Adrien Broner took his second loss on June 20, to Shawn Porter, and the knives and microscopes came out afterwards.
The diagnoses were dispensed, by physicians amateur and professional, by the press, on Twitter, by the boxingheads…they and we offered takes on what the problem is with The Problem.
Me, I chimed in…26 punches a road? Weak volume…pick up the pace, son!
You heard it, you saw it…and you might have seen the scathing critique put out there by Floyd Mayweather Sr. “Broner looked like nothing…He looked like a bum. First he needs to learn how to fight. If he wants to learn how to fight, he needs to come see me or else forget it.”
Not uncommon to hear this sort of stuff post-fight, after the favored man loses, especially such a high profile one as Broner. But that tone, and that invitation to jump ship, basically, took Broner coach Mike Stafford a bit by surprise.
I talked to Stafford on Tuesday night.
“I'm with Adrien now, he's playing basketball,” he told me.
“Oh, cool…good clean fun…a pickup game?”
“Yeah, at the local high school here in Cincinnati. Good clean fun,” Stafford echoed.
They've been together since Broner was seven, you know. He's 25, and yes, still in some ways a kid.
“And how you doing, Mike?”
“I'm hanging in,” the trainer told me.
The loss, it's still in his head. He's still digesting it, making sense of it, trying to figure out what happened, and what might be remedied, if Porter gives Broner a rematch.
He has some ideas on what can be done better next time. For one thing, that aggressiveness that was present when a Broner left hook dropped Porter in round 12, he wants that to be present more often. He suspects that Broner, who plays the villain role well, might now not be getting a benefit of a doubt from judges, so it behooves him, quite possibly, to fight in a manner which more so removes the judges from the equation. And yes, he'd like more volume, and will work on having Broner staying in the pocket, to “rip like an emeffer, like he never ripped before!”
Wise take, in my comparatively inexpert eyes..
So that's in his head, how to tweak the kid so he gets that fourth title. No, by no means has he given up on him. You'll notice, maybe, he hasn't thrown the kid under a bus. You do know that a whole bunch of trainers would protect their own ego, their own acumen, and hint at, maybe, a lack of dedication. Not Stafford…he clearly loves the kid. And so, when he gets wind of a Mayweather Sr. inviting Broner to jump ship, he gets irked.
Now, he's been around, he knows this happens. But the feeling when it happens…not a nice one.
“Opportunists,” he labels those who want to swoop in during this down time, plant seeds of doubt in AB's head, and try to convince him their pasture is greener.
Ah, but there were no pastures, green or otherwise, when Stafford ventures into the hood to pick up one of his guys, dodging the thug and street marketer obstacle course, those vigilant eyes belonging to men who are well acquianted with using force to protect their pride, their turf, their ways.
“What Floyd Senior is doing, he's an opportunist living off his son, saying he's the best off his son,” Stafford said. “He don't know nothing about developing talent, someone elses son. You've got to be loving, caring, go the extra mile. He has guys coming to his gym, coming off the bus to him, I might have to go pick a guy up. I go into the hood, there are guns. Drug dealers, crackheads..They have guns out, they see me and go, 'Oh, it's cool, it's Coach Mike. Late at night, early in the morning. Mayweather Sr., he should be worried about Mickey Bey.”
And but of course, there have been whispers and louder than that, calls for Broner to dump Coach Mike. He hears it, isn't surprised by, but wants to point this out. “I trained the kid, to three world titles, over 300 amateur wins..where were people then? When we went up and down the road, when we needed money for gas and food? Were they there with us? Now they want to say this and that…Jessie Vargas has had five trainers! Right? And when Manny Pacquiao lost, were people telling him to get away from Coach Roach? People don't want to train Adrien, they want some superstar money. And they would turn their back as soon as something happens.”
If there was a DUI, or a fight in a club, would they stand by the kid, try to be that steadying influence, a calming presence..or would they ditch him, try to disassociate themselves from him?
“They'd go the other way,” Stafford tells me. “I been around and I've been there for him, and I'm there tonight.”
In the community, at the local high school, watching a pickup hoops game. They are bonded…And it prods me, and I know that I haven't always considered all the angles when maybe I've flippantly opined for a guy to consider a change in tutors. We don't know all the roads they traveled on to get there.
Stafford got me thinking…and he added, “He's got a gym full of fighters…would Floyd Senior be here?”
Point taken..And I told him sometimes I fall into it, the know it all diagnosis mode.
Hey, maybe there is some merit to a guy switching trainers now and again…but I think we do a disservice to the people, and the story, when we don't consider the route taken to get there…and the bonds of loyalty that formed.
Anyway, Stafford said Broner wants a Porter rematch, but he doesn't think Porter will go that route, not after taking that knockdown left hook in the final round, though maybe if a pile of money gets thrown at him. This loss would be something of a motivating agent, too, he said, as a few of those fair-weather sorts have slipped away, maybe written the kid off, at just 25, as a has-been, who peaked early, or really never was all that.
Stafford says he is, and is sending notice, to the opportunists, he doesn't care for their seductive whisperings.
To sum it up, Stafford offered me a succinct tag to label the ways of the would be poachers: “it's b——t. And you can quote me on that, and tell them. One night, the kid had an off night, and they say to come be with them, that's some b——t!”
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