Supporters of the Sweet Science have a vast quantity of reason to be appreciative of Floyd Mayweather Jr. His transformation from “Pretty Boy” to “Money” while carefully dissecting a range of Hall of Fame opposition such as Diego Corrales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Manny Pacquiao was nothing short of sensational from a purist’s vantage point.
Although brutality was largely absent in the aforementioned contests, Mayweather made boxing against elite names look easy, and whatever bile his critics aim at him regarding his safety-first approach, his talent and dedication were largely unmatched for the best part of 15 years.
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With his boastful demeanor growing tenfold following his 2007 win over De La Hoya where he replaced “The Golden Boy” as the face of American boxing, Mayweather, once upon a time the supporting artist to Arturo Gatti in Atlantic City, was now the fight game’s PPV ruler.
Reality television and preview shows provided extensive coverage of his lavish lifestyle where women, jewelry and cars fought frantically with Floyd to occupy screen time. Bling and bragging were well ingrained with boxing’s recent past, but in the new age of social media, the next generation of boxers were watching Floyd closely and one of those young hopefuls was Adrien Broner.
On January 19th, Broner, the product of American poverty, endured the fourth loss of his professional career when he was blitzed for 12 rounds by a fully-focused Pacquiao. A long time ago when navigating his way to world titles in four separate divisions, Broner, sporting the Mayweather starter kit featuring shoulder roll, hip- hop entrance and a ridiculous addiction to spending, was seemingly on his way to becoming a mainstream entity. A mauling in December 2013 at the hands of Marcos Maidana is still mildly celebrated today due to Broner’s wayward activities outside of the ring, but has his quest to be the new Mayweather ruined him as a fighter?
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Despite a variety of criticisms aimed at Broner for numerous incidents, scrutinizing him as a fighter, rather than a man, didn’t present many flaws when observing his body of work from super-featherweight to 140 pounds. Broner made routine work of good fighters, but once his ship anchored at welterweight where star names have sailed the chopping waters for what seems an eternity, Broner’s wages increased as he shared the ring with names containing a similar appeal to his.
A fortunate win over Paulie Malignaggi in 2013 was followed by the Maidana loss, and 18 months later he received a one-sided drubbing from an industrious Shawn Porter. Some pointed to his size as he was effectively a lightweight chasing purses, but there could be no excuses when he lost to the smaller Mikey Garcia in 2017 and didn’t seem to care afterward.
Where fighters return to the gym to analyze footage and perhaps make changes to their team to enforce better results next time, Broner reverts to type and makes himself relevant in other ways. The blood under his nose courtesy of Pacquaio’s lightning hands was still present when rumors circulated of a potential fight with Keith Thurman that will net the Cincinnati man another seven-figure payday.
It’s almost guaranteed that Broner will talk up a good fight beforehand then take the night off when the occasion matters most, but as long as he appeals to paymasters and generates column inches without actually winning fights, boxing will always make room for a man who consistently claims victories in obvious defeats, then insults anybody who asks him a fair question in the aftermath.
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By trying to be like the man he idolized, Broner failed massively at creating the kind of legacy that perhaps only comes around once or twice in a generation. By emulating Floyd’s style, Broner encountered problems that could only be nullified by a certain fighter, and that was Mayweather — not Broner.
If “The Problem” would’ve studied his most recent foe more and poured his heart and enthusiasm into every fight like his life depended on it, then who knows how Broner’s career might’ve turned out. One imagines he paid little attention to the Filipino icon at all, and for that mistake, he was made to pay on Saturday night.
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