Adrien Broner was just 13 years old when the war in Iraq began in 2003 with a tactic that Bush Administration officials dubbed "Shock and awe."
Shock and awe is a great description of the manner in which Broner has tried to handle his boxing career. He's tried to shock fans and media with the outrageous way he portrays himself. Nothing is too raunchy, nor too profane, to come out of Broner's mouth.
And he tries to awe with his talent in the ring, where he's won all 26 of his bouts, 22 of them by knockout.
Broner will move up from lightweight to welterweight Saturday to challenge Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA title in the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card at the Barclays Center.
For some reason, he's a massive favorite, as oddsmakers have appeared to totally discount Malignaggi and forget that he's a quality fighter himself. Despite Malignaggi's long track record of success, Broner has soared to more than a 10-1 favorite at many sports books.
It says a lot about Broner's physical gifts that he's perceived to be good enough to be more than a 10-1 favorite against a quality fighter like Malignaggi. Still, on all counts, Broner's shock-and-awe strategy has had decidedly mixed results to date.
Broner is witty, charismatic and downright funny when he wants to be. But just as often he's profane, raunchy and occasionally even lewd.
One can debate whether Broner crossed the line at a May 4 news conference in Las Vegas by not only saying that he was sleeping with Malignaggi's ex-girlfriend, but then calling her on the phone as he stood on a dais.
Some saw it as going too far, while others saw it as another example of Broner's showmanship.
Unquestionably, though, Broner showed dramatically poor judgment when he climbed on stage at a strip club earlier this year and performed oral sex on one of the dancers. Of course, the entire tawdry incident found its way onto YouTube.
Broner can live the lifestyle he wants to live. His boxing ability has helped him become a rich man at a young age and if he wants to blow tens of thousands at a strip club, that's his prerogative. Those who have been around know that when he's 50, he'll wish he still had that money, but it's his and he's free to spend it as he wishes.
But he crossed a major line of decency and professional decorum by going onto the stage and performing a sex act on the dancer as cameras crowded near him.
He's all but making it impossible for parents to allow their children to watch him and it's not being prudish to say his act on that stage was disgusting.
His Twitter feed is a stream-of-consciousness medley of his thoughts about women, his lot in life and, of course, money, with plenty of profanity folded in.
He figures to earn the really big money if he learns, and soon, how to find the right balance between the brazen antics that help hype a fight and the reckless behavior he occasionally displays that does nothing but turn people off.
Even more, though, is his performance in the ring. For all the accolades he's received and the comparisons to a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. that have been made, one thing is certain:
At this point, Broner is not only no Mayweather, he's not even close.
Mayweather fought vastly better competition in his first 26 fights than Broner has in his first 26. Mayweather deserved a B-plus or an A-minus for his level of opposition at 26 fights. Broner at best deserves a C-minus and perhaps just a D-plus.
And at that stage, Mayweather was a far more complete fighter than Broner is now, with vastly better defense, far better combinations and a markedly better ring sense.
That said, the critics who contend that Broner isn't one of the sport's most talented fighters are ignoring the obvious. Broner has a strong straight right hand, he's got a sturdy chin, extremely fast hands and quick feet.
That makes him a dangerous opponent and a reasonable choice to defeat Malignaggi and pull off the rare move in modern boxing of skipping a weight class and winning a belt two divisions higher.
Malignaggi, though, was totally correct when he noted that the vast majority of Broner opponents were there to be beaten up and weren't serious threats to win.
"You punch me, I'm going to punch you back in the face," Malignaggi said. "That's the difference. Those guys just took it. I'm going to punch you back."
Malignaggi will also test Broner in another way, in that he'll force Broner to be in shape to beat him. Malignaggi taunted Broner about his body, noting he looked as if he were training near a donut factory.
But Malignaggi is going to use the ring, throw a lot of punches and make Broner work to beat him.
The question is if Broner has put in the time he needs to be able to handle the pace that Malignaggi will inevitably push.
There has never been any such question about Mayweather, Broner's idol. Mayweather is one of sport's finest conditioned athletes and treats his body like a shrine.
Broner clearly likes the nightlife and the celebrity that having a world title and a big paycheck bring. Mayweather likes those things, too, but he proved he has the discipline to handle them.
If he's at a nightclub, he's drinking water or juice, not alcohol. And he often leaves a club and trains for hours starting at 3 or 4 in the morning.
It's still to be determined whether Broner has the legendary Mayweather discipline.
Broner is a gifted guy, and with the right person to advise him on his public relations and marketing and a team that will ensure he puts his work in, he could be Mayweather's successor.
But, as many suspect, if Broner is talking a good game more than anything else, there is going to be plenty of shock and awe at how fast his fall from grace happens.
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