No boxing nickname has ever been more appropriate than Adrien Broner’s descriptor, ‘The Problem’. The 32-year-old is not a problem for his opponents. He’s only won one fight in five years, and that was via a controversial decision. Broner is not a problem for mainstream boxing fans either. For the most part he has faded from their view in the three years since Manny Pacquiao humbled him. But Broner is still a problem, alright. Adrien Broner is a problem for himself.
The latest outburst from the four-weight world champion sums up in microcosm the struggles of Broner. The fighter was speaking on a virtual press conference ahead of his 20th August bout with Omar Figueroa when he took exception to the situation. “They don’t do Floyd’s s**** on the computer when he fight a YouTuber,” Broner fumed, “I ain’t with none of this s*** that they got going on… Why are we doing this press conference on a computer?”.
The Ohio native was touted as one of the many ‘Next Floyd Mayweather’ prospects when he was a young, 27-0 world champion. Those days were nine years ago now, ending in a flash when Marco Maidana beat some sense into Broner and took his WBA welterweight championship. It has been a rocky road since, and not in the redemptive, Balboa sense of the word. Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia and Manny Pacquiao have all dealt with the arrogant former champion. Jesse Vargas pushed him to a draw while points wins over Adrian Granados and Jovanie Santiago were controversial.
But Broner hasn’t let go of his glory days. In his troubled mind he is still the slick, exciting new king of boxing that was earning plaudits and Mayweather comparisons. Despite the fact he hasn’t defeated a world-ranked boxer since 2015, Broner still sees himself as a pay-per-view headliner whose press conferences should take place on the podiums of grand halls, not Zoom. Arrogance can be an incredible tool for a fighter, it was for Floyd, Broner’s role model-cum-rival. But only if it is tempered with the hard work involved in backing it up. For a number of years now, Broner has felt entitled to one without doing the other.
Mayweather gets the big rooms because he is the greatest fighter of a generation. Jake Paul gets them because despite his lack of boxing acumen, he is an expert self-promoter and a worldwide celebrity. Broner is neither. He is someone who will go down in history as a very good fighter who had the tools to be truly great and squandered them.
A series of legal issues outside the ring have obscured even this view of the boxer, with most thinking of him as a ‘Problem’ first and a fighter second. A series of assault charges and other legal issues outside the ring have led to Broner’s downfall as much as anything that has happened to him between the ropes. Without these misdemeanours it is likely his status as a four-weight world champion, a hugely impressive feat, would secure him more respect.
Broner has a long road to walk if he wants Mayweather or Paul’s level of mainstream attention. A more achievable goal would be knuckling down in the gym, staying out of the public eye between fights and working to become the boxer that made us all feel like the future was now back in the early 2010s. After a career of arrogance and self-importance, Broner must now try to be humble. Even if that means doing the odd Zoom press conference.
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