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Adrien Broner's third-person big talk all well and good, but quality competition should be his focus

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

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HBO Sports - 2 Days: Adrien Broner

HBO Sports - 2 Days: Adrien Broner

HBO Sports - 2 Days: Adrien Broner

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Give this to Adrien Broner: The man doesn't think small.

The unbeaten former super featherweight champion doesn't want to simply become known as the greatest fighter ever from Cincinnati, where he was born and raised, and still lives.

He's got much loftier goals than that.

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Adrien Broner, 23, has already received votes in the Y! Sports pound-for-pound boxing list. (Getty)

"Adrien Broner not only wants to be the best from Cincinnati, but the best boxer ever to lace up a pair of boxing gloves," Broner said. "That's the conversation I want my name in."

Just becoming the greatest from Cincinnati is going to be a massive accomplishment for the brash 23-year-old, who meets Antonio DeMarco on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., for the WBC lightweight belt in a bout televised nationally by HBO.

The finest boxer ever from Cincinnati is probably former heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, who is regarded by many respected boxing historians as the top light heavyweight ever even though he never held a 175-pound title.

If it's not Charles, though, then it has to be the legendary Aaron Pryor. Pryor fought in what was probably boxing's last golden age, from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, and amassed a 39-1 mark with 35 knockouts.

More significantly, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran – probably three of the 50 greatest fighters who ever lived – never fought him. Leonard has been highly criticized for assiduously avoiding a fight with Pryor during his illustrious career.

There have been a couple of other great Cincinnati-bred fighters, including Depression-era featherweight Freddie Miller and bantamweight Tim Austin, a 1992 American Olympian.

Broner has much to do if he is to catch them, let alone force his name into any kind of all-time debate.

[Also from Kevin Iole: GSP's return a boon for Dana White, UFC]

Unquestionably, though, he has extraordinary physical gifts and those give him the potential to have a dominant career.

He's fast and is a sharp, accurate puncher. He's drawn some comparisons to the great Floyd Mayweather Jr., though he's not remotely in Mayweather's league as far as defensive skills.

Boxing, though, isn't about which fighter has the best physical gifts. It's about heart, guile, desire, timing, instinct and a slew of other attributes that can't easily be measured.

The only way to seriously determine whether a fighter has those is by watching him against other top-level boxers. Broner has never been in the ring with anyone who was remotely a threat to beat him. He's been great as a frontrunner while compiling a 24-0 record with 20 knockouts, but the question he needs to answer is how he'll handle adversity, if and when he faces it.

Broner is infinitely more physically gifted than DeMarco, but if DeMarco has proven anything in his career, it's that he's as hard-nosed and fearless as they come. This is a guy who survived while eating out of trashcans in his native Mexico. DeMarco is not going to be intimidated by a guy with fast hands and a penchant for self-promotion.

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Adrien Broner exchanges punches with Vincente Martin Rodriguez. (AP)

Broner, though, is justifiably favored to win the belt and earn recognition as the No. 1 active lightweight. When you're compared to talents like Mayweather, much is expected and a win over a guy like DeMarco is a good place to start.

Barry Hunter, one of the sport's finest trainers and one of Broner’s mentors, put the phenom into elite company during an interview with HBO Sports.

"Every once in a while, you'll have an athlete who is born or blessed with certain gifts, more so than the others," Hunter told HBO. "Floyd Mayweather has it. Roy Jones had it. Ray Leonard had it. You can see the same type of thing in Adrien Broner. All the fans who have not seen this young man fight before, you're going to see something very, very special."

That's extraordinarily elite company, and Broner has done nothing yet to prove he's worthy of such praise.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer called Broner "a world-class talent," but admitted his biggest challenges are yet to come.

It will be in those fights where Broner can accurately be judged, against the best from Cincinnati and the best of all-time.

If Broner has anything in abundance, though, it’s self-confidence. And he has no doubt he's going to hit every benchmark expected.

Asked who are the three best fighters he's ever seen, Broner began by mentioning Mayweather. He then brought up his good friend and fellow Cincinnatian, Rau'shee Warren. Then, for a second, Broner was silent as he thought of who else would warrant such high praise.

"I got to say Adrien Broner," he said. "Who else can I say? If I said anyone else, I'd be lying to you. I got to tell the truth. I'm the best."

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