Adrien Broner made a big name for himself in the boxing community circa 2013 for really no other reason besides the premature comparisons to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his antics outside (and sometimes inside) the ring. Broner has a kind of flashiness and arrogance that makes you want to roll your eyes (like when he got on one knee to ask his girl to brush his hair) but still watch him, even if it’s to see him lose.
It’s a strategy that worked for his “Big Bro” and former No. 1 pound-for-pound king, Mayweather. Most fans can recall a time when Floyd was just “Money Mayweather”—flashy, cocky, arrogant, but difficult to not pay attention to. Round By Round Boxing’s Brandon Glass wrote on the history and complexities of the “bad guy” persona in boxing and how Mayweather’s image as a black fighter and villain has been one of the most successful marketing strategies in sports history.
The difference between Broner and Mayweather is that Mayweather has been able to back up every ounce of trash-talk with a win, while Broner has not. Whereas Mayweather deliberately created a public persona, the character we see Broner play on TV seems like a 24/7 gig.
Broner’s antics seem to do him the most harm. We’ve seen him underestimate dangerous opponents like Marcos Maidana and pay the price. It’s not that Broner has to be humble outside the ring; he needs to be focused and humble going in it.
Even Mayweather, acting as Broner’s unofficial mentor, has repeatedly said he’s talked to Broner about when to turn the antics “on” and when to turn them off. And hey, Mayweather is 49-0–he may want to take his advice.
The one positive thing that came out of Broner’s loss to Maidana was a climate change in boxing where undefeated records in the Mayweather Era became arbitrary. The boxing media originally built Broner up to be the next Floyd based on him also being undefeated and having what they believed to be an identical fighting style and set of capabilities.
However, the Broner vs. Maidana fight was an important reminder that it’s not just about how many fights you’ve won–it’s about who you’ve fought. At the time Broner had simply not fought elite opponents to prove himself worthy of comparisons to any legendary fighters.
So with all this said, can Broner still be a star in boxing? I answer this with a hesitant yes. Why hesitant? Because he has the personality and charisma to keep people talking about him, but his success in the ring completely depends on how hungry he is, and his willingness to focus and dedicate himself to his craft.
The “problem” with Broner is that he has too much natural talent for his own good. I find that athletes, especially fighters, with natural talent tend to be the most lazy when it comes to perfecting their craft. Chances are that growing up in the gym others praised him for his natural abilities, and that was thought to be enough. But one can only rely on natural talent for so much. Someone without natural talent, who puts in more work, can easily beat the guy hoping to win off his natural gifts alone.
With focus, rededication, and a dose of obsession for the sport, Broner can have a respectable position in boxing in the next two years. He really needed to win that fight against Porter, and no one is considering his fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev to be an indicator of where is career is heading.
Moving forward though, Broner needs to demonstrate his skills in the ring with quality opponents in order to gain back the respect of the boxing community.
Broner can still be a star. The only limitation is himself.