The only people who are surprised that Adrien Broner lost a fight that he could have, and probably should have, won are those who haven't been watching that closely.
Broner was beaten soundly by Marcos Maidana on Saturday in their welterweight title fight in San Antonio, getting badly outworked in the process. The heavy-handed Maidana threw more than twice as many punches as Broner, scored two knockdowns, and pulled out a unanimous decision to claim Broner's WBA belt.
Broner, 24, was annointed a star far before his time and he wasn't developed at the proper pace. On top of it, he developed plenty of bad habits and still doesn't have a complete game.
He faced shockingly easy competition on the way up and throughout his career and wasn't forced to learn the hard way in the ring. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. was on the rise, matchmaker Bruce Trampler did an expert job matching him. Trampler found fighters who were going to challenge Mayweather in certain areas, and who could push him at a given stage of his development.
They were fights he was expected to win, to be sure, but for the most part the bouts weren't the easy public flogging type bouts that were regularly given to Broner.
But in light of his loss, more than a few are dumping on Broner. That's to be expected given how cocky, crude and crass Broner has been.
He is, however, a young fighter with very good skills who has the potential to become legitimately outstanding.
Now, though, 28 fights into his career, he still lacks awareness in the ring and is unable to adjust on the fly. He doesn't have a good jab. His defense is subpar. And his commitment to being great is highly questionable. He's never going to be a superstar being a part-time fighter and full-time celebrity.
Still, the ability is there for him to legitimately be one of the best in the world. Now, it's mostly p.r. and marketing hype, but he has the skills to fulfill his promise.
Broner has good power, fast hands and a big heart. Dislike him all you want for his audacious personality, but respect him for his willingness to hang in there in spite of formidable odds and fight back. Maidana is a hard-hitting fighter who was catching Broner with many clean shots.
Broner went down twice, but he got up and fought back. And he did that throughout the fight.
He needs a team around him who will square with him and won't simply tell him what he wants to hear. He needs to go to a boxing boot camp, where he can fine-tune his game and learn what it takes to win at the highest level.
He's been given much in his young pro career, most of which he hasn't earned.
He's good enough to earn it, though, and it's high time someone made him do so.
He may yet become a star on his own merit.