Thursday, March 5, 2015

A New Beginning for Broner

He won his first world title in the junior lightweight division at the age of 22. In a span of 18 months he added two more world titles in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. At the age of 23 he was an undefeated three division world champion, and at 24 he showed the world he had just as much guts as he did skill in the only loss of his outstanding career. If you didn't know the name of the fighter I'm describing there's no doubt you would be impressed with his accomplishments, and chances are you would tune in to his next fight. His fan friendly style of standing and delivering with concussive power from the pocket, taking just as good as he gives, would without question earn your respect if not create an instant fan.

The problem (no pun intended) is you do know his name, and it's synonymous with a string of abhorrent acts outside of the ring that detract from his excitement within. This Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Adrien Broner (29-1) will have an opportunity to help bring boxing back to the forefront of the sports world, when he takes on John Molina Jr. live on NBC. There is no shortage of talent when it comes to Broner's boxing ability. Though he is constantly compared to Floyd Mayweather, it's the differences between the two pugilists that make Broner's fights so compelling.  He is an offensive minded fighter who looks for the knockout from round one to round twelve. He is always economical with his punches, but when he throws he's accurate. Each time he lands you could find yourself on the canvas wondering how you got down there. His shoulder roll defense has just enough holes in it to give each of his fights the opportunity to be an instant classic. Even if you tuned in to his fights in hopes that he would be pummeled by the opposition, you would be classified as a liar if you said that you walked away unimpressed with the quality of the fight.

Adrien Broner will take on John Molina Jr. Saturday night live on NBC
Despite of the aforementioned facts most boxing fans, aside from most African-Americans and Cincinnati residents, have a unmistakable disdain for Broner. In fact, ask a boxing fan about Adrien Broner and 80% of them would respond negatively with a laundry list of things that have absolutely nothing to do with boxing. The negative cloud follows Broner so closely that he was ridiculed for weeks by the public for using a "racial slur" after one of his fights when he distastefully referred to his opponent as a "Mexican" (pardon the sarcasm). Those same fans will express absolute joy when it comes to Broner actually boxing, but it comes at the expense of him being knocked down twice and dropping a unanimous decision to Marcos Maidana. Broner hasn't helped his case by doing things like flushing money down the toilet, and releasing a sex tape. But who are we to judge a man for what he does with money that he has earned? And if a man wants to record himself having sex with two women...well I can't really defend him on that one. 

The fact of the matter is that we are all human, and we all make mistakes. My thought process has always been that when discussing a fighter's value, he should be judged solely on his in ring ability. In my humble, Adrien Broner has the potential to lead the next generation of boxing's best into the future of the sport. Recently he has shown a maturity and focus we have yet to see in his previous 30 fights. The only videos of Boner that can be found on YouTube show a more sedated fighter that at this point in his career understands the balance of being an entertainer and a skilled boxer.

Though his accomplishments resemble that of a veteran, Broner is just entering into his prime years in the sport. The timing of his network television debut and opponent couldn't be better. Broner once gave us our money's worth when he fought Gavin Rees, so a tilt with the all-action John Molina Jr. could be a fight of the year candidate. For most current boxing fans an affinity for Adrien Broner is  too far gone, but Saturday night presents an opportunity for a new beginning. Paired with the chance to fight on network television is the opportunity for Broner to expose his bounty of talent to a new demographic; who just may be so impressed with his talent that they become fans before they allow the out of the ring antics he's become known for to overshadow the ability that makes him so special inside the ropes.

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