Barrios-Santiago, Pero-Faust added to undercard of Vargas-Foster

Undefeated two-division world champion Rey Vargas will battle top 130-pound contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Championship in a showdown that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, February 11 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas topping a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features former champion and all-action San Antonio-native Mario “El Azteca” Barrios, now trained by top trainer Bob Santos, returning to the ring in a 10-round welterweight duel against Jovanie Santiago that serves as the co-main event. Kicking off the action, hard-hitting unbeaten heavyweights go toe-to-toe as Cuba’s Lenier Pero takes on Ukraine’s Viktor Faust in a 10-round attraction.

“One of the best fighters representing Mexico in the sport today, Rey Vargas will look to continue to add to his resume in a tough fight against O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Title,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Vargas has continued to pass every test put in front of him, and he’ll hope to do so once again on Saturday, February 11 on SHOWTIME. San Antonio is one of the best fight towns in the country, and with their hometown star Mario Barrios in the co-main event, plus an explosive clash of unbeaten heavyweights as the telecast opener, there’s no doubt fight fans will want to be out in full force at the Alamodome.”

Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) is a former WBC 122-pound world champion and current WBC Featherweight World Champion who will compete in his third weight division since 2019 when he faces Foster for the vacant WBC crown. A master of distance with every punch in the book at his disposal, Vargas captured his 126-pound world title in his last bout with a decision victory over Mark Magsayo at the Alamodome on SHOWTIME last July. That marked his second outing at featherweight after the 32-year-old returned from a layoff due to injury to score a near shutout decision victory over Leonardo Baez in his featherweight debut in November 2021. The product of Otumba, Mexico went on the road to the United Kingdom to capture his super bantamweight title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell, before racking up five successful title defenses. He has fought in the United States seven-straight times since picking up the 122-pound title.

“The Alamodome is definitely a beautiful venue and a place where I have wonderful memories, and we’re coming back to do it again on February 11,” Vargas said. “I want to thrill the fans so Foster can come at me with whatever he has. Let’s give the fans what they want. I’ve fought all kinds of styles, so nothing really surprises me. I have a hunch that Foster is going to come forward and be aggressive. If he fights me tactically, then I’ll be ready for that too.”

Following an extensive amateur career, Foster (19-2, 11 KOs) turned pro in September 2012, winning his first eight bouts. The 29-year-old, who has fought four times on SHOBOX: The New Generation®, bounced back from decision losses in 2015 and 2016 to put together his current nine-fight winning streak. A native of Orange, Texas, who now trains in nearby Houston, Foster scored a 2018 victory over the previously unbeaten Jon Fernandez that set him on his path toward the top of the WBC super featherweight rankings. Foster solidified his spot with a knockout of veteran former title challenger Miguel Roman in November 2020 and followed that up with a 12-round unanimous decision over the previously undefeated Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov in March of last year.

“I appreciate Vargas for coming up and challenging me for the world title,” Foster said. “I’ve had to take a lot of ‘0’s’ lately and Vargas is going to be another one on the list. I’m looking to become the first world titlist to come out of my city so that I can make history for Orange, Texas and raise the bar for the next generation. I’m ready to show the world that I’m one of the top fighters.”

The 27-year-old Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) returns to the ring after challenging former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman in February 2022, dropping a decision in a hard-fought clash. The San Antonio-product, who now trains with Santos, a top coach, in Las Vegas, became a 140-pound world champion in September 2019, using his aggressive style to edge out Batyr Akhmedov and earn a unanimous decision. Barrios lost the super lightweight title in another action packed, highly competitive bout, as he was defeated by three-division and five-time world champion Gervonta Davis in June 2021.

“Everyone knows I come with everything I got when I step into the ring, and I’m excited to be back for this big opportunity on SHOWTIME,” said Barrios. “I’m even more motivated knowing that I get to fight back at home in San Antonio and give my people a great fight. Everyone is going to see pure boxing entertainment as I’ll be putting my skills on display with bad intentions. I’ve proven that I’m a warrior every time I get into the ring and I’m bringing that same energy for Santiago.”

Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and now residing in Dorado, Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) impressed in his U.S. debut in February 2021 despite losing a competitive decision against four-division champion Adrien Broner on SHOWTIME. The 31-year-old followed that up in May challenging top 140-pound contender Gary Antuanne Russell in a bout he lost by sixth-round stoppage. Prior to those fights, Santiago had won four of five contests by knockout, a streak that followed a 10-round decision triumph over DeMarcus Corley in 2017. Santiago’s only blemish before the Broner fight was a majority draw in just his third pro contest.

“This is going to be a very exciting fight,” said Santiago. “I’m ready to go in there and throw a lot of punches. Barrios and I are both looking to bounce back from losses and show that we’re elite fighters. That’s going to make this an action-packed fight and I know that I have everything it takes to leave with my hand raised. The fans in San Antonio can expect us to give it our all from start to finish.”

