I’ve Heard This Before, Mike Stafford



I’ve Heard This Before, Mike Stafford

Mike Stafford will be missed, deeply, within the boxing community of Cincinnati, of Ohio, and beyond. A trainer to world champs and neophyte tykes putting on the mitts for the first time.

“Coach,” I called him, because we were both Mikes, made people of all stripes feel better having had interacted with him.

I present this reprint, from before the ultra enigmatic AB was to attempt another personal resurrection, versus Jeovannie Santiago, on Showtime (2-20-21).

As I reread the story, I smile.

Because I remember how these periodic chats would go….More than ten years ago, the cycle started… Me making sure not to diss, but also with a desire to keep it real.

Mike Stafford, RIP

Mike Stafford never strayed from being loyal to his enigmatic pupil, Adrien Broner

Because, cmon now, Broner can “About Bullshit” now and again.

But guess what? Stafford never talked shit about “the kid,” not even off the record. That’s saying something. He could have gone off plenty of times.

His life said “something”—a role model is out of circulation, and hopefully that loss can get filled by a handful of persons.

I Heard It From Mike Stafford Many Times, Over Many Years

NOTE: Originally ran on RING website…

Mike Stafford, Adrien Broner

He’s been staying out of trouble, Coach Mike Stafford tells me, and I don’t blow smoke back at the coach.

“I’ve heard this before, Mike,” I told the Cincinnati boxing perennial, who checked in from Florida. “All due respect, but I’m doing this because it’s you, I know from talking to you over the years, you’ve always said to me, ‘Adrien is like a son to me'”

I’m by no means a fan of so much of the Broner antics, but Stafford strikes me as a legit good soul. Before we started talking boxing, we discussed potato salad, because my older daughter was making a batch. “Don’t forget the sweet pickles, or relish,” said Stafford, and Bella could hear him, because I was on speaker phone, so I could type.

This tip came from knowing his mom’s potato salad was the best, and that Thelma Stafford Furr, from Tennessee originally, would add a dollop of pickle.

Kind Words For Mike Stafford

So, bless him, all the wayward sons could use a Mike Stafford in their corner, patient, willing to offer advice and wisdom, but without a side dose of scorn.

Lord knows, the 31 year old Broner, who fights Feb. 20 on Showtime in a main event against 14-0-1 Puerto Rican Jovanie Santiago, has experienced ample scorn the last seven or so years.

Adrien Broner meets Jovanie Santiago on Feb. 20, 2021 on Showtime.

It was Jan. 19, 2019 the last time Adrien Broner was in the ring for real, he fought Manny Pacquiao and took an L.

He got slayed for getting hammered by Marcos Maidana, and many a meme has been hatched in a quest to bust chops on the talented but oft troubled pugilist. And the last few years have been rougher, he’s been too often getting picked up by law enforcement. But now, he swears, it’s different.

I’ve seen the light, that’s been the Broner message leading up to this opportunity, which is second-chance number four, or so.

Cincinnati’s Broner is 33-4-1, 24 KOs, and he is an attraction as much for what he says and how he acts outside the ring as much as what he’s done in a ring in a spell. By age 26, he’d won world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds. Broner has faced a CVS receipt lengthy roster of top practitioners, including Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Mikey Garcia, Jessie Vargas and Manny Pacquiao.

We got the press release today, from Showtime, and I scanned it with a skeptics’ eyes. Been there, done that, not gonna invest much if any into the Broner thing, that was my thinking. And I told Mike Stafford as much, I wasn’t going to be BSing him to his face, and write something else.

I told him, I will listen to you, because I’ve heard enough of you over the years to understand you are real, and have a heart, and love the kid, even when he’s a full-on knucklehead.


Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.