I call Adrien Broner the most over-hyped fighter of the past decade not because I think he is a bum. He is an extremely talented fighter who has managed to cash in on his own brash personality and gifts for self promotion. It has earned him a level of recognition beyond even casual fans, with the public at large. In today’s boxing world, that is an accomplishment.
But he has been over-hyped, there is no question about that. When he was barely old enough to drink, he was already getting mentioned as the natural heir to Floyd Mayweather. It was an absurdly heavy mantle to throw onto his shoulders.
That unearned repution gave him undeserved opportunities. In November 2011, he fought for the vacant WBO super featherweight title against non-entity Vincente Rodriguez. It was Rodriguez’s only fight ever outside of his native Argentina. Three fights after losing to Broner he was stopped by an opponent with a record of 22-19-2. In no rational universe should defeating the likes of Rodriguez earn you status as a “world champion.” Only in the bizarro world of the alphabet-soup sanctioning bodies is this so.
Folks with little regard for reality are wont to call Broner “a four-division world champion.” He will be referred to as such repeatedly during the broadcast this weekend of his fight with Mikey Garcia. The truth is, Broner has never been a world champion. His WBO belt at 130 pound was a farce. He earned his WBA welterweight trinket by hotly contested split decision over Paulie Malignaggi, one of the sport’s weakest alphabet-soup champions.
He won the vacant WBA super lightweight title when he defeated Khabib Allakhverdiev. That was a great win for Broner, but nobody should mistake it for giving him world-title status. He never defended the belt, but lost it on the scale–one of multitple times he has failed to make a contractual weight.
The only time Broner has won a belt by defeating a top-rated opponent in the division was when he stopped Antonio DeMarcos for the WBC lightweight title. That was a stellar performance for Broner, against an opponent perfectly designed to showcase him.
Now 27, Broner has proven that he is a talented fighter. But alphabet-soup trinkets aside, he has failed to match the accomplishments of less hyped peers like Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman. He was lucky to receive wins over Malignaggi (I did have him winning that fight) and Adrian Granado (I thought he clearly lost). He got beaten up by Marcos Maidana and out-worked by Shawn Porter.
Saturday night in Brooklyn he faces undefeated Mikey Garcia, his toughest opponent since Porter. He’s talked a big game coming into this fight, claiming it will be his “told you so fight.”
I’ll say this, if Broner can beat an opponent like Garcia, he will deserve credit for it. I will be interested in seeing him face Terrence Crawford, another young fighter who flew under the radar while Broner was being trumpeted, only to notch serious accomplishments while Broner was preening for social media.
The sport of boxing could use a personality like Broner. But ultimately, for all the showbiz aspects of boxing, it is a sport that has little room for fraud. Truth must be shown in the ring. Broner has another chance to do so this weekend.