Well the good news is that Adrien Broner is really super serious about fighting again. No more shenanigans. Straight and narrow. No more games. Say goodbye to the strippers, the sex tapes, the blood orgies, and whatever other horrifying things he did with his time. I mean, he can’t be insincere, can he? No boxer has ever claimed to have changed his misadventurous ways only to not really have changed his misadventurous ways in the slightest, right?
Well, maybe he has changed. Maybe he’s cleaned up some things in his life, found some new perspective, sought out only his closest family and friends, eschewed the extravagance for simplicity. Perhaps he’s cut off the stragglers, the hangers-on, the leeches. Certainly, that couldn’t hurt in the long run. The problem is that it won’t make a damn bit of difference for him when it comes to his job.
Broner will try to rebound from his June loss to Shawn Porter this Saturday night, when he faces Khabib Allakhverdiev in a junior welterweight fight on Showtime. His opponent, who hasn’t fought in 18 months, was picked for a reason — Broner badly needs a win. For all of the out-of-the-ring issues “The Problem” has had, they pale in comparison to his in-the-ring issues. The clowning, the utter lack of offense, and that goddamn shoulder roll have all contributed to his recent struggles. It’s not the bullshit dancing on the way to the ring that hurts him, it’s that once he’s in there, he can’t seem to get out of his own way.
His loss to Porter highlighted everything that is absolutely maddening about him. He stood flat-footed in front of the tough-but-always-vulnerable Porter, and let his opponent go to work. And he stood there, and stood there, and stood there some more, staring at his man while he was being easily out hustled. He threw 309 punches. For. The. Entire. Fight. Leo Santa Cruz throws that many before he’s had his morning O.J. As the judges tallied round after round for Porter, we kept waiting for something, anything to happen on Broner’s end.
Finally, mercifully for the crowd watching, something did happen. In the 12th round, Broner felt some fucking urgency for the first time in forever and actually threw a meaningful punch. He nailed Porter will a nasty left hook and flattened him. Porter got up, and Broner went back to sleep. And now Showtime, the network that has aired as much boxing this year as the BET channel, is forced to air another “get our guy a win” fight. It’s almost comical that just a couple of years ago, Showtime seemed poised to wrestle the mantle of Premier Boxing Channel from HBO. Now, it simply handed all of its fighters over to another PBC — Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions.”
I’ve long felt that Broner would greatly benefit from hiring a new trainer, someone who could accentuate his talents. And for as shaky as he’s been, the talent is there. He’s got hand speed and good power, but lacks the desire to use both. If he would simply stop trying to look flashy and start bearing down offensively, he might be preparing for a far more meaningful fight than the one he’s about to find himself in. It’s baffling to see a guy who is so effective when aggressive flat out refuse to engage.
I won’t use a platitude like “time is running out” for him, because frankly, it probably isn’t. He is a Haymon-advised fighter. If Paulie Malignaggi was able to score a big fight just a couple of months ago, Broner will be fine, too. He’ll get billing, because he’s a recognizable name. He’ll get opportunities, because he’s a personality, someone who draws attention to himself and the sport, for better or worse. But if he fails to fix his game between the ropes, he’ll soon be about as relevant as another notable loudmouth, Ricardo Mayorga.
If nothing changes, specifically nothing when he’s got the gloves on, that’s all he’ll be — a name. A personality. Because lately there’s one thing he definitely is not — a fighter.
Take all the outside distractions away if you want. There’s only one place where the changes matter for a boxer.
And it’s not the strip club.