by David P. Greisman
Mike Stafford has two relationships with Adrien Broner — he is a father figure who has known Broner since he was a child, and he is the trainer who helped guide that kid as he won world titles in three weight classes.
And so after Broner got knocked down twice and lost a unanimous decision to Marcos Maidana this past December, Stafford was split on whether Broner’s desire to seek an immediate rematch was the best choice.
Stafford the father figure felt one way. Stafford the trainer felt another.
Stafford spoke with BoxingScene.com on Jan. 24.
BoxingScene.com: We know that Adrien wants a rematch with Marcos Maidana. You’re his trainer. Did you want an immediate rematch with Maidana for Broner?
Stafford: “You know, as a father figure, no, but as a trainer, I’ve got to go with my gut feeling, I’ve got to go with my fighter. He’s a champion. He wants that rematch. But my heart says let’s wait down the road, but as a trainer, I got to go with my fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: Why does your heart tell you that?
Stafford: “Because I’d rather for him to just take his time and really think things out and see. Just like a fight in the street, you’re fighting somebody and the first thing is you’ve got people saying this and saying that, and you don’t know if you want to come back because of the people and stuff like that. But other than that, I’m looking at this health-wise, making sure he’s right and all that.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think happened in that fight?
Stafford: “He just got — Maidana hit him with a, like I tell everybody, he hit the lotto. He got the first punch in. And the first punch, it made him, it was a tough time [for Broner] to get himself back together. He got the first shot in, and the shot was a good shot. Adrien withstood it. It took him a few rounds, but he came back. Anybody else probably would’ve quit.”
BoxingScene.com: I feel like weight was an issue, whether it was the way Adrien made weight or just coming in at the weight he did. Adrien looked a little slower with his reflexes and his reaction time than he normally does. Did you see anything like that?
Stafford: “No, he just got caught, that’s all. He just got caught with a good shot, that’s all. I mean, if you saw him in the later rounds, he didn’t look slow. He just got caught. It took time to get himself back together, that’s all it was.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you deal defensively with what Maidana brought to the table, if he brings it to the table again in the rematch?
Stafford: “Well, we’ll just stick to our game. We won’t get hit by them crazy shots. You know, over behind the head — he was hitting Adrien behind the head, stuff like that.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you think you need a different strategy this time?
Stafford: “We’re going to box him. Adrien can box. People don’t realize, saying that he stood in front of him, but Adrien, he can box. He don’t get hit like that with stuff like that. He just got hit a couple of times, and the times he got hit, he got hit flush. But normally, if Adrien would box him, and just throw our combinations and do what we got to do to win. You got to realize, two more rounds and we’d have had Maidana out.”
BoxingScene.com: As a father figure, do you think that maybe being a welterweight is too much for Broner if those flush shots are causing that kind of damage early on?
Stafford: “Well, you know, I would say Adrien is a full-fledged lightweight, ’35, ’40-pounder. We had to make him eat to make weight. Most welterweights like Maidana are coming down from 180, 185. We really weren’t actually going to fight at welterweight. We was going to go back down to ’40 anyway, you know what I’m saying?”
BoxingScene.com: So why stay at welterweight and do this rematch?
Stafford: “Because of the fact of what happened. He wanted to get his rematch. If we would’ve gotten the decision, we’d have gone down to 140 anyway. It just so happens that the timing was we had to go up to 147 to get the 147 title. Then we got the 147 title because we couldn’t fight nobody at ’40 or ’35. Ricky Burns, none of them guys didn’t want to fight, and everybody at ’40 had a fight.
“So we was kind of forced to go up there. We didn’t want to leave the kid sitting on the shelf, you know. It was a shot there for Paulie, and we got Paulie, and then we turned around and his mandatory was fighting Maidana. It’s just situations like that. Basically we was going to go back down to 140 anyway.”
BoxingScene.com: So it’s down to 140, then, whether Adrien wins or loses against Maidana?
Stafford: “Yeah, 140.”
BoxingScene.com: Not 135?
Stafford: “I mean, if the money’s there, he can make 135. If the fight’s there, he can make it, but the fight’s gotta be there and the money’s gotta be there.”
BoxingScene.com: Broner was in the headlines a lot last year for a variety of reasons, some goofy, some more serious. Did you talk to him at all about whether that may have had an influence on what happened with Maidana?
Stafford: “No, that didn’t have nothing to do with it. Adrien’s a hell of a fighter, you know what I’m saying? He know what he do. People need to remember, he had 27 wins before that, you know, and is a three-time world champion. There’s too much controversy when people lose, and they don’t see the reality. Hell, this kid, he’s a three-time world champion. What about that?”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]