By Thomas Hauser
It’s hard to believe that Washington DC could become more dysfunctional than it already is in this bizarre election year. But Adrien Broner and the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission are doing their best to achieve that end.
On April 1 (a/k/a April Fools Day), Broner (now 32-2, 24 KOs) entered the ring to face Ashley Theophane (39-7-1, 11 KOs). Broner is well known to fight fans. Theophane is a limited boxer with zero notable wins on his ledger. Each time Ashley has stepped up to the world-class level, he has lost.
Broner brands himself as “AB” and says that the initials stand for “about billions.” A recent video posted online shows him throwing his change (bills, not coins) in the air as he leaves a Walmart check-out counter and declaring of the cashier, “He must not know. I’m AB. I don’t need no change.”
This was one of Broner’s more socially-acceptable postings. Previous postings include inter alia (1) Broner having intercourse with two women and no condom, and (2) Broner, half-dressed while purportedly defecating into a toilet in Popeye’s and then wiping himself with United States currency. The video was posted on YouTube with the title “Adrien Broner takes a **** in Popeye’s.”
But back to those “AB” initials. At the moment, “aggravated battery” seems more accurate than “about billions.”
As first reported by TMZ, Broner has been indicted on charges of felony assault and aggravated robbery in conjunction with an incident that occurred in his hometown of Cincinnati in the early morning hours of January 21. More specifically, it’s alleged that Broner and an acquaintance named Christopher Carson were engaged in a series of high-stakes bowling games during which Broner lost $14,000 ($8,000 in cash and $6,000 in credit). As the bowling alley was readying to close, Broner asked Carson for one last bet, this one for $6,000 in the hope of clearing his credit. Carson refused and, as he left the alley at 3:00 AM, was confronted by Broner.
Jake Donovan of BoxingScene.com reported what is alleged to have happened next: “Broner was accompanied by eight unnamed individuals. A violent argument ensued with the boxer demanding that his acquaintance give him back the $8,000 in cash. Carson claims that his refusal to do so prompted Broner to punch him in the neck/chin area, splitting Carson’s chin as well as a tooth. From there, Broner went to a vehicle and retrieved a 9mm handgun, at which point the gathered crowd in the parking lot scattered. Carson attempted to plea his way out of the incident, raising his arms in surrender mode, only to allegedly have been struck a second time by Broner, knocking him unconscious. The existing lawsuit alleges that Broner then reached into Carson’s pockets, extracting $10,000 in cash – the $8,000 he lost plus another $2,000 in the victim’s possession. Upon regaining consciousness, Carson discovered he had been robbed and injured, opting to head to the emergency room for treatment of such injuries in lieu of reporting the incident to the local authorities. The matter made its way to law enforcement – thus presenting grounds for an arrest warrant – once proof was allegedly offered in the form of video evidence as well as what the warrant described as a detailed account of events provided by credible witnesses.”
On February 6, Carson filed a civil lawsuit against Broner. Meanwhile, Adrien had relocated to Washington DC, where he was training in preparation for the Theophane fight. The warrant issued for his arrest had not yet been acted upon by the authorities. Then, strangely, the warrant was downgraded from being subject to nationwide service to being actionable only in Ohio. The downgrade was confirmed to Mitch Abramson of “The Ring” by Julie Wilson (chief assistant prosecutor and public information officer for the Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor’s office).
Chris Finney (Carson’s attorney) told Abramson, “I think it’s interesting that locally, who amended the arrest warrant and why? Why did this rich guy get special treatment? Somebody pulled the plug and screwed things up.”
Then, to further complicate matters, Broner weighed in for the Theophane fight four-tenths of a pound over the 140-pound “championship” limit, refused to shed the extra ounces, and surrendered his bogus WBA belt on the scales. The incident was reminiscent of a June 21, 2012, bout against Vicente Escobedo, when Adrien weighed in for a 130-pound WBO title fight at 133.5 pounds and was stripped of his bauble.
Broner-Theophane was televised by Spike as part of a three-bout telecast. Dana Jacobson served as host. Scott Hanson, Jimmy Smith, and two-time PED-loser Antonio Tarver provided commentary. Hanson distinguished himself early in the going by advising viewers, “President Obama and his wife [are] obviously watching live on Spike Sports.” One assumes the remark was intended as a joke. But it’s hard to know with certainty since Floyd Mayweather once assured a national television audience that Barack Obama would carry his belt to the ring if Floyd fought Manny Pacquiao.
As for the fight itself; referee Luis Pabon stopped the contest in round nine with Theophane still on his feet but taking too many punches, the most noteworthy of which was a clearly-low blow. Kudos to the Spike production team for its post-fight highlighting of the low blow, which all three Spike commentators missed.
After the fight, Broner bemoaned the fact that – in his words – “I’ve been going through a lot this week” (as if it were someone else’s fault) and called out Floyd Mayweather. He sounded like a WWE villain without the charm.
Also, it’s worth noting that the incident for which Broner was indicted occurred on January 21. The lawsuit against him was filed on behalf of the alleged victim on February 6. The story didn’t become news until it was reported by TMZ on March 24. That’s how much Adrien Broner matters in the larger scheme of things.
Broner-Theophane was embarrassing for boxing on multiple levels. The epidemic of fighters blowing off weight cheats fans and opponents. And Broner’s legal situation tarnishes the sport.
Broner, like all criminal defendants, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until proven guilty insofar as the criminal justice system is concerned. But this doesn’t mean that adverse consequences shouldn’t flow from what is known about his conduct at the present time. And it certainly doesn’t mean that he should be allowed to go about his life unimpeded while there’s an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
The DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission is not known for competence. Let’s not forget, this is the commission whose PED-testing protocols failed to detect elevated levels of testosterone in Lamont Peterson’s system at a time when Peterson, by his own later admission, had testosterone pellets surgically implanted in his hip.
The Broner conundrum is also bad for Premier Boxing Champions.
One of the reasons that boxing all but disappeared from network television was that advertisers didn‘t want their products associated in the public mind with Don King and Mike Tyson. Broner won’t bring the advertisers back. It might be added that Adrien blowing off making weight gives the impression that PBC can’t control one of its flagship fighters.
And a final thought.
Recently, I wrote a five-part series about Al Haymon that was published on the The Ring Online. After Part One was posted, I was criticized for not stating in the article that I’m a consultant to HBO Sports, and “The Ring” was criticized for not stating that it’s owned by Golden Boy Promotions (which is in litigation with Haymon). In response – and given the content of the series – I requested that my relationship with HBO be added at the end of each part.
But shouldn’t there be consistency on this issue? In other words, if someone believes that it was incumbent upon me to state that I’m a consultant to HBO Sports (which I’ve done in the past and which is a matter of public record), do they also think that PBC should preface its telecasts with the disclaimer, “This show is a time buy. The time has been purchased by corporate entities controlled by Al Haymon, and Mr. Haymon has substantial control over its content.” And similarly, where relevant, should the commentators on PBC shows tell the viewing public, “We just want to make sure our listeners understand that Al Haymon has chosen us as commentators and is paying our salary.”
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent book – A Hurting Sport: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press.