Four-division champion Adrien Broner returned from a two-year hiatus to score his first victory since February 2017 with a testing points win over tough Puerto Rican Jovanie Santiago at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Saturday night.

Unanimous scorecards of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112 paid little credit to an enterprising and aggressive display from Santiago in this welterweight 12-rounder.

But ‘The Problem’ is back and, given his name and notoriety, is likely to gain a major fight at 140lbs or 147lbs later this year. After a slow start, he rallied to win the 7th to 10th rounds on all three judges cards to seal that all-important ‘W’.

Broner (left) endured a troubling night with Puerto Rican Santiago.
Photo: Amamda Westcott/Showtime.

“That was cool. 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,” said Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs & 1 NC). “I felt like I beat him with the jab, honestly. But it felt good to get my hand raised though.

“I knew he was going to be tough because he’s 14-0. 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.”

Santiago (14-1-1, 10 KOs) was deducted a point for a punch that landed after the bell in the fourth round and should probably feel aggrieved with the wide nature of the scorecards.

His aggression and stout body-punching caused Broner issues and, whilst punchstats should be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt, Compubox had the Puerto Rican landing over twice as many blows as Broner. CompuBox claimed Santiago landed 207-of-697 punches compared to 98-of-338 for Cincinnati’s Broner. 

“No, the decision doesn’t surprise me,” said Santiago afterwards. “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.”

After a two-year break, the divisive Broner is back.
Photo: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.

In the co-main event, Swedish heavyweight contender Otto Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs) illustrated his credentials in the division with a wide points verdict over two-time world title challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-3, 18 KOs). Scores were 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112.

In the opening bout, ex-IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (23-1-1, 14 KOs) scored a relatively comfortable decision victory over former WBSS participant Ryan Martin (24-2, 14 KOs) at 140lbs. Scores were 118-110 (twice) and 117-111.