A 2016 Olympian from Camaguey, Cuba, Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) had an extensive and highly successful amateur career that spanned over 100 fights, including multiple victories over countryman Frank Sanchez and efforts against heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic and Olympic Gold Medalist Bakhodir Jalolov. The 30-year-old now fights out of Miami, Fla., and made a successful U.S. debut on New Year’s Day 2022, defeating then-unbeaten Geovany Bruzon. He’s added two more victories since then, most recently knocking out Joel Caudle in August.

“I’m really looking forward to making my SHOWTIME debut on February 11,” said Pero. “Ever since I started boxing, I’ve been working toward my goal of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight world champion. Faust is a good opponent, and this is by far the biggest fight of my career. A victory will skyrocket my career and put me in a great position. I’m going to seize this moment and bring home a victory for my people in Cuba.”

Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) returns to fight in the U.S. after his last stateside outing saw him engage in one of 2022’s most unpredictable and fast-paced slugfests. The 30-year-old squared off with Iago Kiladze in January 2022 with both men hitting the canvas an astonishing five times combined in less than five minutes of action before the Ukrainian closed out the action in round two to earn a TKO. Faust has followed that up with decision wins over veteran title challenger Kevin Johnson in August and Franklin Lawrence in December before he returns to fight in the U.S. for the third time.

“This is a great opportunity for me to show off my talents in the U.S.,” said Faust. “I’m especially happy to be back against a great opponent like Pero. He was a good amateur, and I know we’ll both be very confident heading into this fight. I’m going to win and show everyone that I’m ready to do everything possible to reach my goal and become world champion.”

Broner on win over Santiago: ‘I felt like I beat him with the jab, honestly’

Adrien Broner(34-4, 24 KOs) looked rusty at times on Saturday night, which is expected when you consider he has not fought in over two years, but fortunately for him, he was able to escape with a unanimous decision victory over Jovanie Santiago(14-1-1, 10 KOs) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn(Showtime).

Broner started slow and ended reasonably strong, but, according to ShoStats, he was out-landed(207-98) by Santiago. Despite that, all three judges saw the fight for Broner (116-111, 117-110, and 115-112).

While he was not impressive, and some believed he may have lost, including Showtime’s Steve Farhood, Broner got his first victory in over four years. According to the former four-division world champion, he did enough to get the win over Santiago.

“I want to go home and really look at my fight,” he said. “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, though.”

Broner, 31, who has had his share of legal issues over the years, hopes to be very active in 2021. According to him, being busy keeps him out of trouble.

“I want to say to Al Haymon and Stephen Espinoza: ‘Hey, keep me in the ring,'” Broner said. “If I was fighting on the regular, maybe buddy wouldn’t have lasted. But just keep me in the ring. Maybe we’ll stop fighting cases, and maybe we’ll stop getting in trouble.”

Even though the fight with Santiago was at 147 pounds, after it was supposed to be at 140, Broner expects to make noise and get belts at the junior welterweight division.

“There is a lot of work out there at 140,” he said. “Right now, we’re going to the drawing board with Al Haymon and 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.”

What’s next for Broner? He is a draw, and boxing fans flock to see him, so there are quality fights that can be made for him at 140, including fights against Regis Prograis and WBA regular champion Mario Barrios. However, it might be in Broner’s best interest to get another C-level fighter and then go after a more prominent name. 

A win is a win for Broner, but going forward, he will have to throw more punches and be more active in the ring if he wants to have success and get belts in 2021.

Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

Broner, Santiago make weight for fight on Saturday night

Adrien Broner(33-4-1, 24 KOs) will make his much-anticipated return on Saturday against Jovanie Santiago(14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn(SHOWTIME 9 p.m. ET).

The fight was initially supposed to be fought at 140 pounds, but the fighters agreed to fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.

On Friday at the weigh-in, Broner came in at 146 pounds, while Santiago was 145 ¼ pounds.

Former heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale and highly touted contender Otto Wallin will square off in the 12-round co-feature of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast and former world champion Robert Easter Jr. and contender Ryan Martin who will meet in a 12-round super lightweight bout to open the telecast.

Below are the official weights, judges and referees for Broner-Santiago, Breazeale-Wallin and Easter Jr.-Martin:

Welterweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Adrien Broner – 146 lbs.

Jovanie Santiago – 145 ¼ lbs.

Referee: Arthur Mercante; Judges: Tom Carusone (Conn.), Glenn Feldman (Conn.), Peter Hary (Conn.)

Heavyweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Dominic Breazeale – 261 ¼ lbs.

Otto Wallin – 240 ½ lbs.

Referee: Johnny Callas; Judges: Tony Paolillo (N.Y.), Waleska Roldan (N.Y.), Tom Schreck (N.Y.)

 Super Lightweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Robert Easter Jr. – 139 ¾ lbs.

Ryan Martin – 139 ½ lbs.

Referee: Harvey Dock; Judges: Tom Carusone (Conn.), Frank Lombardi (Conn.), John McKaie (N.Y.)

