The Tumultuous Career of “The Problem” Adrien Broner
Needless to say, Adrien Broner’s career is a great anomaly. After knocking out dangerous puncher Antonio Demarco for the WBC lightweight title belt in 2012, it appeared the sky was the limit for Broner. With the win, Broner ascended to the number 6 spot on Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings. He quickly followed up his win over Demarco with an emphatic knockout of Gavin Reese in the first defense of the title. At that moment in time, it seemed logical that the natural progression for his career would be an eventual high-magnitude fight against current WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia at 140. Instead, in a questionable move by Broner’s management, he jumped up two weight divisions to fight Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA welterweight title. Broner barely edged out Malignaggi to earn a split-decision victory. From that point on, it was evident to most if not all boxing fans that Broner was not the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather’s empire.
In the summer of 2013, Broner unwisely decided to go on a rap tour and did not take training seriously. It is imperative for a fighter to live a Spartan existence, and the turbulent lifestyle of a hip-hop star is not compatible with a world-class fighter’s career. Broner took on Marcos Maidana in December of 2013, a fight that completely destroyed Broner’s brash and conceited image. Maidana was underestimated by the flamboyant Broner, as Maidana was coming off a knockout victory over Josesito Lopez. On fight night, Broner was caught off guard, and he did not possess the proper footwork or ring generalship necessary to cope with a pressure fighter of Maidana’s power. He was knocked down twice in the fight, losing a lopsided decision. He was never viewed in the same light again, and was no longer considered a top-tier fighter after the loss. Mayweather beat Maidana in Maidana’s next two fights, putting any dispute to rest that Broner had the potential of becoming Mayweather’s successor.
Having tried to bite off more than he could chew by jumping up two weight classes, Broner then moved back down to 140 to face lower-level competition. His hope was to boost his image and confidence after his stock plummeted from the Maidana loss. Broner went on to record three consecutive victories against lesser opposition, beating Carlos Molina, Emmanuel Taylor, and John Molina Jr. It was time for him to fight a top-level opponent again, and he fought an elite level fighter in Shawn Porter in June of 2015. Broner struggled to cope with the aggressive pressure style Porter implemented against him. Porter made it a rough fight, smothering Broner on the ropes and refusing to allow him room to get off his punches. Throughout the match, Broner appeared mentally unfocused, continuously holding Porter whenever Porter got on the inside, and failing to punch at a sufficient rate to win the rounds. In the 12th round, he showed a quick glimpse of the talent and potential fans believed he had, knocking down Porter with a swift check hook. Porter looked completely bewildered on the canvas, since he had no reason to expect such a powerful blow from Broner. Still, Porter ended up victorious via unanimous decision.
In a gift from his management, Broner was given a golden opportunity with a vacant junior-welterweight title fight against Khabib Allakhverdiev. Both fighters were coming off losses heading into the world championship bout in October of 2015. Broner won via 12th round TKO, against the unprepared and overmatched Allakhverdiev. With the win, Broner became a four-time world champion in four different weight classes, and the youngest to ever do so.
However, in four world title bouts, Broner never faced a truly elite-level competitor. Also, during none of his title reigns has he defended one of his four world titles more than once. After winning the vacant title, Broner faced a virtually unknown fighter of low rank in Ashley Theophane. The promotion entailed Broner fighting someone who was under Floyd Mayweather’s banner, which would presumably quash any beef Mayweather and Broner had. Approaching the fight, Broner pitted Mayweather as an antagonist and someone who betrayed his loyalty. In the public’s eye, the fight was not a competition in the ring, but a spat between two highly egotistical fighters, Broner and Mayweather. On the day of the weigh-in, Broner missed the 140-pound limit, in what was supposed to be his first defense of his WBA junior-welterweight title. He hit the scale at 0.4 pounds overweight, and did not bother attempting to lose the weight despite being granted a two-hour time period to shed it. His excuse for not making weight was that he had outgrown the weight class, refusing to accept that a lack of training or effort may have been to blame. On fight night, Broner appeared to be toying with Theophane, continuously standing in front of him and allowing Theophane to work his body. Broner continued to smile after Theophane landed punches, trying to project that the blows had no effect on him. He eventually stopped Theophane in the 9th round, as he was able to use the weight differential to his benefit.
