by Cliff Rold
What happens when a quality talent gets plenty of smoke blown up his ass before he’s earned it?
A fight that was solid but of largely foregone conclusion at signing became outright farce over the weekend. Losing his WBO 130 lb. title on the scale Friday by three pounds and change, Adrien Broner nearly saw a hometown spectacle fall apart when he gained over ten pounds by Saturday morning. Reports on Friday had Broner needing to weigh no more than 140 in the second trip to the scale.
He blew that too.
Ultimately, money talked and former Olympian Vicente Escobedo took more to make the show go on after hours of pressure. At last weigh-in, they were a more reasonable five pounds apart, but this was after Escobedo paid the price to get all the way to 130.
One fighter behaved as a professional. The other behaved as if was entitled not to and, given the way he was fawned over on the air, why wouldn’t he?
All of this would be less distasteful if Broner had the one thing he lacks at this point: genuine professional accomplishment.
He is clearly talented, with a high ceiling of potential. Expect bigger wins to come.
They aren’t here yet.
As of this day, he is one of many who has won a hollow vacant title, has two questionable decision wins in his career against Fernando Quintero and Daniel Ponce De Leon, and has three consecutive stops of borderline top ten guys (Jason Litzau, Eloy Perez, and Vicente Escobedo) in one of boxing’s most shallow divisions.
He didn’t win any unification matches. He didn’t face anyone who one would consider near the top of the class. He didn’t sniff cleaning out 130. Take away his belt (and he did that himself Friday), and what we’ve really got is a Broner who, at 24-0, is still in the early part of longer development without the chops to say he’s proved anything more than that.
In the ring after the fight, viewers were treated to a clownish display of Broner ‘proposing’ a lady friend brush his hair. Sometimes, this shtick is amusing. On this weekend, it came off as crass and classless. He beat a fighter he was assumed to be able to beat anyways, and did it with extra advantages to boot.
Hey, sometimes fighters miss weight. It happens. Given the total circumstances of the weekend, would a little humility have hurt?
Now he heads to Lightweight, another fairly (if less) shallow class where his talent might be quickly rewarded with an assortment of vulnerable titlists. The landscape at 135 being what it is, Broner might not get a true test until he gets to 140 (officially). That’s fine. He can get good wins and build his brand. That’s his prerogative.
But no one else should have to pretend he’s done anything in the ring yet to validate the star treatment he’s getting from HBO or laugh along with the antics.
Unprofessionalism isn’t funny.
Moving on, we turn the page back a week for some overdue report cards for more palatable action.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Haye A; Chisora B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Haye A-; Chisora B/Post: A; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Haye B+; Chisora B/Post: B+; B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Haye B-; Chisora B+/Post: Haye A; Chisora B
Pre-Fight: Speed – Khan A+; Garcia B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Khan B+; Garcia B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Khan B; Garcia B/Post: C+; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Khan A; Garcia A/Post: B+; A
Pre-Fight: Speed – Jaro B; Igarashi A-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Jaro B+; Igarashi B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Jaro C-; Igarashi B+/Post: C-; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Jaro B; Igarashi B+/Post: Same
Beginning at Flyweight, both men had their moments in a good, solid scrap. Each was rocked in the bout, but Jaro’s more limited range of offense didn’t serve him well. He made a mighty stand in the eleventh but for most of the bout he was outlanded and Igarashi’s shoeshines were easy on the eye. The former Olympian from Japan had enough pedigree to overcome a champion who wanted to stay. The best story of the year, Jaro’s upset of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, ends with a dignified defeat. He can still hold his head high while one waits to see how long the vulnerable Igarashi can hold on.
Khan-Garcia remains the shocker, and best fight, of the last two weeks. Garcia was a heavy underdog and showed why in the first two rounds. Khan’s superior speed, hand and feet, had him ahead…but there were warning signs. As early as the first, Garcia was landing rights and a sudden counter left. He was throwing back while Khan threw and it paid off in the third. Garcia is a real pro and he’s only getting better. Mr. Underrated could be Mr. Long Term steady.
Khan is the sort of fighter it’s a joy to follow. He shows up, he fights hard, he fights real contenders, and he’ll be favored almost always but with a chance to lose. There hasn’t been a fighter with this many blessings and such a gaping vulnerability since Terry Norris. Unlike Norris, Khan doesn’t make a habit of blasting people on the deck. In the fourth, he showed heart and, while the stoppage was fair, Garcia was gassing. Did we lose a chance at another Khan-Maidana level epic?
We won’t ever know, but a rematch someday would be what the doctor ordered.
If Khan was a drag for UK fans, they got a gem in exchange. David Haye gave his best performance as a Heavyweight and got some people excited about him again, blazing the sturdy chinned Derek Chisora in a brisk, exciting Heavyweight fight.
Or should it read another brisk, exciting Heavyweight fight in 2012?
Along with Vitali Klitschko-Chisora and Marco Huck-Alexander Povetkin, Heavyweight is starting to deliver better fights more consistently. That’s all we can ask. The division doesn’t have to be as stacked as it was in the 70s or 90s. Just make it worth watching and fans outside Klitschko ticket buyers in Germany will come. Heavyweights remain alluring because they are, literally, the best of boxing.
Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao might beat Wladimir Klitschko ‘if everyone were the same size’ but, well everyone isn’t. The Heavyweight king is still the king of boxing, and Heavyweight boxing is still the pinnacle. When the division falters, the impression of the sport suffers beyond the faithful.
Fights like these always help, and never hurt.
Report Card Picks 2012: 37-13
Haye moves into the two spot, shredding Chisora where Povetkin was lucky to get by Marco Huck. Chisora, losing four of his last five, slips out. Novice David Price wins a multi-coin flip to enter in a division short on men who really merit a ranking at the moment.
With ten straight wins (13 if not for a failed steroid test), Andrzej Fonfara bumps Denis Grachev out of the ten spot with his rousing win over veteran Glen Johnson
Kelly Pavlik re-enters the top ten due to the retirement of Glen Johnson.
Garcia goes to one and Khan slips to five with his second straight loss. It wasn’t clear prior to the fight that Khan and Garcia were the two best in class (and they were not rated as such by BoxingScene), and the World Title remains vacant.
Broner exits the 130 lb. ratings but doesn’t yet crack the top ten at 135. He never beat a top five fighter at Jr. Lightweight. He can at least beat one top ten guy at Lightweight before arrival in the ratings.
Igarashi was unrated entering the Jaro fight, but now enters the ratings as World flyweight champion. Jaro gave a solid effort but fell short and his unlikely reign is even more unlikely to ever resume. Jaro slips below the real class of the division to number four and we have a situation where the World Champion is clearly not the best fighter in the division.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
He can be reached at