The War Report: Time longer than rope (Week 30, 2017)
“First of all, I gotta thank God. I gotta thank all the people that came to see me lose, all the people that came to see me win, ’cause, at the end of the day, y’all are the reason I make all this money.”
Even in defeat, Adrien Broner can still stir a reaction when a microphone is in front of him. The announced 12,084 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York didn’t take Broner’s opening remark too kindly in the post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray. A majority of them were on his side during the fight but after being outworked, outsmarted and out-hustled by Mikey Garcia for 12 rounds, the passive comment mirrored the effort made by Broner and, maybe with that in mind, it rubbed the paying audience the wrong way, having to hear it from this spiritual profiteer. Despite the words striking a nerve, it was the mere truth of the matter (at least he thanked them) but, quickly, Broner would deliver a self-serving description of the fight and later spew more false sensibility that is powered by his own vanity.
“It was a good fight,” said Broner. “Shit – It was Tom and Jerry - I had to catch the mouse.”
That was a gross description of what had just transpired and considering he felt disrespected by the opening odds as a 5-to-1 underdog when this peculiar match-up was announced, this cheeky breakdown of the fight was a disrespect to the effort given by Garcia, who was close to doubling Broner’s punch output in the fight (783-400). Garcia, the current WBC lightweight titleholder, meeting Broner at 140 pounds for this one, had the disposition of being the bigger man in the fight and his fundamental combinations where precise enough to find Broner’s body and head often, as well as present tight windows that the counterpuncher couldn’t find a way through.
This wasn’t the first time Broner gave his thoughts immediately after a loss on television. In fact, Broner, 33-3 (24), has done it all three times, and has relayed the same message in all of them: He won’t just reflect on the fact that he’ll take a loss like a man; he’ll also reassure everyone that he’ll be OK. Yet, he had never done so before in front of Gray, who sometimes has a knack of rubbing the fighter the wrong way. At least that’s what seemed to happen when the latter started a question with, “They said it’s a do-or-die fight…”
“They said it’s ‘a do-or-die fight,” interrupted Broner. “If I fight tomorrow, everybody in this motherfucker gonna still come see me. At the end of the day, listen: I’m still ‘AB.’ I’m still ‘About Billions.’ I’m still the ‘Can Man.’ I’m still a fighting motherfucker and anybody still can get it.”
About 40 hours earlier and 7,370 miles away in Shanghai, China, Zou Shiming gave an emotional speech to the crowd after suffering an 11th round knockout to Sho Kimura. It was the 36-year-old’s first venture as a promoter and, while losing the WBO flyweight title wasn’t part of the plan, Zou expressed his overall goal is being accomplished, even though the teary message revealed doubt of his own career.
“I have been boxing for 22 years. Boxing has never been understood by others in China. I have won the world title and won two Olympic gold medals. Why do I still stand here?” Zou said. “Although I lost, I drew attention to the boxing game to millions of people in China. I think it was worth it. Though I failed to win, I hope I can let more people understand boxing. Many people still misunderstand the sport. I hope I can change their mindset through my work. I don’t rule out retirement but personally I don’t want to say goodbye.”
A few days later, Zou further reflected on his career and sent out the following on his social media: “I believe in fate but am not resigned to it. I will go on fighting until my last breath. A man must keep fighting to recover what he has lost.”
Twenty-two hours after Broner’s loss, and 2,816 miles away in Bakersfield, California, Victor Ortiz scored a knockout win over Saul Corral on FS1 on Sunday night, in an attempt to jumpstart a career that had faltered. On the Premier Boxing Champions card, he was described being done with acting and all about boxing now, after a 15-month layoff, but that might not be as true regarding acting being done with him, and boxing always being there for him. Ortiz, 30, seemed grounded as a fighter, and humbled as a new father, who has seen bigger crowds before him but is more than content with his current station. Much like his quirky post-fight interviews, Ortiz, who couldn’t hide his teenage-like character on Sunday night, presents television-friendly skills that help create what seems to be guaranteed drama each time out. A cruel gift to for a fighter who had already proclaimed he doesn’t need to get beat up for a living.
Going back to Brooklyn: For some reason, Broner offered Garcia a rematch after saying nothing has really changed and, once realizing that Gray was getting the better of him in the interview, he gave Garcia his just due before reminding everyone what he’s already done. He fought the better fight tonight,” said Broner. “He was the better man tonight and it’s OK. At the end of the day, I’m still a four-time world champion in four different weight classes and, when I’m done with the sport, I’m going to be in the history books.”
“Time is longer than rope” is an old African proverb that, to put simply, encourages one to be patient and that the hard work put in, while waiting for your time to come, will be paid off, lasting forever. It can also be interpreted in other ways like: One can use a rope to hang me today but, in time, your beliefs will be seen as wrong and I will be redeemed. As it relates to boxing, think of each and every fighter given a predestined rope signifying the length of their boxing careers. No matter how unfair it seems, some are given more rope than others to work with but sometimes, metaphorically speaking, that fighter can tie off a knot and abruptly hang himself with it. Some fighters aren’t given much rope at all having only one shot to actually make it, and plenty of other aged fighters have tragically gone on to try and grasp a rope that is no longer there.
Early in his career, Broner’s rope seemed strong, as he powered through the 130 and 135-pound classes. Then in 2013, the brash boxer-puncher from Cincinnati, Ohio, made a decision to fast forward his process and jump to welterweight without seeing 140 pounds. An endearing quality for a fighter to have such a thirst for challenge but, ultimately, it was an impatient move fueled by the desire for bigger paydays. (Even then, he managed to turn down a fight with Manny Pacquiao. after losses to Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter at welterweight.) On the other hand, Garcia was forced to be patient, once making a resolution to split with ex-promoter Top Rank. It took about two-and-a-half years off his prime and, while this was no heroic endeavor to do what he thought was right, Garcia, 37-0 (30), was disciplined enough to keep himself sharp while waiting for a ripe opportunity. As for Broner, who just celebrated his 28th birthday, his boxing career isn’t nearing its end and that’s a good thing, considering the sport strays from outside the ring issues (and vice versa).
The idea of a “new Adrien Broner” was something pushed in the lead-up to this fight and, while he was in shape physically, his fighting mentality wasn’t all that sharp. Perhaps that’s a credit to Garcia’s performance but, regardless, priorities must be realized for a fighter who needed an incentive to make weight. Seeing as how Broner has lost the biggest fights of his career, fans would remember this over Broner’s belt count in an inflated era of titles. Maybe a bigger change is on the horizon for Broner because what’s happening now doesn’t seem to be working for him in the ring. Evidently, it isn’t producing results. Something needs to happen for a fighter who says “It’s OK” after each big loss – especially one who wants to get paid – because, once the customers have had enough, they won’t show up to see Broner display his talent. They will go to see him lose – and being the B-side fighter doesn’t pay as well.
Please click here to continue reading The War Report: Time longer than rope (Week 30, 2017).