By Sean Crose
Has Adrien Broner found his place? Quite possibly so. Status-wise, the Cincinnati native is light years away from where he was just a year ago. Virtually no one is calling Broner a pound for pound elite anymore. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who would call Broner an elite in his own weight class these days.
Yet the man has some major factors working in his favor. For one thing, he’s exciting. Rarely is Broner in a thoroughly boring bout. He can hit, he’s fast and he has the courage to stand and fight. Such things certainly make for a fan friendly experience. Win or lose, Broner is almost always entertaining in the ring.
What’s more, the fighter known as The Problem is controversial. And controversy gives birth to attention. Lots of attention. Few would argue that the man, at least in public, isn’t a world class jerk. Whether he’s flushing money down a toilet in a public restroom or choking an opponent during a press conference, Broner seems to see little value in being a decent guy. Needless to say, fans love to see a person like Broner lose.
Lastly, there’s something funny about Broner. Sure, many find him infuriating, but there’s something about the man’s delusions of grandeur which come across as comical. There will always be one person who will believe Broner is one of the greatest boxers on the planet, no matter what evidence exists to the contrary – and that person is Broner. Such arrogant cluelessness leads to curiosity, which in turn leads to revenue and ratings.
Speaking of which, the ratings for last Saturday’s closer than expected bout reportedly proved to be pretty favorable to Broner. And that’s the point. He may not be the fighter people thought he was, but Broner brings in eyeballs and dollars, nonetheless. In other words, the man is lucrative for the sport. That fact alone may keep him relevant for a good long while.
A few months back I wrote that Broner might well be the new Hector Camacho. This past weekend’s performance only strengthened that belief for me. Like Broner, Camacho was brash, egotistical and talented. Needless to say, Camacho proved to be a successful and well known boxer – he just never proved to be a great one. It appears the same may be able to be said someday of Broner.
Of course Broner could improve. It’s not inconceivable, after all, that this young man could still rise to true prominence in his chosen sport. The chances of such a thing actually happening, however, seem to be dwindling. Broner was fighting in front of his hometown crowd on Saturday – yet he was unable to dominate an unheralded (though, admittedly underrated) opponent.
If Broner continues to show vulnerability after his bruising loss to Marcos Maidana, one has to wonder how good he’d look if he were to step into the ring with upscale opponents like Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and even Chris Algieri (who handily bested the very same Emmanuel Taylor Broner had trouble with last weekend). No doubt Broner thinks he can beat such men, but do a lot of other people?
Then again, it’s wise to recall Camacho. The guy’s greatest victories were against an over the hill Ray Mancini and a really over the hill Ray Leonard. Men like Julio Caesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya were able to take Camacho to school. Yet Camacho still won most of his fights and continued to stay relevant by virtue of his flamboyance and his mouth. After a while, most knew he wasn’t as great as he pretended to be, but it didn’t matter. People still wanted to watch him fight. Why? Because, whether he was loved or loathed, Camacho was always interesting.
Just like Broner is today.