This past Saturday, I followed the minute by minute drama that led up to your fight against Vicente Escobedo on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
I’d paid attention previously to the process of your making weight, the tweets that pictured junk food, and your obvious contempt for an element of boxing that is a key component in making it a true competitive sport instead of just a barbaric exhibition. I saw how you laughed in the face of an opponent who took his responsibilities seriously, and in the faces of naïve fans who thought you were interested in fair competition. I followed the garish all-day game of chicken on Saturday, as somewhere behind the scenes a price was negotiated for which Escobedo would sell his dignity, his weeks of devoted preparation to fighting in a lower weight class, and any realistic hope of victory that he might have had. I watched you mop up the aftermath of all that with the utterly predictable beat-down that ensued. And I watched the degrading stunt you set up in the ring, apparently luring a lovely young woman into believing you were going to propose marriage, only to switch at the moment of truth to “Will you brush my hair”?
Funny? Not in the slightest.
Here is what the record says: You are 24-0 with 20 knockouts. The evidence suggests that you have the potential to become one of the most successful prizefighters in the world.
Here is what my eyes and ears told me: You are a loser.
There is nothing wrong with demonstrating confidence and bravado. But there are ways to do it while showing dignity and respect for the event which has been built around you.
There is nothing wrong with projecting a big colorful personality. But there are ways to do that without embarrassing your fans and your family.
After one weekend’s exposure to you, I will agree that your nickname works well. You are, indeed, a “problem”.
The weight thing may feel like a technicality to you. I’m guessing you saw your hero, Floyd Mayweather, do that to Juan Manuel Marquez a few years ago and thought it was cool, really getting over, giving the house fighter the kind of prohibitive advantage that too often goes with being the house fighter.
But all it really shows, Adrien, is shortsightedness. You robbed fans of the expected competition. You robbed Escobedo of the respect he deserved for putting in the work to come down to your weight class. You robbed the event of its already-thin veneer of legitimacy. You robbed yourself of the credit you would have gotten for a real win over a former Olympian. This proved only that you cheat effectively. At a moment when boxing fans are finding too many reasons to stop watching, you gave them another one.
And don’t even get me started on your asinine postfight behavior. I would hope beyond hope that the poor girl you embarrassed with your fake proposal stunt was in on the joke. But judging from the look on her face and what she reportedly tweeted afterward, I suspect not. I am sincerely hoping that, when your mother was feverishly whispering in your ear before you were interviewed by Max Kellerman, she was trying to talk you out of that nonsense. But I have to assume that wasn’t the case either. When you rose from your knees and stated that you were “too young” to be married, you couldn’t have been more correct.
But it is my understanding that you are not too young to have fathered four children. I don’t know who their mother or mothers are. If you can’t be respectful to fans, your opponent, your girlfriend, or anyone else associated with your success, at least perhaps you could consider doing some of the right things for your children.
You could begin by reconsidering wearing a printed T-shirt that honors a man who pled guilty to beating the mother of his own children in front of them. He’s not the best role model available for a family man. Keep following his path and maybe you’ll get to where he is right now. I guarantee you, no one in jail will brush your hair for you; at least, not the way you want them to brush it.
So Adrien, it’s pretty simple. You are young, gifted and anointed. You can impress a small niche audience with the kind of act you are fronting right now. Or you can open yourself up to an entire world, which might want to admire the way you fight if they can just admire the rest of the way you behave too. You have a chance to impress an untold number of people, including your own four children. Be a champ, not a chump.
With hopeful regards,
A Woman Who Loves Boxing
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?