COMMENTARY | Adrien Broner, who just celebrated his 24th birthday on July 28, has every reason to believe that he is on the road to super stardom. Already a three-division world champ, Broner has produced some solid TV ratings and has received a disproportionate amount of media coverage for a fighter of his age and level of accomplishment.
But, before fans and media get ahead of themselves and dub him "the next big thing," it's very, very possible that "The Problem" will never even get to the point where he can prove himself as a true elite in the sport.
This past June, the irritatingly brash leader of the "Band Camp," got his first taste of main stage boxing exposure while taking the WBA welterweight title from Paulie Malignaggi at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. All things being equal, Broner-Malignaggi was a relatively minor bout for a paper title that became much more significant because of both fighters' willingness to go well beyond the boundaries of good taste.
The trash talk leading to Broner-Malignaggi appealed to the morbid curiosity of fight fans, but did nothing to elevate the status of either fighter. And Broner, who came into the bout as the favorite looking to use a veteran name as a stepping stone, did little to advance his career with a tepid, uneven effort in a closer-than-expected split decision victory.
Granted, Malignaggi is a smart, experienced veteran who specializes in survival and in making opponents look bad. But the true elite have always walked right through Paulie and Broner, who was being sold as the next Floyd Mayweather, should've done better than a split decision in the biggest bout of his career.
But this wasn't the first time that Broner failed to produce when faced with a "next level" challenge.
Back in 2011, Broner looked similarly tepid against Mexican veteran two-division world champ, Daniel Ponce De Leon in what was supposed to be the young fighter's coming out party on HBO. To this day, more than a few analysts (including this writer) feel that Broner was given a gift decision that night and was fortunate to keep his undefeated record against the crude, but heavy-handed Ponce de Leon. Two years prior, in his eight round debut, Broner struggled to take a majority decision against the much less talented Fernando Quintero, once again suffering through an inexplicable lack of execution in an important milestone fight.
Now, with the Malignaggi win behind him and nothing but great expectations ahead, there can be no room for stage fright or any other type of performance anxiety. Every fight from here on out is a milestone fight and real pros gobble up guys who offer up uneven performances on the boxing main stage.
Broner, however, keeps talking and keeps walking forward as though his greatness has already been confirmed. Two Argentine brawlers, Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse, look to be the first who may get a shot at knocking Broner off his pedestal. As expected, the reigning WBA welterweight titlist is dismissive of his heavy-handed potential foes.
"I see a lot of people hating on me and my decisions," Broner wrote via Twitter. "Well listen, I ain't perfect, but I know one thing I'm undefeated and young and on top. ... I love my haters and the ones who love me. You're a damn fool if you think Marcos Maidana can beat me! And when I'm done when this [expletive] Maidana I'm going to [expletive] Matthysse up. Easy money."
Broner certainly has the raw talent to back up his boasts and has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career. But those flashes of brilliance have been framed within lackluster efforts in some of his biggest fights.
Great fighters are characterized by consistent brilliance and elevated levels of execution for the bouts that matter the most. Broner has yet to master either trait.
There's still plenty of time for Broner to improve and remove whatever bad habits he may have, but not if he's already convinced that he's as good as he needs to be.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.Sources: Badlefthook, Twitter
- Sports & Recreation
- Adrien Broner
- Paulie Malignaggi