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Adrien Broner outpoints Jovanie Santiago in unconvincing effort

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Adrien Broner escaped with a controversial victory but he certainly didn’t look like a fighter who could replicate his early success.

Broner got off to a slow start against Jovanie Santiago but rallied in the second half of the fight to win a unanimous decision in a 12-round welterweight fight Saturday at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., his first outing in more than two years.

Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs) got the decision even though he didn’t outland the obscure Santiago (14-1-1, 10 KOs) in any round and connected on more than twice as many punches overall, according to CompuBox.

“That was cool,” said Broner, who had his hand raised for the first time since 2017. “I want to go home and really look at my fight. I haven’t fought in two years. But I felt good, I felt like I won the fight. I felt like I beat him with the jab, honestly.

“But it felt good to get my hand raised.”

Broner did have success with his jab but one could argue that he didn’t throw enough power shots to control the fight, particularly in the first six or seven rounds.

Through Round 7, Broner landed a total of 44 punches. That’s 6.3 per round. Santiago connected on 98 over the same stretch.

The former four-division titleholder began to find his grove in the seventh round, picked up his pace and had an effective series of rounds. Two judges gave Broner Rounds 7-11 while the third gave him Rounds 7-10. (Boxing Junkie had Broner winning Round 8-11.)

All three judges gave the final round to Santiago, who outlanded Broner 207-98 overall.

The fight seemed to be close given Santiago’s early dominance and Broner’s rally. However, the judges didn’t see it that way. Peter Hary had it 117-110, nine rounds to three in favor Broner. Tom Carusone and Glen Feldman had it 116-111 and 115-112, respectively.

Boxing Junkie scored it 114-113 – seven rounds to five – for Santiago, who lost a point in the fourth round for punching after the bell.

Santiago evidently doesn’t believe a victory was stolen from him.

“No, the decision doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “Broner did a nice job in there. The decision could have gone both ways. He fought a great fight. We were in it to win this fight, and he got the decision.

“I think boxing fans know who I am now, but in this fight I should have applied more pressure, and the fight would have gone my way.”

Broner, who reportedly lost 35 pounds, and Santiago had been set to fight at 140 pounds but agreed to adjust the limit to 147 in the 11th hour. Broner said he plans to fight at 140 going forward.

Three of his four losses have come at 147, including a wide decision against Manny Pacquiao in January 2019.

“I knew he was going to be tough because he’s 14-0,” Broner said of his Puerto Rican opponent. “And anybody with that ‘0’ wants to keep that ‘0’ so they’re going to fight like a bum fighting for a sandwich. I came in, and I got the job done.

“There is a lot of work out there at 140. Right now we’re going to the drawing board with Al Haymon to see what’s best for me. But I’m definitely going back to the gym and I’m looking forward to getting one of those titles this year at 140.”

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