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Adrien Broner: First Class or Just Crass?

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COMMENTARY | Adrien Broner is primed for stardom in the boxing world and could be the sport's next massive crossover athlete once Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao decide to hang up the gloves. As the heir apparent in personality to his "big brother" Mayweather, Broner understands that being the fighter many love, and many more love to hate is the formula to success. And judging by the way that Broner handled his victory over Paulie Malignaggi by boasting about stripping him of his title and his lady, we're in for a lot more crass than class and boxing fans tuning in with hopes that somebody, somewhere will finally shut Broner up.

So, the question is whether it is good or bad for boxing.

It's no secret that Broner ripped a page out of Floyd Mayweather's book on how to be a villain in the sport of boxing. The mannerisms are similar from the clever quips to the constant and near nauseating flashing of dollar bills at every turn. At first glance, the two are share a likeness with their in-ring antics as Broner absolutely grew up idolizing Mayweather's shoulder roll and possesses the attribute of lightning quick hands. But if you look a little longer, Broner and Mayweather are quite different both in and out of the ring.

From a style perspective, Broner is offensive minded fighter first who can an deploy an excellent defense when necessary. Mayweather has always been defense first and offense second. Broner looks to walk down his prey and unload, Mayweather surgically picks apart his foes and adjusts on the fly to mistakes. As far as personality is concerned, Mayweather may have a mouth on him, but Broner takes trash talking and upsetting boxing's elders to another level.

Whether it be Broner posting photos of himself on the toilet or video of him participating in some questionable acts on stage with a stripper, Broner takes offensive to another level. He spends money like water, talks enough trash to the point where you could set him out on the corner and the garbage man would pick him up in the morning and has an ego with its own zip code. For many, it is all in bad taste and showcases a fighter who lacks decency and sportsmanship. However, as long as Broner continues to outclass opponents in the ring, his etiquette outside of the ring will remain the same.

He's only 23, so much of what he does can be chalked up to immaturity, but what he does is make people root for him one way or another. But after the relatively close call against Paulie Malignaggi, one has to wonder if he's really as good as advertised or if Broner is more flash and flare than actual talent.

Watching Broner in his split decision victory raised a lot of questions. For one, the Malignaggi fight was very similar to Broner's controversial 2011 decision victory over Daniel Ponce de Leon in the way that Broner started off extremely slow and allowed his opponent to be the busier fighter. Broner's confidence could eventually betray him as he often believes that he can hit his opponent with the more telling blows and turn on the pressure when necessary. But there's always a judge who may see Broner's lack of activity as a detriment and score his fights the other way.

The other question is what happens when Broner faces an opponent that can hurt him. When you look at the landscape of both the 140 and 147 lbs weight classes, names like Lucas Matthysse, Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero would all represent a huge -- and much needed -- step up in competition. Malignaggi, for as good as he was against Broner, didn't have enough pop in his punches to alter the game plan. Broner knew that, took advantage and the result was a fair one, despite Malignaggi citing some gift scoring. A fighter like Matthysse or even Alexander would force Broner to switch his game plan on the fly in the event that he gets hit harder than he anticipates (Matthysse) or is having some difficulty adjusting to speed (Alexander).

But the truth is that Broner is one of the most promising talents in all of boxing. For some, he's a harder hitting Mayweather. He makes boxing fun to watch. And whether you agree with his tendencies outside of the ring or not, Adrien Broner can sell you a fight and make you feel good for paying for it. Whereas, Mayweather has often been criticized for selling fans on a fight only to make it a boring affair with very little drama. Not to mention that Broner seems like the type of guy that will face any and all comers. The last thing his ego needs is someone telling him that he ducks fighters.

But we have to wonder if he's more Zab Judah than Floyd Mayweather.

Judah was a supreme talent that openly admits that he partied harder than he trained and it eventually caught up with him. The spotlight was too bright for Judah to shy away from and his celebrity crippled his boxing prowess. Relying on sheer ability and opting for the club nights with a belly full of liquor over early runs and vigorous training sessions spelled his demise. Mayweather, on the other hand, may party hard but there is no doubt about it that he's the hardest working man in the sport. You will find no alcohol in his system nor can you question his work ethic. We have yet to see Broner at his peak as both a celebrity and a fighter so there is a reason to be concerned if he can handle both with equal weight.

Broner has a long way to go but he has already etched himself as the heir to the throne thanks to his remarkable boxing ability. His personality, on the other hand, is an acquired taste that may turn fight fans off. You can call him what you want, but until somebody puts a blemish on his record, you can't call him a loser.

And whether you like him or not, Adrien Broner is must watch TV in a sport that is desperate to find its next blockbuster star that will keep viewers both young and old engaged.

Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).

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