COMMENTARY | Adrien Broner may have co-opted Floyd Mayweather's ring style and may have adopted his lifestyle, but it became apparent Saturday night at the Barclays Center In Brooklyn that he is most definitely not Floyd Mayweather.
On paper, it was an impressive feat for the 23-year-old fighter to move up two weight classes, from lightweight to welterweight, to capture one of the four recognized world titles against a veteran name like Paulie Malignaggi. On a resume, to be a three-division world champ at 23 years of age is quite an accomplishment.
However, there were few knowledgeable boxing people who saw Malignaggi as anything more than a light snack for "The Problem." For a guy already listed on some pound-for-pound lists, this bout should've been a gimme, albeit one with a significant amount of hype leading up to fight night. But it wasn't a stroll in the park for Broner. And even though an informed scorecard should've had him winning decisively, he didn't look like anything more special than a really solid high-end prospect.
"Paulie fought exactly how I thought he was going to fight," Broner said in his post-fight interview on Showtime. "As soon as he felt my power, he got on his bicycle and I had to literally cut him off the whole fight. I respect him. He's a hell of a fighter. He's a world-class fighter, and to come into somebody's hometown and beat them on a split decision, that's great to me…He couldn't hit me, he couldn't hit me. He was shadowboxing...It's a tremendous accomplishment. 23 years old, 27 and 0, 22 knockouts; I mean, who's doing it like me in the game? Nobody."
Part of The Problem's problem was that Malignaggi came to the ring highly motivated and with the full understanding that he needed to turn in an impressive performance if he wanted to squeeze out a few more professional paydays.
A motivated Paulie notwithstanding, Broner's biggest issue was internal. When he actually joined the fight in the fifth round and let his hands go, it became painfully obvious that he could rip Malignaggi to pieces if he decided to fully engage.
But Broner never fully engaged. He picked his punches sparingly, shook his head derisively at Malignaggi's lack of power, but mostly just stood around, shoulder tucked to his side like Mayweather with no real fire or initiative. A better opponent with more power would've made Broner pay dearly for his indifference.
If one didn't know better, this performance could've been written off as Broner simply fighting up to (or down to) the level of his opposition, but this isn't the first time he allowed a more aggressive, less talented fighter to have his way for large chunks of a bout. In 2011, Daniel Ponce de Leon pretty much had his way with Broner at super featherweight, controlling the pace of the bout and landing most of the best punches en route to a controversial unanimous decision loss.
Saturday's split decision win was not shady in the least, nor was Malignaggi able to do to Broner what Ponce de Leon did. But it did show that, when push comes to shove, Broner can be shut down, he can be outworked. Unlike Mayweather, who is a legitimate boxing prodigy and always worked behind a tremendous ring IQ, Broner will have to develop his world class skills the hard way-through trial and error and a ring schedule full of hardcore life lessons. Malignaggi, DeMarco, and Escobedo are solid names to have on a young fighter's resume, but the real life lessons are just about to come.
The question remains whether the entertaining fighter from Cincinnati, who already proudly boasts of being on top of the world, is willing to put in the hard labor required to go from intriguing prospect to elite, world class star--- and if he's willing to risk a few losses on that road to greatness.
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.
Source: Showtime Championship Boxing
- Sports & Recreation
- Adrien Broner
- Paulie Malignaggi
- Floyd Mayweather