By Andreas Hale
Once upon a time, Adrien Broner was being prepped as boxing’s next big pay-per-view draw. The brash kid from Cincinnati had all the makings of a talent who could be a huge breakout star once Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao retired. After blitzing the super featherweight and lightweight divisions, Broner was riding high. His personality often became his greatest enemy that prevented fans from truly latching on. But, then again, being a heinous villain has always cashed bigger checks than being a hero.
In the midst of his rise, it became increasingly noticeable that Broner’s focus wasn’t always on boxing. Whether it be flushing money down the toilet in a video or a rap career that never really got off the ground, Broner’s attention was divided. And for someone with great talent, his commitment to his craft didn’t seem to be as firm as his dedication to being a personality.
We all know what happened next. A loss suffered at the fists of Marcos Maidana was deemed forgivable by many considering the weight jump and the fact that he refused to stay down despite the mauling by the Argentinean. A second loss to Shawn Porter where he did next to nothing until scoring a knockdown in the 12th round had many believing that maybe it was mental. The expected improvements for a talent of his caliber never happened. He remain flat footed and destined to potshot his opponents rather than put his punches together. Maybe it was an adjustment he couldn’t make. Maybe he wasn’t that good? Perhaps his outside of the ring transgressions finally caught up with him. Even still, he was a four-division world champion. The fact that he was talented enough to accomplish that feat said a lot. Regardless of what we though of his personality outside of the ring, Broner’s ability was still head and shoulders above many. He just needed to put it together.
And then the Mikey Garcia fight happened. Garcia would win a unanimous decision and Broner sought to land one big shot while Garcia piled up points. The 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112 scores may have been generous considering that some scored it a shutout. It was apparent that Broner hadn’t made changes to his approach four years after the Maidana loss. The blueprint was out on Broner. At the age of 28, maybe he’d never improve. Maybe this was it.
Well, it appears that Adrien Broner will have one last stand as a contender before he’s relegated to being an opponent. All signs point to Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) facing Omar Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs) next Spring. Broner, of course, is coming off of the Garcia loss while Figueroa completely ran over Robert Guerrero last July and sent him into retirement. It’s not yet known what weight the fight will take place at.
Broner is being positioned as a step up in competition for Figueroa. But, interestingly enough, both fighters are 28 with careers going in opposite directions. Figueroa has been through bouts of inactivity and injuries, but has looked impressive with his fan friendly style. It’s a high volume punch output with little regard for defense. It could be the perfect style for Broner to get himself back on track, as long as he isn’t determined to sit and wait for openings to throw punches, like he normally does.
“The Problem” simply cannot afford to lose or else it will be a problem for his career. After so much promise early, the partying, run-ins with the law and overall lack of focus on improving have finally caught up with him. He’s at a crossroads in his career where he’s going to have to figure out how to improve. Whether it be Broner moving on from longtime trainer Mike Stafford or re-dedicating himself to his craft, something drastic has to be done before Broner finds himself as a recognizable name that up and comers fighters can put on their resume.
At this stage in his career, Broner has nobody to blame but himself. In previous fights, he’s mentioned the fact that he’s refocusing and not allowing outside drama to interfere with his craft. However, we’ve seen nothing to suggest that this is true. Or, Broner is in a place where he cannot improve. The tools that got him this far will be the exact tools that he’ll retire with.
It’s going to be interesting to see how we remember Adrien Broner when he closes the book on his career. We’ve seen fighters like Zab Judah admit that they took their craft far too lightly after it was too late. Broner is in that same boat where he has some things to fix before he ends up being remembered as a “could have been.”
The fight with Figueroa will likely be Adrien Broner’s last stand. How we remember him may hinge directly with what transpires in that ring.