By Sean Morehouse
Saturday night in St. Louis, young junior lightweight champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner found himself across the ring from a man that many considered a top notch challenger. Eloy Perez had been unbeaten facing solid opposition, though not blessed with the promotional ties and advantages that have thrust Broner into the spotlight. “The Prince” had even become a bit of a hip pick among hardcore boxing types who saw him as a real fight fan’s fighter, a nice foil to the showman Broner.
Turns out, sometimes the more stylish guy also has a hell of a lot more substance. Broner clowned around before the fight, and clowned Perez once the bell rang. The bigger, faster, stronger, more skilled champion played with Eloy like a cat with a mouse until he got bored in the 4th round and put him out of his misery. The double right hands that stopped Perez created the always disturbing scene of a boxer fighting a losing battle with his equilibrium while making multiple attempts to rise to his feet.
As is always the case when a talented young athlete begins to make a splash, comparisons to boxing royalty have started to follow Broner around. The hype is becoming something like another member of his already sizable entourage. Many fans have even been putting Broner into the same sentence with the best fighter in the world, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Just like the NBA found out during the whole “next Jordan” phase, it’s a bit dangerous to start expecting that any new blood is going to one day match up well with an all time great. There are, however, some valid points of comparison. Both are athletic boxers that rely on a shoulder roll style of defense. Both have the speed to lead with their right hand, creating a massive advantage against ordinary pugilists who have to base most of their offense off the jab. Perhaps most notably, both guys have an arrogant public persona that, whether by coincidence or design, annoys the crap out of a lot of fans.
A closer look at the numbers though, tells us that, even considering his age, Broner is no “Money” Mayweather.
Adrien Broner is 22 years and seven months old. He has won all 23 of his professional fights, 19 by KO. At the same age in late 1999, Mayweather had just stopped Carlos Genera for his 17th KO in 22 wins. So far so good for Broner. Floyd had won a 130 pound title belt and defended it four times, making him 5-0 in championship bouts. Broner is 2-0. Slight advantage for Floyd but not all that significant considering how inconsistent the sanctioning bodies are when it comes to crowning worthy champions.
When you take a deeper look at the level of opposition, however, the accomplishments of Mayweather begin to truly shine. Floyd won his title from Genaro Hernandez, one of the better jr. lightweights to ever put on boxing gloves. Going into the fight, Hernandez had never been beaten in the weight class and was a very impressive 11-0-1 in title bouts at 130. It’s quite likely that the late “Chicanito” will one day end up in the hall of fame. Floyd more or less won every round and stopped him. Broner also won his first title via dominant KO, but against non-champ Vicente Martin Rodriguez for a vacant belt. Rodriguez had a good win-loss record but it was built on local opposition in his native Argentina. Long story short, the guy was a local fighter who left home to collect some money and get beat.
Before winning his title Broner faced a stiff challenge from veteran Daniel Ponce De Leon. While he came away with a unanimous decision many observers disagreed with the judges’ verdict. Mayweather at 22 had fought several opponents roughly comparable to Ponce De Leon and had barely ever lost a round. In fact it would be years after the Genera bout that Mayweather would first have any kind of real trouble, in 2002 vs. Jose Luis Castillo.
Not quite keeping pace with the best fighter of this generation is nothing to be ashamed of though, and Broner does have a couple advantages over Mayweather. First, he seems like he might be a bigger puncher than Floyd. This, combined with the fact that his style is closer to the more aggressive later career version of Mayweather than the young stick and move specialist, will win him some fans. Another check mark in the Broner column can be found in the row marked “charisma.” While both men like to boast, Broner tends to do so in a playful, humorous way. Floyd’s trash talk, on the other hand, is often delivered in a serious tone and tends to come off as abrasive and mean-spirited.
So in one sentence, no, Adrien Broner is not Floyd Mayweather. He is one of the best young talents in the sport, however, and he will likely find just being himself to be a most successful venture.