If this past year has shown us one thing, it’s that anything and everything is possible whether in life or in sports. Boxing is one of the few places where you can get multiple chances if you have a misstep in or around the squared circle. Insert thirty-one-year-old Adrien Broner (33-4-1) from Cincinnati, OH who has been the recipient of these multiple chances.
Broner has been no stranger to this as it has become a normal thing for him. Why wouldn’t it? Broner became one of the most polarizing figures in the boxing game right when Floyd Mayweather was ready to make his departure. It’s 2021 and he somehow still pushes the needle in a sport that has a plethora of promising talents.
In the beginning, it seemed like an easy layup from a marketing standpoint as Broner had the looks, charm and charisma to light up any room. He was immediately identified as the guy who had his father brush his hair in the ring before and after the fights. Fans were receptive to it and it seemed like the media was starting to buy into it too. His rise came hard and fast with the boxing public there for every minute of it.
What’s mind boggling is that Broner won his first world title almost ten years ago. It doesn’t seem like he has been a professional that long but it’s going on thirteen years already this May.
It was November 26, 2011, when he knocked out Vicente Rodriguez (34-2-1) to capture the WBO Super Featherweight title. That caught the attention of many purists and started to really draw the comparisons to the great Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0).
When Floyd became “Money May,” it was a wave of flashing money, women and cars which attracted a significant part of the boxing public. Along with that, he played the “heel” role so well that it made people want to spend money on the PPV just to see if he would lose. That's a tactic that wrestlers in the 80s used to sell tickets in arenas across the globe. Seeing this, Broner felt like he could do something similar but with his own spin on it.
Broner was racking up wins and people started to say that he was the “Next Mayweather” and “The Next PPV Star.” His success in the ring started to fulfill those labels and things started to really roll for him.
Broner was able to work the heel angle well but it seemed as though that character started to bleed into who Broner was as a person. He started to push the money, women and cars a little too much, and he started to see some negative energy go towards him. His ego started to get bigger and his relationship with Mayweather started to become more distant, until it was no more. Broner started to get in trouble with the law and things just seemed like they were heading in a bad direction.
He seemed to be a lightning rod for incidents, which included sex videos, “Page 6” type of activity and constantly making the TMZ news feed. It seemed as though it didn’t faze him, and the antics kept getting bigger and bigger.
In 2013, he fought Brooklyn’s own Paulie Malignaggi (32-4), and that pairing had a very weird but personal promotion behind it. Paulie’s ex-girlfriend was in the middle of it all and it started to get messy within the public eye.
At that point, there were whispers that Broner wasn’t being as committed as he should be to boxing and that Paulie was going to expose that come fight night. The result was a split decision victory for Broner, and he came away dodging another bullet, so to speak.
What happened next was very unexpected, but it seemed as if life had finally caught up to Broner and was teaching him a lesson. It was December 14, 2013 and Broner faced the hard-hitting Marcos Maidana (35-5), who was fighting out of Argentina. Broner, in typical Broner fashion, was talking a lot leading up to the fight and making it seem like it was going to be an easy one. Broner found out the hard way as he suffered multiple knockdowns and barely held on which led to his first loss as a pro.
Looking back, after that fight, it seemed as though Broner would never be the same again. After that decision loss, he was hesitant to engage, held a lot and only punched in spots. The CompuBox numbers reflect the decrease in punch output after the Maidana fight.
While I was thinking about Adrien Broner, I couldn’t help but compare his situation to the great Hector “Macho” Camacho. Camacho went through it when he fought Edwin “Chapo” Rosario in 1986. Like Broner, Camacho was not taking his training camps as serious as he should have as he strictly relied on his talent. Camacho had blazing speed and always thought that it would make up for his shortfalls in other areas. In came “Chapo” Rosario, who beat up Camacho and took away the aura that surrounded Camacho. The result was a decision victory for Camacho, but he would never be the same again.
After the fight, Camacho stopped being aggressive and was holding twice as much. He understood what it was like to get hit the way he did in the Rosario fight and didn't want to revisit that feeling. By then, Camacho was already too caught up with the fame, drugs and money that came along with being “Macho.” Camacho didn’t live up to his full potential. “Macho” left many wondering how much greater he could have been without the drugs, etc. It's another one of boxing’s “What If” stories.
Now back to Broner, as he once flashed money in front of any camera that was in front of him. He showed up to court last fall telling the judge that he has no money. Broner also mentioned that he consistently looks for assistance from Gervonta “Tank” Davis and others. Let’s not forget this is someone that has made a few million dollars within his career. It was hard to hear and a little sad to see someone being on top and falling that hard.
In comes 2021, and Broner goes on Instagram saying that he is fighting in February and has lost 50 lbs. He swears that he has dropped all of his vices and is completely focused on boxing. The problem is that we have heard all this before. It was during the promotion of the Pacquiao fight where he was supposedly in the best shape of his life. That led to him throwing a minimum number of punches, holding and losing in a very boring manner.
Listen, I’m not here to throw a bunch of dirt on Broner. I am all for a comeback story like the next person. It’s just hard to take Broner seriously because we have seen how this movie ends. Am I going to watch the next Adrien Broner fight? Of course, I am because I’m still hoping for a fraction of the old “AB” to be on display. Do I think it happens, it’s tough to say. I am really in the mindset of “don’t tell me, show me” when it comes to Broner. If AB can get himself together, he can be looking at a fight against Regis Prograis (25-1) later this year.
Is Adrien Broner still the CAN man? He used to say everyone CAN get it: Mexican, Dominican, etc. My question is, CAN he turn the clock back and show everyone why people were originally interested in him? If he doesn’t show up, will this be the last we see of Broner? Probably not, as there are options in these celebrity boxing events in the future.
Only time will tell so we will either get Adrien “About Billions” or Adrien “About Bullsh*t” Broner. For his sake, let’s hope it’s the first of the two.