Photo: Amanda Westscott/Showtime

Broner: ‘I’m coming to sweep it all up; WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF’

Adrien Broner is back, and hopefully, for him, he’s better than ever. Broner(33-4-1, 24 KOs) will return on Saturday night against Jovanie Santiago(14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn(SHOWTIME 9 p.m. ET). The fight was initially supposed to be fought at 140 pounds, but the fighters agreed to fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.

 The last time we saw Broner was over two years ago when he lost to Manny Pacquiao. After a series of legal issues, Broner is finally back in the ring. Despite the setbacks, the 31-year-old Broner, a four-division world champion, expects to be at the top of the sport again.

“I feel like I’m going to be a world champion again, again, again and again,” Broner said at the final press conference on Thursday. “Until I’m really done with boxing. Yes, I took two years off from boxing, retired, and let my body heal and rest. I just feel like I’ve got what it takes to win more championships in different weight classes, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

According to Broner, he has stopped partying and drinking and has lost around 35 pounds during training camp for this fight. 

“I went through a lot of things, honestly,” he said. “One day, I just woke and said, ‘I’m done.’ In order to change, you’ve got to make change, or you’ll steady get caught up doing the same thing. I cut a lot of stuff, I stopped doing a lot of stuff, and I got myself together. It was a long road to get to where I’m at today, and now I’m here.”

Broner had a message for all the world champions out there.

“Listen, if you got a belt, just hold on to it,” he said. “I’m coming to sweep it all up; WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF. I’m coming to get them all.”

This is Broner’s last stand. The time is now for him to change things around. He owes people a lot of money right now, so it’s imperative that he wins on Saturday night, so he can be in  position to get a bigger fight, which means bigger money. 

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

 

Broner on making Hall of Fame: ‘I think I’ve done enough already’

Former four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner. previewed his showdown taking place 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 popular Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), who by the age of 26 had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, will end his two-year hiatus from boxing and continue his quest for a fifth world title by returning to face Jovanie Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round super lightweight bout.

Here is what Broner had to say about training camp, his matchup with Santiago, and more:

On his matchup with Jovanie Santiago…

“Santiago is hungry. He’s still undefeated and he definitely doesn’t want to lose. It’s going to be a great fight. He’s definitely going to come to fight. Anybody that has a chance to fight an Adrien Broner to put their career up another step, they’re going to bring their A-game. I’m just training my hardest and I’m going to come in and be ready on February 20.

“He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got great skills. But I just think I’m on a different level. February 20 people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon.

On his motivations for this fight…

“Even if I didn’t have these pending court cases against me, I’d still be working my ass off to come back and make a fortune. That has nothing to do with my motivation. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. The motivation is that I miss the sport. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion.

“I’ve found my love for boxing again. I gave myself some time to miss boxing and I’m ready to go in there and win some more world titles. My children are what fuel me now.

On how he plans to stay on track after this fight…

“I just need to go back to the gym after the fight. I’m trying to stay out of as much trouble as possible, stay out of jail and just work my ass off. I’m going to dedicate these last three to five years to straight boxing. I’m going to get as much as I can out of boxing and then retire and watch my kids grow up. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just time to get to business, make my money and do what I do best, and that’s box.

On getting back into fighting shape…

“I had to lose the 35 pounds and it was tough. I’ve put in the work. After this fight I’m going to stay on track and get right back to the gym. The goal is to become the five-time world champion, and then the sixth and the seventh time after that. I’m just working. I was so out of shape. I had to be gritty and I had to dig deep. Being out that long, I was overweight. I had to wake up and run miles and work my body back. It was tough.

“I’ve just had to change everything, change the lifestyle mostly. What would I tell a younger fighter? Just stay in the gym as much as possible. Don’t be blinded by the money and the lights and the girls and the partying life. I’m not saying don’t live your life. You can’t just box, box, box your whole life. You just have to stay relaxed.

On fighting at 140 pounds…

“I feel like 140 pounds is the weight that I want to be at. You can’t really say I made by bread and butter at 147. I’ve been a champion at 147 pounds but I’ve also been a champion at 140, 135 and 130 pounds. I think any fight at whatever weight Adrien Broner is at is a big fight. That’s the main thing. I want to fight where I feel the most comfortable right now in my career, and right now, I think 140 is the best for me.

On his legacy as a boxer…

“My career speaks for itself, honestly. A four-weight class world champion. I was one of the youngest to ever do it. And I’m going to be a five-time world champion soon. I’m just going to keep putting in the work and I’m going to stay focused.

“People forget that I’m only 31 years old. They sometimes look at me like an old head. It’s crazy. I have been around for a long time – about 11 years now. But I’m only 31 and I have a lot more in the tank. With my resume, I just feel like I have a lot more to do. I’m going to put the work in and I’m going to get it done. Of course, I think about the Hall of Fame. I think I’ve done enough already. I was one of the youngest to ever become a four-time world champion in four weight classes. But I’m going to go win some more titles and do what I do to seal the deal.”

Photo: Jose Pineiro/SHOWTIME