Adrien Broner is news. The immensely talented professional boxer, who has yet to find a weight class, is already a four division world champion before the age of 27. If only Broner’s immature antics would stop overshadowing his talent in the ring.
On Friday April 1st, after demolishing an outgunned Ashley Theophane at the DC Armory, (it ended in a brutal stoppage in the ninth round) Broner took to the microphone to spout off about wanting to fight his former mentor, Floyd Mayweather.
So now a retired fighter and a fighter who lost his world title on a scale are soaking up the headlines instead of anyone who is actually fighting. Whether this be a real-life soap opera or a staged one, it certainly doesn’t seem to be about boxing. It is only about the soap opera.
The O.J. Factor
I listened to the recently launched Bill Simmons podcast that featured a segment on the O.J. Simpson trial. Why bring this up? Because the O.J. Trial launched an era of news coverage that focused on sensationalizing the mundane elements of whatever it was covering, and we may be seeing the same at play with Broner. Broner’s eating a Big Mac! Broner’s stealing someone’s girlfriend! Broner might go to jail! Well, that last one’s not so mundane. More on that later.
These days, it seems that boxing fulfills a void that reality television, pro wrestling, bar fights and other things used to fulfill. The new news cycle requires new content daily, if not hourly. In the past, the Broner / Mayweather feud might have existed, but only taken up a single paragraph in a newspaper column. Broner is the first true product of the internet generation using public platforms to air out grievances. He’s a grown man with lots of new money doing questionable things (like robbery and assault) to seemingly prove his membership in a lower class. It’s almost like Broner wants to be mocked. He wants to have people look at him as a person who came from poverty and is now living as cartoonishly lavish a lifestyle as possible.
Brash black man syndrome
Let’s look at the current political environment. Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” which many African Americans look at as an indictment of a black president. I have always felt that some of the hatred for Broner comes from the fact that certain people from the status quo don’t like seeing a black man being unabashedly cocky, arrogant and apologetic with money in a capitalist system. On the other hand, Broner is obnoxious and partly to blame for antics like this. Articles like this one entitled “AB: About Bullshitting” on a credible website seemed to have heavy racial tones.
I get that you might not be a fan of Broner’s, but it is laughable and absurd to think that Khabib Allakhverdiev, who was in tears between rounds in his fight with Broner last year, was in any control of the fight whatsoever. Yet, if you read “About bullshitting,” you wouldn’t be reading about Broner’s power punching and constant domination, and would only hear that Broner’s taunts and razzle-dazzle are him “stealing rounds.”
We forget how good Adrien Broner is when he is on. At lightweight, the division I felt he was best at, I have never seen a better fighter. Is he limited with footwork? Yes. Does it matter? Not so much! Adrien Broner is like Conor McGregor, a naturally large man who cut dramatic weight in order to fight smaller men, giving up defense to land big shots that would knock his foes out. Broner’s hand speed is nothing short of incredible and his ability to hurt opponents was like Mike Tyson fighting Lil Mac.
Trouble in Paradise
Broner has made a lot of mistakes lately, and he has no one to blame but himself. What’s he been up to?
He has missed weight numerous times now, his most recent folly being the loss of his 140 lbs world title a few weeks ago on the scale, by .4 lbs. Even if Broner had drained all the fluids from his body and couldn’t sweat anymore, it was a horrible PR move to drink fluids immediately after missing weight, conceding the title with no apparent remorse or regret. Broner has been documented multiple times in training camp overweight.
Broner’s last fight was booked on April Fool’s Day (which some think was a statement) and Premier Boxing Champions boxing posted an unflattering photo of him on social media holding on to Shawn Porter, in a bout Broner lost … and Broner frequently fights for PBC.
The relationship between Broner and Floyd Mayweather was once so close, they seemed like family. These days, it seems like they spend more time spitting harsh truths about one another to the media than training or promoting. One might speculate that Mayweather looks at Broner and sees a lot of his own youthful mistakes and is angry Broner won’t listen to good advice from someone who’s been there. Conversely, Broner may wonder why Mayweather complains about him, when all he’s doing is emulating Mayweather’s early career immaturity. Broner used to be the darling of Mayweather Promotions. Though not signed to the promotion, he had a very close affiliation with them. Now it appears genuine tension and disdain exists on both sides.
The Broner / Mayweather exchanges have been covered ad nauseum and most of these awkward moments are available on YouTube. Intimate details about Broner’s demons are called out, such as his possible alcohol addiction and questions surrounding his investments and capital gains.
