“I’m taking my career more seriously and being more positive,” Adrien Broner told the world via Showtime after narrowly edging Adrian Granados Saturday night. “I want to apologize to everyone who looks up to me. I’m ready to be a better role model.”
Nobody in the known universe believes that “The Problem” is done being a problem. Broner’s half-assed promise to clean up his image and become a more serious athlete isn’t worth the hot air and spittle wasted in issuing that pledge. Broner is who he is and that won’t change until, maybe, it’s too late to make up for a squandered athletic prime.
Maturity may or may not eventually change the man, but, as of right now, Broner being Broner is where all the money lies and as we all know (and have been told repeatedly), Broner is all about the money. That money is to be had by being the perpetual villain, the bad guy in the dunk tank at the carnival that you spend all your loose changes trying to dunk.
One will never go poor playing to the angst and anger of honest, god-fearing Middle America or to the blue collar fight fan, who lashes out at anything boxing-related not culled directly from a Rocky movie script.
Broner long ago gave up the notion that he was going to be a world class fighter. The Shawn Porter loss seemed to affirm his post-Marcos Maidana career path as an attraction rather than a competitor. The Broner business is now all about pissing off the uptight masses and reaping the benefits of the mass desire to see him get bludgeoned. It’s the reason he made a million bucks to fight a tough, but modestly skilled Granados. It’s also the reason he’ll make a million or more the next time he gets in the ring against someone who probably shouldn’t be in the ring with him.
The fact that Broner struggled against Granados will just make the next fight more lucrative for Broner. People want to see him get beat and beaten and they will keep watching until he does. The goal of Team Broner’s matchmakers will be to match him wisely against guys who could do the deed, but probably aren’t good enough to actually get it done. The fact that Broner reportedly had a tough time selling tickets in his hometown of Cincinnati for Saturday’s bout means little at this point because Broner is all about the negative energy now.
Obnoxious viral videos and run-ins with the law mesh with weight controversies and dubious matchmaking to create the perfect recipe for pissing off the earnest boxing fan. If he plays his cards wisely, he could play this game for years.
But Broner wasn’t always about fakery and the cynical cash grab. While fans rejoiced at his loss to Marcos Maidana in 2013, it’s worth noting that Broner fought back ferociously in defeat, showing a toughness and competitive pride that he had never displayed before. In his unanimous decision loss to Shawn Porter in 2015, after sleepwalking for much of the fight, he closed the show in a big way by dropping the usually durable former champ in the final round. There was also the 2012 virtuoso performance against Antonio DeMarco that showcased what a Broner at full capacity could do.
Broner could’ve gone the “legit” route in boxing and he may or may not have succeeded in winning over the critics, who were there from day one, even before he cranked up the antics. But he drifted over to the easier route because, well, it’s just much simpler (and more fun to a twenty-something kid) to poke the stiff-shirts with a stick and then laugh all the way to the bank.
Writer, former fight manager, and friend of The Boxing Tribune, Charles Farrell, once compared Broner to “a psyche ward patient with a cardboard crown and a handful of ripped up newspaper, proclaiming himself a wealthy king,” and that is a fair assessment. But Broner’s delusions have pushed him into a lucrative subsection of the boxing business where all he has to do to make a buck is act up and keep himself as safe as possible.
And every time some boxing “purist” gets his feathers ruffled by Broner’s antics or his assault on the gentlemanly boxing code of honor, a cash register goes off and there’s more money in the till for Broner.
One of the last sure-fire ways to make money on the American boxing scene these days is to play the bad guy in desperate need of a comeuppance. And Adrien Broner was born to play that part.