Once Broner stopped Theophane, he proceeded to call out Floyd Mayweather, who was sitting ringside, for a potential super fight. In response to Broner’s brash statements in the post-fight interview, Mayweather simply began clapping and smiling. Mayweather would not even consider a fight between the two, due to the large gulf in talent. He was simply unwilling to give Broner the satisfaction of such a significant payday.
For the rest of 2016, Adrien Broner was embroiled in personal issues out of the ring. He had to make several court appearances due to an assault charge lodged against him for allegedly beating an unarmed person outside of a bowling alley following a gambling dispute. In one of his court appearances, Broner showed up late and disheveled, resulting in the judge sentencing him to 30 days in jail for contempt of court. Later in 2016, Broner posted pictures on his social media with connotations of a suicide attempt. With all of his out-of-the-ring predicaments, Broner only fought once in the 2016 calendar year.
On Saturday night at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Broner looked to prove to fans and the media that he turned a new leaf and was 100% dedicated to his boxing career. His typical arrogant pre-fight antics were not on display heading into his fight against the underdog Adrian Granados. On fight night, Broner knew he was not fighting a slouch, having experienced Granados’ ferocity first-hand in sparring for his fight against Maidana. Granados headed into the ring looking completely serious and determined, ready to seize the biggest moment of his boxing career. He wanted to fight in honor of his friend Ed Brown, who recently was murdered in Chicago. In contrast, Broner danced into the ring with the intention of putting on an entertaining show for his hometown fans, wearing a ski mask and accompanied by an entourage that included hip-hop artist Kodak Black.
From the opening bell, both fighters fought with absolute raw emotion, and it clearly showed that they were familiar with each other. Broner knew that he needed to keep Granados from pressuring him on the inside, and Granados understood that he needed to have a high work rate and smother Broner on the inside. No fighter was in complete control of any round. Whenever Broner started to come on strong with landed effective punches, Granados rallied back with a significant flurry of his own. This was a fight where scorecards would likely contradict one another. One scoring this fight would have a hard time deciding whether to place greater emphasis on the higher work rate of Granados, or the more effective, flush punches of Broner. Broner had his hands full for the duration of the fight, as Granados continued to push forward despite Broner’s counter shots. Granados resembled “The Terminator,” continuing to push forward each and every round, no matter what Broner landed. Broner had the edge in natural ability and hand speed, while Granados was the more willful and determined of the two.
In the early rounds, Broner was surprised by Granados’ quick aggression, then moving in and out of range to be countered. Broner’s elbow opened a cut of Granados’ nose in the third round, as Broner worked his way back into the fight. The middle rounds were extremely hard to score, Granados being the more energetic fighter with a higher punch output, and Broner waiting for prime moments to counter his attack. In the 7th round, Granados had his most notable moment of the fight, unleashing an electric flurry resulting in several clean head shots. In the later rounds, Broner’s work rate and punch efficiency improved. In round 9, Broner landed power punches at an astounding rate, landing 21 of 36 power punches. The final round of the 10-round clash was arguably the most exciting of the fight, with back and forth action from both fighters. Both had strong moments in the round, landing clean shots on one another as the crowd became ecstatic, all of which made it a tough round to score. The scorecards read 97-93 for Broner, 97-93 for Granados, and 96-94 for Broner. In a fight considered close by most observers, the cards produced the oddity of one judge scoring the fight by a large disparity for Broner and another judge scoring it by the same disparity for Granados.
Broner will continue to be in notable fights on Showtime, while Granados will probably continue to be used as an opponent on fight cards instead of being the main attraction. Broner brings in more revenue for the sport than Granados; therefore, the business aspect of boxing would not have benefited had Granados been awarded the decision. For Granados to have won the fight, he needed to have definitively beaten Adrien Broner, given the factors that Broner was the clear A-side and the fight occurred in Broner’s hometown in Cincinnati. Broner was able to put his talent on display at moments during the fight, but he showed he is not the star caliber fighter he proclaims himself to be. Given the way he competed against Granados, it is hard to imagine Broner being able to match well against the current stable of young top-level welterweights. His star power and ability to attract an audience will allow him to headline more notable cards in the future; no matter who he fights, fans will be captivated simply by his celebrity status.
Adrien Broner is not, and will not be, the all-time great that some fans and boxing writers believed he could be. He possesses some key boxing attributes, but he is not a complete enough fighter to earn induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, or be even remotely compared to the all-time-great Floyd Mayweather. It is not rare in sports that a prospect fails to pan out the way people predict he will, and it appears that this is the case with Adrien “The Problem” Broner.