Talent, it's there, it's undeniable.
You might debate the degree, the longterm upside, but Adrien Broner can box.
And he's a character, isn't he? No debate about that…You might not be overly enthused by or find his antics humorous. You might be an old school sort who doesn't care for the yapping and cavorting and such. But the kid has a personality, and that keeps folks interested in his career arc.
And in this age, we can all agree, it isn't easy to break through, keep buzz alive, even if you're talented. There's a lot of content, and it ain't easy to snag attention spans.
So yeah, there is interest in this Adrien Broner vs. Shawn Porter Best of the Buckeye State showdown Saturday night in Las Vegas, which will run on NBC.
It is, I think, the most highly anticipated fight put together by the Al Haymon crew for their various PBC platforms. It's pretty much a coinflip fight, two welters at their prime stage facing off, with the winner, should he perform well, due to get a severe bump in acclaim. The loser, depending on how he performs, could endure a harsh comedown, and need to scramble sort of hard to make up ground in the relevance department.
Broner, after all, lost some luster when he had his chin checked by Marcos Maidana end of 2013, and the 27-year-old Porter didn't live up to his burgeoning rep when Kell Brook bettered him in their summer 2014 tangle. One element of this affair that strikes me as a wild-card is the Broner antics. The kid–he's 25–didn't show up to take calls on the conference call yesterday (Monday). Hmmm…what's up with that? Was he just too “game-faced” to deal? Hey, our questions can be on the annoying side…not sure how many “how is camp going?” queries I could handle myself without going into madness mode…But the reports of the partying, the clubbing, which were bopping around not that many weeks ago…I do wonder about that, especially if as I suspect Porter is dialed in, not being prone to enjoying the hoopla that comes with being a celeb.
You'll recall–especially if you don't dig the guy–Broner went down in round two and eight against Maidana in Texas, when they tangled. Broner was on the short list to become a PPV attraction and this win was supposed to be his final leap into that sphere..instead he had to backtrack, do remedial work, take on slower footed and lighter hitting guys, like Carlos Molina, and John Molina, and guys not on their career upswing, like Emmanuel Taylor…which brings him to here, and now, butting heads with Porter. Porter is better than Molina, Taylor and shopworn (other) Molina. Even carved and starved down to 144, he has more pop in the mitts, arguably, and that could maybe bother Broner. The Cinci boxer hasn't stopped his last five foes, so what if the grinder Porter isn't put off by what's coming back at him, and his intensity and bull-rushes have Broner on the back foot, and he gets buzzed and disoriented? Porter didn't over-impress against Erick Bone in his last tangle, but Bone is a savvier boxer than the guy he was setting to fight, Roberto Garcia, who was scrubbed last minute because of weight issues. The Clevelander's stock rose hard when he steamrolled Paul Malignaggi–but what if Father Time had as much or more to do with that triumph than did Porters' skill set?
Can you see Broner sidestepping, potshotting, having an accuracy edge, a ring generalship edge, in this one? Do you see Porter being a bit too frenetic for Broner, being wild, missing with over-eager tosses? Porter isn't a bomber; I think he might not be able to muster the mustard to check the Broner chin. Oh, and Broners' trainer agrees. He told me that all AB has to do is show his God-given talent, and he will get the W. The two men have met before, Mike Stafford told me, years ago, in sparring, and it went well for AB. AB, he said, was around 130, and Porter around 154, and “Adrien still did his job too well.”
Stafford said that Broners' ring IQ is too high, and also cited his “will to win.” Add to that, he feels a little irked that so many people see this as a coinflip fight. “That fires him up,” said Stafford.
He alluded to the fact that Broner felt disrespected, and that's why he didn't make the conference call, by the way. He will use that ire to his advantage, the trainer told me. Also, Stafford said he's not pleased he's been hearing the Porter crew bust on AB's personal life. This is boxing, and in ring skills will be what matters, he stated. Leave the personal talk for the rumor mill, he said. Broner is a three-time world champ, Stafford said, and why aren't folks comprehending that? Plus, his sparring has been on message. Emmanuel Taylor, and Eddie Gomez got work, and can attest to how sharp AB is…
And partying? Nah; AB has been doing his regimen, getting up, running, treating the boxing seriously. Before training regimen kicked in, would he go out and whoop it up; yep, “he's a kid,” the trainer said. “But any of that talk, that's just hearsay,” Stafford told me.
Porter at 144 won't be able to be a bully, steamroll Broner, said the trainer. “You can't bully nobody and box. The bullies I know got beat up, or they not around anymore. This is boxing, two men and a referee, and the ref don't allow the hitting behind the head and stuff. That's why it's called boxing, not street-fighting, or football.”
Stafford continued; he said Team Porter knows full well how it went when they sparred years ago. “Two separate times, Porter knows what happened, I'm not going to put it out there, they know how dangerous he is. And talking his personal life, it's not going to win him the fight, skills and pop will. I know AB is taking it serious. We covered all the bases.”