Who is and who is not an attraction isn’t as much of a mystery as some make it out to be.
Sometimes, the issue gets warped or clouded by wishes and hopes. A promoter or a network sees a fighter who is talented, and gives them exposure and air time…but the guy doesn’t move the needle like hoped.
This issue came up this past week, as fight fans chatted about the promotion featuring Andre Ward, maybe the best live boxer on the planet now, against rival Sergey Kovalev. They were fighting a rematch, in Las Vegas, and some fans noted a supposed lack of buzz. Some blamed Ward’s promoter, Roc Nation. Ward’s people said Kovalev has no fan base.
And the issue is up for debate. Maybe a certain fighter is talented, but his fighting style is more defensive oriented than fans of volume and killer instinct prefer. And sometimes a style hiccup can be overcome, if a fighter has an interesting persona, if fans like to tune in to see what they say, and how they say it. Or, tune in because they don’t usually like what they say, and/or how they say it.
Promoter Lou Dibella is banging the drums for a July 29 fight card to unfold at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, topped by a tasty main event, pitting Adrien Broner (33-2) against Mikey Garcia (36-0).
Broner, the talented but oft troubled man-child from Ohio, who regularly finds hiself in law enforcement beefs and has hinted at suicidality on social media.
Garcia, who took two years off to sort a promotional issue and now returns as one of the ten best boxers on the planet, in the eyes of many fans.
Dibella took to the mic at a Monday Manhattan presser to advertise the superlative nature of the clash, to be held at 140 pounds or less, which will screen on Showtime. And he made clear that Broner, who he reminded us is nicknamed “The Problem,” is often his own worst enemy.
But. He is an attraction.
People tune in to what he says and are intrigued by how he says it. Many love it. More hate it. People want to see him in action, mostly, if one is polling, to see him lose. Floyd Mayweather can and will tell you about this dynamic. It has made him a multi millionaire, a billionaire on paper, he has stated.
Fight fans, some of them, grouse about Broner getting too many chances and ink, but the fighter knows he’s a fascination focus, that people tune in when he rumbles. He touched on the issue during his time at the mic. And yes, he was entertaining. Broner, you don’t know where he’s going to go, what he’s going to say, if he’s wearing a black or white hat, and you must tune in, or risk missing something.
“Boxing is going back to the good old days, the best fighting the best,” the boxer from Cincinnati said. He said he hoped Dibella is one of those that roots for him, and interestingly, this is a persistent theme from him, talking about who does or doesn’t like him.
“For this fight, I ain’t bullshitting…The weight isn’t a problem,” Broner declared. In the past, he hasn’t had a challenge, always, to make him be so serious. But is a challenge, he noted, calling the fight a 51-49 proposition. The boxer said he’ll have to give up a half million to Garcia if he’s over 140 and he’s not about to do that, being that his revenue gets chopped up into too many piles, going to various mothers of his chidren.
This fight, he thinks, with a win, will take him to a place of “superstardom.”
And about those odds…he said he’s seen Garcia as a 5 to 1 favorite. No effin way, he said. He wants to win this one, then fight on the Aug. 26 Mayweather-McGregor undercard, against MMAer Nick Diaz. Yeah, don’t bet the house on Mikey, or “Mickey,” as he calls him.
Broner told us he could have come out surly and such, but no, he doesn’t hate Garcia or his team. In fact, he has love for them, though that will be suspended for fight night.
The boxer repeatedly showed his wit. He said “someone’s 0 got to go,” though he already had that happen to him. But not at 140 pounds or less!
Garcia was his usual self, mellow, super clam and respectful. He said he thinks highly of Broner’s talent, but more of his. No, he’s not SURE he will carry his whole skills package from 135 to 140. Maybe all the power won’t be there. But he hinted that he will try and deliver oomph and punishment on Broner. Maybe, however, people are talking too much about power, maybe skills will pay bills and pay off come fight night.
He said he has noted that Marcos Maidana, also trained by his brother, Robert, was able to hurt Broner, so that buoys him.
But the humble fighter said that fight was at 147, where Maidana can bang. He’s not that sort of banger, he implied.
Promoter Dibella is himself a colorful personality. When a pressman asked if this fight was a pre-cursor bout, and the winner would fight a Terence Crawford, he said nah. Both these fighters are bigger than Terence Crawford, he declared.
Broner kept people guessing, and laughing, when media asked queries. He asked why Nes of Tha Boxing Voice got to ask a question. “You know I don’t like you, why did you get the mic,” Broner cracked.
Again and again, the theme came back to Broner and his attitude. Trainer Mike Stafford said his kid will be dialed and will “win big.” He said they are going back to Colorado to train, where he’s had much success, and that will pay off. There’s no easy ability to find hijinks or get into trouble in Colorado, Broner explained.
Broner also drew chuckles when he offered to fight a media man, a guy who critiqued him and said he boxes well but sometimes is too flat footed, for $50,000.
Bottom line, I haven’t met anyone who is a fight fan who isn’t curious to see how this one plays out. Yes, a large part of that is because both men are skilled. But more so is this—Adrien Broner is a colorful guy, and you, most of you, want to see what he does and says next.