By: Ste Rowen
It’s not easy to like Adrien Broner. The Ohio-fighter seems to make it that way. Google ‘Broner charged’ and you find yourself stuck in an online quagmire of news ranging from the ridiculous to the disgusting.
Yet for all his misdemeanours, all of his ‘problems’, Broner has achieved much, sometimes in spite of himself; becoming a four-weight world champion by his seventh year as a pro when he bounced back from a decision defeat to now WBC champion, Shaun Porter at welterweight, to stop Khabib Allakhverdiev and become the WBA super-lightweight champion.
That victory came just four months on from defeat to Porter. It should’ve signalled (another) new beginning for the then WBA titlist to ‘kick on’, forget his adversities, keep hold of parts of the personality that makes him such a divisive figure but back it up with results and performances that fans can admire. He declared post-fight, ‘I’m getting wiser…This next half of my career, I’m going to be about boxing and billions.’
Too good to be true right? Right.
In his next fight, what should have been his first defence, was also an ample opportunity to prove this version of Adrien Broner was the best incarnation, capable and hungry to face the best of his division such as, fellow title holders at the time such as Terence Crawford, Viktor Postol (who did end up fighting each other later in the year), or even lower top 10 contenders such as, Lucas Matthyse or Ricky Burns.
Instead he faced Ashley Theophane, missed weight, so had already lost his title before he stepped in the ring; and then showed us what we already knew, that overweight or not, his handpicked opponent had no business being in the ring with him; stopping the US-based Brit in the 9th.
Between then and now just a few of Broner’s outside-the-ring incidents include being arrested for riding in a vehicle ‘riddled with bullets’, surrendering to police after beating up and robbing a man, threatening to take his own life via Instagram and, most recently being charged with two incidents of sexual battery.
Whenever I see Broner in the news all I can think of is Michael Scott coldly asking Toby Flenderson, ‘Why are you the way that you are?’
So much talent, so little sense. He had a rough upbringing but seemingly taking it out on innocent people isn’t the way to deal with personal demons. But it’s the world in which he presides, and why many fans on social media are telling any fighter pictured with ‘The Problem’ to ‘keep away from Broner’ in a socializing sense.
The sporting question though is, look beyond the Manny Pacquiao fight this weekend, where is the 29-year-old’s career headed? Victory over the Filipino legend on Saturday crowns him as the WBA ‘Regular’ welterweight champion with Keith Thurman the sanctioning body’s ‘super’ champion. For now, current WBC-holder and former foe Porter is occupied with Yordenis Ugas (9th March), plus, how appealing would a rematch really be between the two? And it seems cruel to even think about putting him in with Crawford or IBF titlist, Errol Spence – although the build up would be great.
A loss would all but cancel any talk of the biggest fights at 147 so where would he look?
No matter how much money Broner, 33-3-1 (24KOs) believes he brings to fights, and of course he does, appeal wains and eventually fades completely. Evident more than ever as when he took on Jessie Vargas last April in an eventual majority draw, it drew in an average viewership of 782,000; solid numbers for a regular boxer undoubtedly, but a decent decline from his bouts with Porter which peaked at 2.38 million viewers, Paulie Malignaggi (1.3 million Average), or even the one-sided whitewash over Gavin Rees (1.4 million Average) in 2013.
Broner vs. TBA isn’t gonna cut it.
There was a popular British comedy aired in 2004, Max and Paddy, whose opening jingle included the lyrics, ‘Don’t know where we’re going, got no way of knowing. Riding on a road to nowhere.’ The same could be said for Adrien, but unlike Paddy and Max, it’s unclear if Adrien’s even having fun anymore.
Win lose or draw, Broner will continue to be a problem in 2019 but most probably for law enforcement and not any of the current crop of welterweights.