by Cliff Rold
Adrien Broner did what he came to do on paper. He jumped two weight classes, won a fight he was supposed to, and left with a lightly regarded belt.
Off paper, he had a far more difficult time with Malignaggi than a fighter with his level of hype should have. Broner gets touted as the future and is generating the sort of buzz and TV ratings to make TV executives hopeful that he will be. He possesses a lot of the physical tools one would want to see.
But, in the ring, he’s been a little bit lucky to get wins over Fernando Quintero and Daniel Ponce De Leon. Last Saturday, he appeared from these eyes to have solidly earned the win over Malignaggi, but it was far from impressive.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Malignaggi B+; Broner A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Malignaggi C-; Broner A/Post: C-; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Malignaggi B; Broner B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Malignaggi B+; Broner A/Post: B+; B
Broner, showing off the exceptional speed and punching accuracy that has been evident in his recent outings, did more than enough to win at least eight rounds last weekend. Malignaggi deserves credit for making many of them close. While he didn’t land a ton to the head of note, Malignaggi scored almost at will to the body. Had he better defended against the Broner right, he might have done more than that.
He didn’t, but Malignaggi did show he could take it. Malignaggi has always had guts and a chin to go with his quick hands. There were moments where he looked stunned but he weathered them well. He performed far better versus Broner than he did as a younger man against Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, and Ricky Hatton.
It was Paulie’s best performance, based on foe quality, since his two fights with Juan Diaz. Does that put Broner close to the Diaz’s of the world than the Cotto’s and Hatton’s? Time will tell. It’s not bad company even if the “Baby Bull” is the ceiling.
Broner didn’t appear to have anywhere near the pop at Welterweight, even against a man who was really about the same size as him, as he’s had against smaller men. He also showed signs of a fighter who might be a candidate for a Tyson-esque meltdown one day.
Broner has gotten far too big a free pass for some of his antics last weekend. No, this is not a reference to coming into the ring with one of the worst live flows ever attempted. It is also not a comment on his silly post-fight interview.
That’s all showbiz. Take it or leave it. He’s talking people into the building and it’s working.
No, this is about throwing punches behind the back, over the head, and what appeared to be a kick/knee attempt at one point. Pernell Whitaker used to do some wild stuff in the ring, much of it mean spirited. It seldom carried the look of frustration Broner seemed to give off.
In a word, Broner was too often unprofessional in the ring last weekend. The knee/kick moment, regardless of if it was some sort of reaction to a Malignaggi clinch, was especially classless and the referee not taking a point is baffling. If that’s how Broner reacts to the barest adversity, what happens when his people quit matching him with safety gloves?
Broner has a choice to make about where his career goes from here. Does he stay at Welterweight? Does he return to Lightweight?
Along with those, he’ll also have to choose what kind of pro he really wants to be. Yes, he’s got three belts already but one he picked up vacant off a nobody and now he has one against a fighter who most saw as mid-level at Welterweight at best. It’s a hollow stat.
We await the substance of a young career. The promise remains. Skeptics have fuel for their fire.
As to Malignaggi, he’s campaigning for a rematch. Even if it doesn’t happen, he kept himself relevant for another payday. He proved, along with Broner, that the right personalities can promote a fight no one knew they wanted and then put on a good show. At the least, last Saturday was good for business and Paulie showed he’s still all business in the ring.
Report Card Picks 2013: 27-15
Super Middleweight: Sakio Bika gets a little bump off his belt victory on the undercard of Broner-Malignaggi.
Welterweight: Broner cracks the top ten, pushing everyone else down a spot and knocking Ruslan Provodnikov from the ratings for the time being. Broner also remains rated at Lightweight while he determines which division he will continue in.
Jr. Bantamweight: Suriyan Sor Rungvisai exits the top ten due to clear evidence of a move up the scale. Carlos Cuadras returns to the top ten.
The full results of note, more moves, and the total impact on the ratings are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]