Marcus Browne (right) lands a right on Ricardo Campillo during their light heavyweight bout at Barclays Center on June 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Browne scored a second-round stoppage.
Long before Kendrick Lamar was calling himself the “King of New York,” Marcus Browne was the unchallenged king of New York amateur boxing.
A three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves champion, Browne closed his amateur career by winning a USA Boxing national title and earning a berth on the U.S. Olympic squad to the London Games in 2012.
Now a professional prospect with an unblemished record of 5-0 (5 knockouts), Browne is hoping to assert himself in the position that he held as an amateur. Newly christened as “Broadway” Browne, the 22-year-old light heavyweight from Staten Island will make his fourth consecutive start in New York City on Monday, when he faces Robert Hill (1-1), of Monroe, La., in a four-round bout at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.
The show, which is the first in a series of 24 Golden Boy Live! cards scheduled for Monday nights over the next year, will be televised by Fox Sports 1, a new all-sports programming network that launched over the weekend, replacing the Speed network. The frequency of the smaller, club-level cards ensures Golden Boy Promotions’ prospects will have plenty of chances to stay busy.
“I’m grateful for where I’m at and that I’m able to stay busy because a lot of guys sign with (other promoters) and they get stagnant,” said Browne, who is signed with Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) manager of the year Al Haymon. “You don’t learn like that coming up as a fighter. You have to stay busy to learn and to actually learn from the last fight, the mistakes that you made from the last fight.”
The pressures of being an athlete in New York are vastly different from anywhere else in the world (ask Alex Rodriguez or Mark Sanchez), but there have yet to be any speed bumps in Browne’s career in the first nine months. He has been a mainstay on the Barclays Center boxing events this year, winning three times this year over pedestrian opposition, while working to make the transition to a style most conducive to professional success.
“It’s been smooth sailing. They’ve been putting guys in front of me and I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do, and that’s take them out,” said Browne, moments before he left to sign autographs at the Harlem Children’s Festival on Saturday afternoon.
As a 6-foot-2 southpaw competing in the light heavyweight division, Browne presents a difficult proposition for any opponent. Whether Browne can resume the dominance he once enjoyed as an amateur remains to be seen. None of Browne’s opponents have heard the final bell, and Hill, who turned pro in June at the tender age of 34, isn’t likely to stick around for the scorecards either.
Questions remain to be asked of Browne, including whether he can take a punch and whether his focus issues – which cost him a Golden Gloves title in 2009 when he was upset by Naim Terbunja – have been resolved.
“With Marcus, it’s always mental,” said Browne’s trainer Gary Stark Sr., in an interview with the New York Daily News shortly after the Terbunja loss.
“Right now he’s answered most of those questions,” Browne’s assistant trainer Andre Rozier tells RingTV.com. “As the competition gets stiffer, more questions will be asked but right now he’s doing what he needs to do as a young professional by stepping up, starting to absorb experience and putting his opponents away.
“He’s starting to get comfortable in the ring now,” continued Rozier. “He was a bit jittery in the ring but now he’s starting to open up and set the pace instead of just reacting. He’s starting to learn how to be a professional.”
Browne’s experience as a New York-based athlete is thus far atypical. He isn’t living in a high rise condo on the Upper West Side or the West Village, but rather at home, where he helps his Mom out with the rent and takes out the trash.
Born to a Liberian mother and Trinidadian father, Browne Tweets less about jewelry and more about “I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a mama’s boy!”
Browne’s social media offerings sing praises of the food his mother Doris cooks at her soul food restaurant Mona’s Cuisine.
Yet, even though he appeared in a Sesame Street episode with Elmo prior to the Olympics, Browne isn’t willing to adjust to how others expect him to be.
“I am who I am,” said Browne. “I’m never going to put on a front for anyone. Me being an Olympian, they put us on a higher pedestal, but I don’t have to act like I’m a goody two shoes. That’s why a lot of people can connect to me, because I act the way I act all the time.”
Photos / Al Bello-Getty Images, Rich Kane- Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.