By Jake Donovan

Adrien Broner has officially entered his next fight – the one for his freedom.

The former four-division titlist made his first court appearance since surrendering to Hamilton County authorities on felony charges stemming from an alleged incident that took place this past January at Madison Bowl in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Broner – sporting a gray hoodie sweatshirt – was silent yet attentive as his attorney William Welsh spoke on his behalf during Tuesday’s brief hearing at Hamilton County Municipal Court.

Established during the hearing was confirmation that Broner is able to move forward with two separate bonds of $50,000 each for charges of felony assault and aggravated robbery, as well as his next court hearing. For the moment, the boxer is not entertaining the notion of arranging a plea bargain in exchange for his freedom or for a separately filed civil lawsuit.

“We have entered a plea of ‘Not Guilty’,” Welsh informed on Tuesday.

Broner surrendered himself to authorities on Monday morning, upon his return home following his latest ring win – a 9th round stoppage of Ashley Theophane on April 1 at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital also served as the 26-year old’s training headquarters since early February, as he traditionally divides his time between local hero Barry Hunter’s Headbangers Gym in Southeast DC and head trainer Mike Stafford’s gym in Cincinnati.

The timing of this training camp made for an interesting chain of events. Broner ended the Cincinnati portion of his training at the end of January, traveling to D.C. in the first week of February. Unbeknownst to the public at the time was the suggestion that Christopher Carson - an acquaintance of Broner for two years according to court documents – alleged that he was knocked unconscious and robbed of $10,000 by the boxer following what he claims was a night of high-stakes bowling on the evening of January 20 at Madison Bowl.

According to claims made in a civil lawsuit, Broner and Carson had made several bets throughout the evening, resulting in Broner losing $8,000 in cash and another $6,000 in verbal credit. Efforts to place one final $6,000 bet was rejected and countered with a smaller amount offered by Carson, allegedly prompting Broner to storm out of the location.

The matter turned ugly in the early morning hours of January 21, where Carson alleges that – upon his exit from the building at 3:00 a.m. – he was encountered by Broner and a sizable entourage. A loud argument ensued, escalating when Broner reportedly went to his car to retrieve a gun, which he pointed at Carson before punching him in the chin and neck area, knocking him unconscious, at which point he claims to have been robbed of $10,000 – the $8,000 he won from Broner, as well as an additional $2,000 already in possession.

Carson checked into an emergency room but did not press charges at that time. Instead, he filed a civil lawsuit on February 6, seeking damages on four separate counts. The matter was pursued by Cincinnati police, with the Hamilton County Sherriff’s department issuing arrest warrants in late March, the delay due to acquiring the necessary evidence, which is alleged to have come from onsite video (though its clarity remains in question) and eyewitness statements.

The arrest warrants came to light when gossip publication TMZ broke the news on March 24, eight days before Broner’s eventual headliner on Spike TV. The original stipulations of the warrants allowed for D.C. Metro police to – upon orders – move in and apprehend Broner, at which point he would be turned over to Hamilton County law enforcement.

Those terms changed, however, when a deal was struck that allowed Broner to still proceed with the April 1 fight – which required his being licensed by the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission – on the condition that he would return home and surrender to authorities.

Adding to his swirling storm of troubles was Broner having to vacate his super lightweight title at the scales after having weighed in above the 140 lb. limit. He was due to make his first title defense versus Theophane (39-7-1, 11KOs), but the belt was at stake only for the challenger after Broner was unable to come down from his official weight of 140.4 pounds.

Despite – or perhaps due to – the storm of controversy, everything else about the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Spike TV event was a box office success. The main event played to a sold-out crowd at the venue, with the bout itself and the telecast as a whole producing record breaking numbers for the network.

It also goes down as Broner’s second consecutive ring win, moving his record to 32-2 (24KOs). He took the time to call out longtime friend-turned-rival Floyd Mayweather Jr., the recently retired unbeaten former five-division champ whose Mayweather Promotions (which has Theophane) served as lead promoter for the event.

Regardless of whether Mayweather opts to return to the ring, Broner’s only guaranteed fight is to avoid returning to jail. He managed to turn around his troubled youth with his in-ring success, but has struggled to avoid the long arm of the law.

However, he and his legal team stand behind a Not Guilty plea and hope for an honored time-honored tradition of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as the court case develops.

Broner is next due to appear in Hamilton County Municipal Court on April 14.

Jake Donovan is the managing editor of Twitter: @JakeNDaBox