Meanwhile, we see a pattern of Mayweather growing away from the streets. Part of the reason he has cut ties with Broner is because of Broner’s unwillingness to leave behind his past and focus on strictly the present.
This loud, public back and forth riff between the two fighters that has some thinking that a bout is looming in the near future. If that’s true, then boxing may have truly jumped the shark.
Before Broner can fight Floyd Mayweather, he has another dilemma to contend with: he is a wanted man. Broner stands accused of committing assault and armed robbery in front of a bowling alley at 3:30 A.M. after someone won a lot of money off of Broner from bowling side bets. You can’t make this stuff up. He has since turned himself in, posted $100,000 bail and issued a not guilty plea at his arraignment. He had better work on his humility game, because it seems to me that the judge might love to make an example out of this immature, flamboyant boxing superstar.
Are We Fueling Broner’s Self-Destruction?
Amid Broner’s swirling torrent of troubles, I can’t help but wonder whether we as a culture, and particularly we the media, are fueling his decline. Even when he was focused on training, the reports about him were never about his blinding hand speed. All we wanted to talk about was his out-of-the-ring issues. Even worse, it seems as though Broner is playing along, creating absurd scenarios for us to report on. At what point do we have a moral obligation to turn away from the Broner circus? If Broner wants to fight Mayweather out of spite and a need to address perceived slights, should we actually support this absurd possibility?
Yes, I know preview articles are fun and so are picking fights. But to entertain the idea that a Broner / Mayweather fight will happen ignores the fact that Mayweather doesn’t seem interested and Broner may be in jail. Yet we keep crowing about this imaginary matchup. Why? With great respect, most boxing bloggers are not full time writers, and are starstruck by their favorite fighters. And the writers fortunate enough to make a living covering boxing seem to have lost their edge, writing either clickbait or down-the-middle vanilla prose. Which of them will lead the charge to stop rubbernecking at this train wreck?
Lost in all this chatter is the fact that Broner’s only two career losses come above 140 lbs., the weight class that he must fight at full time now, as he says he can no longer make the lower weights. This spells trouble. Broner has never shown he can hang with the elite welterweights yet. He has lost to both Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter, two highly-ranked fighters at the time Broner fought them. Broner will now be the physically smaller man, even if he is wider than his foes. Broner’s frame is not that big and the muscle he is putting on may not be the kind of muscle that helps him in a fight (show muscle, not pragmatic muscle.)
Broner has been plagued by problems since he left the lightweight division. He’s had a misogynist rivalry with Paulie Malignaggi over Broner “stealing Malignaggi’s sidepiece,” where Malignaggi viciously exploits the deficits in Broner’s verbal arsenal (that clip is long, but worth it if you like drama). In the ring, he had a series of terrible outings. First against Carlos Molina (who Amir Khan outclassed,) then a life and death war with a contender, but not elite Emmanuel Taylor and finally, a beatdown at the hands of Shawn Porter.
Broner was, at one point, one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport. You might argue that his competition was tamer earlier his career, but I would point you to Daniel Ponce de Leon (a debatable win that Broner edged) and Antonio DeMarco as his defining performances. It is sad to think of his future. At 147 lbs. Broner has lost whatever made him special at lightweight. By necessity, he is more of a slower paced fighter, hoping to win fights in bursts rather than power through hell to give it to you.
Finally, I also wonder about Broner’s body. My concern is that he isn’t cutting weight the same way since the time he dramatically cut weight to get to 130. Perhaps he has damaged his kidneys or other organs. When I saw a dehydrated Adrien Broner at the scales a couple weeks ago, he looked like he couldn’t even sweat. I began to wonder if his diet and salt intake in particular have made it hard to lose those last few ounces in order to make weight.
A fresh start
After losing to Shawn Porter, Broner refused to talk to the media, saying AB now stood for “About Business.” I have to wonder after reading Deadspin’s piece by Dave McKenna called succinctly, “Adrien Broner is a Dick” do we, the media, deserve another chance? McKenna rips Broner without any sort of reflection or explanation on WHY Broner’s is a dick. It seems rather a joyful public humiliation of Broner, rather than an attempt to get to the story behind it, and when someone is a dick like Broner, there has to be a story behind it.
Broner is a man who made it the boxing world with charisma and skill, but now he seems lost. He lacks structure and guidance. He’s his own worst enemy, and as a result, his career hangs in the balance. I have a feeling Broner is going to go broke after his career is over and that may be the most interesting and newsworthy thing about him right now. It’s what inspired me to write this article. We are writers, but we are also humans. Do we not have a responsibility to act when we see a depressed person running their life into the ground? So far, none of us has owned up to that responsibility.