by Tim Harrison
Pound-for-pound king is a mythical title that is thrown around in describing the best fighters in the sport. The torch is passed from fighter to fighter and from generation to generation. The current pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr., turns 36 next Sunday and he’s started showing signs of aging, however so slightly. He won’t be around forever, and the search for his successor is ongoing. Adrien Broner, who dismantled Welshman Gavin Rees on Saturday night, has the skills and hype surrounding him to step into that role. He’ll be the first to tell you, and Floyd Mayweather will be the next.
Broner is the type of guy who is loved or hated. He is fast, powerful, skilled, and talks a big game. He’s an athletically-gifted offensive fighter with no objection to standing in the pocket and slugging it out with his opponents, and he’ll dance and clown in the face of his opponent at the worst times. Gavin Rees was just fast and tenacious enough to take advantage of a few opportunities when Broner was fooling around in the ring. And for all his speed, athleticism, and employment of the Mayweather defense, Broner gets hit far too often. It’s too early to tell if Broner carries inferior opponents for the sake of paying fans and viewers, or his youth is working against him. But against a short and stubby Gavin Rees, Adrien Broner was either unable or uninterested in throwing anything more than pawing jabs over the first two rounds. As Rees showed over the first two rounds, and as Daniel Ponce De Leon showed in their 2011 junior lightweight contest, Broner can go into battle and look more Clark Kent than Superman.
The blueprint for a quick increase in box office muscle written by the aforementioned Mayweather looks to be in play with Broner. He fights a lot like a young Mayweather; hands high at a distance, shoulder roll defense in close, and likes to lead with his right hand. It is out of the ring and in his post-fight interviews where Broner’s plan will sink or swim. Like Mayweather, Broner talks trash about his opponents, and thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. During his post-fight interviews, he may as well ask his own questions. Many of his answers to an eyelash-batting and gushing Max Kellerman were so far off topic that one had to wonder whether or not he didn’t have a set of bullet points ready to spit out, regardless of the question. To the trained eye, Adrien Broner is trying too hard to be like Floyd.
But HBO is on board the Adrien Broner bandwagon. Max Kellerman could hardly hide his broner (an unintentional male-inspired boner, in this context) for Adrien Broner. At times when Broner looked less than stellar, Kellerman talked him up like he was walking on water. And in the media, there are just as many ready to anoint Broner the chosen one as there are standing ready with pitchforks and torches, ready to burn down anything he does.
The problem with the momentum of the Broner bandwagon isn’t whether Broner can beat anyone out there or not. The problem lies in the quality of the plan to the top of the mountain and the public’s willingness to see it again. Duplicating Mayweather’s villainous persona, however slightly different he may be, has come off as gimmicky and off-putting at these early stages.
But as I’ve said, it is early on in Adrien Broner’s career. He’s only 23 years of age and he’s got plenty of time to develop his game, both in and out of the ring. There are those ready to place the gilded crown upon his head, and those ready to slip a whoopee cushion onto the throne before he sits down. The fact remains, however, that Adrien Broner is talented and fun to watch. And if he doesn’t try too hard to be an asshole, his rise to the top will happen eventually.
You can email Tim at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TheTimHarrison.