Should Adrien Broner Stay at Welterweight?
Adrien Broner (27-1, 22 KOs) announced via Twitter this week that he wants an immediate rematch with Marcos Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs). Broner suffered the first loss of his career against the rugged Argentine slugger on December 14, 2013 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“…Ya’ll [are about] to see me back in the ring in some weeks,” Broner tweeted. “And I ain’t fighting nobody until I fight [Maidana] again…I’m a warrior.”
Broner was dismissive of Maidana before facing him. He ridiculed the fighter as someone who did not belong inside the same ring as Broner, saying Maidana was basically a steppingstone who would be "easy money.” Broner even said he would "flatline" Maidana.
But Broner’s tune has now changed.
“I’ll give props when it’s due and [Maidana] out hustled me that night, but this rematch with be different,” Broner tweeted.
It was Broner’s second fight at welterweight since jumping up to the 147-pound division from lightweight. Broner’s first foray at welterweight was a split decision win over Paulie Malignaggi last June. While Broner appeared to have advantages over Malignaggi in both speed and power, Malignaggi was able to peck away at him through all 12 rounds, to the point that many at ringside believed he actually deserved the nod over Broner.
And against Maidana, Broner was simply outslugged. Maidana put Broner down to the canvas in Rounds 2 and 8, hurt him numerous times and outworked Broner in the late rounds to take home a clear victory.
One has to wonder whether Broner, 24, just moved up in weight too high, too soon. I posed that very question to renowned boxing trainer Ronnie Shields recently at his gym just outside of Houston.
“If I was in his corner,” said Shields. “I’d tell him, look, you have to be smart about this. Another loss would hurt you really bad. Take a couple other fights.”
Shields said he’d advise Broner to move down to 140 pounds for at least a year or two.
“Because to me, he’s not strong enough to be a welterweight right now. He’s a good fighter. You can’t take that away from him. But he’s not strong enough at that weight, and the guys at the weight are really, really strong.”
Shields is one of the smartest guys in the sport today. In an age when far too many in boxing earn the title of trainer simply by throwing a towel over their shoulder, Shields is a throwback to another era. He’s the real deal.
“Just think. If he’d have beaten Maidana, the next fight would probably have been Keith Thurman. He’s way too big for [Broner], way too strong for him.”
He’s right. Isn’t he? Having sat ringside for Thurman’s last two fights, I can tell you the thud of his powerful punches is a sonic boom compared to the punches Broner and Maidana land. Jumping into the ring too soon with a guy like Thurman would be bad news for Broner.
Still, Shields said he knows what Broner is thinking in wanting to jump right back into the ring at 147 against Maidana.
“You have to understand that Broner is a fighter. That’s what a fighter wants to do. He wants to avenge his loss.”
But Shields said in order to be successful in the sport of boxing a fighter and his team have to think long-term. Boxing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
“This is a career you’re talking about, and boxing is a business…so [Broner should] let these guys beat themselves up a little bit. Maybe go down to 140 pounds, win that belt there, you know, unify that belt, then in a year or two go back up to 147 pounds. Those guys are still there. They’re not going anywhere.”
There are many good fights for Broner at junior welterweight, including the division’s premier talent, undefeated lineal champion Danny Garcia. Shields told me he absolutely loves that fight.
“He can compete with Danny Garcia. Danny Garcia is a really good fighter. It’d be a great fight.”
Shields said Broner’s natural size fits in nicely at 140, but not 147. He believes Broner would be wise to recognize that, and make the move down instead of facing Maidana again.
“That’s the best option.”
Shields knows how to guide careers. He’s trained some of the very best fighters in the world, including legendary champions Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield. Presently, Shields’ marquee talent is oft-avoided junior middleweight Erislandy Lara. He also trains undefeated prospects Jermell and Jermall Charlo as well as middleweight contender Bryan Vera. Broner would be wise to heed his advice.
“He’s still a small guy. He’s got no height on him, and he doesn’t have the power to compete with those guys at . I mean, look, skill-wise, he can fight anybody…he can fight anyone because of his skill. But be a smart guy…take a step back. There’s no shame in it.”