Richard Schaefer, the Golden Boy Promotions CEO, needed to have a chat with Adrien Broner. For months, Schaefer had been receiving complaints about the unbeaten boxer's antics, from releasing sex tapes to vulgar rants on social media to a video of him flushing money down a toilet.
A news conference in San Antonio to announce Broner's welterweight title bout Saturday with Marcos Maidana had just ended, and an unhappy Schaefer felt the need to confront Broner about his behavior.
It was a similar talk to one Schaefer had with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on a plane in 2007. Mayweather was preparing to fight Oscar De La Hoya at the time and the group was on an international tour to promote the fight.
Mayweather's antics were designed to irritate De La Hoya. He taunted De La Hoya at every turn. He stole his meals. He presented him with a live chicken at a news conference. He was frequently boorish and crass.
Schaefer, who was brought into the boxing business by De La Hoya, was irate.
"I was ready to send him home [off the tour]," Schaefer said of Mayweather.
So they had a long talk about promoting and public perception, and the two eventually became incredibly close, with a bond that remains to this day. Mayweather took Schaefer's words to heart, promoted himself brilliantly, and became one of the biggest stars in boxing history.
Schaefer decided he needed to do the same thing with Broner. He booted everyone from Broner's large and outlandish entourage out of the room so it would be just Broner and himself, face-to-face and brutally honest.
"I didn't know how he was going to take it, but I had to have a talk with Adrien and I had to let him know what it took to really be a star in this boxing business," Schaefer said.
Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) has been a superstar in his own mind for a long time. He refers to Mayweather as his big brother, and he patterns much of what he does in and out of the ring after Mayweather.
Broner is far more outrageous than Mayweather ever was, but he is vastly less accomplished at a similar age. He seems not to care that the original is always more coveted than a two-bit knockoff.
Broner is 24 years, four months old. By the time Mayweather was 24 years, four months, he'd already beaten Genaro Hernandez and Diego Corrales in one-sided manner and was regarded as the best fighter in the world. Broner's best wins are a stoppage of Antonio DeMarco and close decisions over Daniel Ponce de Leon and Paulie Malignaggi.
Give Broner credit, though: Tasteless or not, outrageous or not, accomplished or not, he has forced the boxing world to notice him. His notoriety far exceeds his accomplishments.
And in a sport where the size of one's paycheck is determined in large part by name recognition, Broner has already become one of the game's better-paid stars.
He'll face his toughest test Saturday when he takes on Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs), the power-punching Argentine, in the main event of a Showtime-televised card at the Alamodome.
Broner figures to have significant advantages in speed, quickness and boxing ability, but in Maidana, he'll face someone with the kind of punching power he's never previously seen.
For all of his talk and bluster, his stardom will depend upon his ability to defuse Maidana's power and make it an easy night.
Broner seems to have taken Schaefer's words to heart, and hasn't been as crass or outrageous in the last several weeks.
That doesn't mean, though, that he's any less confident.
"I took this fight because a lot of people were saying that I was picking my opponents and I haven't fought any legitimate fighters, but I was just blessed with the talent," he said. "I make good fighters look basic. Now, I take on El Chino Maidana, hard-hitting knockout artist, Argentine superstar, pretty face, what can I say? It’s going to be a hell of a fight.
"… It doesn't matter what I do. I just feel like I never get the credit that I deserve, so even when I win this fight, and I’m going to win this fight in a spectacular fashion, [I won't get credit]."
Broner's problem is that he has spent a large part of his time trying to be outrageous, and flaunting his money, and so his boxing skills have been overlooked.
He was brilliant against DeMarco, though he was far less than brilliant against Ponce de Leon and Malignaggi. He gives every indication that he has the kind of elite skills that should get him to the top and keep him there for a long time.
But it's always hard with Broner to figure out what is real and what is con. He's always playing an angle, and he creates the perception that he's addicted to the party lifestyle. Mayweather is renowned for his dedication to training, and though he goes to night clubs, his glass only contains water or juice.
It's difficult to know if Broner has a similar dedication. He said the right things at a workout on Wednesday, however.
"I have to stay focused," he said. "I'm not going to allow distractions. I'm not going to lie: This is the biggest fight of my career to date. He is going to try to hurt me, so I am ready and focused."
A little zaniness and outrageousness is a good thing. It will get him attention and keep him in the news, as long as, behind the facade, he's doing the things that elite athletes need to do to remain at the top.
That's the question that remains with Broner. If Schaefer was able to convince him of that, Saturday's main event may be the unveiling of boxing's next major star.
- Sports & Recreation
- Adrien Broner
- Richard Schaefer
- Marcos Maidana
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Floyd Mayweather