.

After fighting to a draw against Marco Padilla in December 2008, Santiago did not fight again for a five and a half years, returning to the ring in July 2014.

Preceding the Broner-Santiago fight will be a crossroads heavyweight fight between former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale and contender Otto Wallin.

Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Eastvale, has not fought since losing by knockout to then-WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder in May 2019. The loss snapped a streak of three consecutive victories, all by knockout, since losing to IBF titleholder Anthony Joshua in June 2016.

Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs) stopped fringe contender Travis Kauffman in round 5 of his last bout on August 15. The victory over Kauffman took place almost a year after Wallin, who is promoted by Dmitriy Salita and managed by Zachary Levin, lost a close decision to Ring Magazine heavyweight champion and WBC titleholder Tyson Fury. 

In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, former IBF lightweight titleholder Robert Easter, Jr. (22-1, 14 KOs) of Cincinnati, Ohio will square off against Ryan Martin (24-1, 14 KOs) of Chattanooga, Tennessee in a 10-round junior welterweight bout. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing