Adrien Broner on the bubble
This Saturday night, on Showtime, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, a pivotal junior welterweight showdown will take place between the undefeated Mikey Garcia and Adrien Broner. By the time this match-up gets going, NFL training camps will be in full swing throughout the country.
For players and coaches, this six-week period till the start of the regular season is a necessary evil, in order to prepare for the regular season. Many stars are secure in their positions and the goal is to really avoid any major injuries. But there are many others who will be fighting for their jobs during this process and are battling for their professional lives.
HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has given the viewing public an inside look at this often excruciating process, in which young hopefuls and seasoned veterans are asked to bring their playbooks, as the coach wants to see them. For them, “The Turk” has come calling and it means they have been cut. The remaining survivors through the rest of training camp and exhibition games remain on the bubble and are wary of their roster spots (even as the season begins).
That’s where Broner finds himself – on the bubble.
No, it’s not as if he needs to win this upcoming bout to remain in boxing (I mean, c’mon; Antonio Margarito still fights on with one good eye) but, for so long, Broner – who some still insist is an elite but underachieving talent – has been given status as a star. Some even went so far as to label him the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who he idolized as a young kid in Cincinnati, Ohio, and with whom he has a scripted hot-and-cold relationship now as an adult.
A decisive loss to the cold and calculating Garcia and Broner becomes what Bill Parcells would describe as a “JAG”: just a guy.
The often troubled Broner, who nowadays finds himself on police blotters more often than pound-for-pound lists, is a colorful character, who can be both inane and profane (as he was on a national conference call last week with reporters) and one who brings about strong emotions from boxing fans. There are still some who hold onto the notion that Broner is an elite talent and can still reach certain heights in the sport. Others believe he’s a complete waste of a human being, which sounds harsh but that is a prevailing opinion you’ll read on social media.
He’s a polarizing figure, to say the least. Personally, this scribe finds Broner amusing and part of the colorful nature of the sport that makes it so fun to cover. Now, if you were to accuse me of laughing at him and not with him, well, I wouldn’t deny that either. Regardless, he’s been involved in some memorable fights and many of his tweets have left me LOL’ing. (Yeah, dig ’em up; some of them are quite explicit in nature.) Hey, it’s just boxing, when it’s all said and done.
Besides, tell me this doesn’t make you chuckle just a little bit. (Hey, “AB” just keeps it real and about the life):
Much of the audience on Showtime will be tuned in this weekend just as much to see Broner get humbled again, as they are to see Garcia display his skills. Love or loathe him, he gets you to tune in and care, one way or the other.
By most standards, Broner has had a very productive career, winning titles in four separate weight classes from 130 to 147 pounds. But before you start reserving his place in Canastota, just consider that he won his first world title – the vacant WBO super featherweight belt – against Vicente Rodriguez, then he captured the WBC lightweight crown from Antonio DeMarco before jumping up to 147 to face the light-hitting Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA welterweight title in the fabled “Battle of the Sidepiece” before moving back down to 140 to defeat Khabib Allahkverdiev for the vacant WBA junior welterweight strap.
Regardless, it’s been a good career but far from anything that has really suggested true greatness. Broner was streaking before he was matched against the hard-hitting and rugged Marcos Maidana in December of 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. What was thought to perhaps be a crowning of a new star become a 12-round beheading at the Alamodome, where Davy Crockett couldn’t have saved him from the heavy punches of the Argentinean. Coming into the ring with his trademark swagger, he was staggered repeatedly by Maidana:
It was as satisfying a comeuppance that has been seen in boxing in recent years but it permanently exposed this truth about Broner: For all his Mayweather-esque shoulder rolling, he is far from untouchable. And, from that point on, he’s been bullied by Shawn Porter and, nowadays, has gone life-and-death with Adrian Granados.
No heart-to-heart, Roy Firestone-esque interviews he does with Showtime can ever change that fact. At a certain point, you just aren’t underachieving or failing to live up to your potential; your overall resume will tell you exactly who you are as a fighter. Broner is who and what he is: A pretty good fighter with some flaws, which, at times, are overshadowed by his cult of personality (for better or worse) but always excused and dismissed by his sycophants and those invested in this career.
But a victory over Garcia can just as quickly change that narrative. Garcia is everything Broner is not. In fact, they are polar opposites. Mikey is as quiet, understated and reserved as Broner is flamboyant and volatile. Garcia went through a law enforcement academy long ago. Broner has had plenty of experience dealing with the law. Garcia is steady and consistent in the ring, while Broner is anything but.
All signs point to a Garcia win. It’s why he’s the strong betting favorite going in. For him, it will be another step in building his market value as he continues his quest to go big game hunting between 135 and 140. It would be a significant scalp on his record, regardless of where Broner is currently. Garcia is looking at Broner as a steppingstone of sorts.
As for Broner, well, you get the sense the higher-ups in charge of his career have grown sick of the extracurricular stuff that surrounds him and it’s gotten to the point where it’s put up or shut up. Either he comes up big or at least performs respectably in a losing effort and continues to headline cards on Showtime and the like. If he goes gently into the night, well, it might be Broner on Bounce or Broner the B-side from here on in.
So Can (get it? The “Can Man”?…Sorry, I couldn’t resist) he do it?
It says here that Broner will give Garcia lots of problems because he is a guy who has fought at a higher weight class, might be the stronger of the two and, like Garcia, is more comfortable being a counter-puncher (so who initiates the action here?) and there is something to be said about having a sense of urgency.
But there is an important variable at play: Does Broner actually make 140 and does he do it in way in which he will still be functional on fight night? His most recent bout versus Granados literally had a sliding weight limit that eventually landed at 147 pounds, a few weeks before the fight.
Unless you’re in his camp, you really don’t know about the physical state of Broner, going in, but I did see this one tweet on Sunday. (You can draw your own conclusions.)
He looks like he's made the weight by smoking crack. pic.twitter.com/YaUsTNXlSh
— Scotty Ince (@scottyince) July 23, 2017
I give Conor McGregor credit. While he has no shot at defeating Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing ring, he is a sharp counter-puncher on social media, as Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors found out:
There is a $500,000 fine for Broner if he doesn’t make the 140-pound weight limit. OK, but is that per-pound?…The “World Boxing Super Series” has announced that the quarterfinal cruiserweight bout will be between Mairis Briedis and Mike Perez on September 30 at Riga, Latvia…The WBA has ordered its lightweight titlist Jorge Linares to face Luke Campbell…Damn, Usher, really?…HBO now has “Game of Thrones,” “Insecure” and “Ballers.” What a lineup. This is like the ’27 Yankees…OK, just to make sure but the paint is already dried out for the NFL Hall of Fame Game, right?…Geez, everyone is trying to jump ship from the Cavaliers…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.