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Commentary: Adrien Broner’s last stand

Photo by Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME
15
Feb

This is it.

This is Adrien Broner’s last stand.

As much as we’d like to push the narrative that losses in boxing shouldn’t carry so much weight, for fighters like Broner, they do. And if Broner is unable to impress against Adrian Granados this Saturday in front of his hometown fans in Cincinnati, this will be the end of the road for “The Problem” as a viable entity in the world of boxing.

You can’t live on potential forever and if Broner were to lose or have a dull outing, we can no longer wait for him to breakthrough. Instead, he will have hit the wall like so many other fighters who entered the sport with expectations that were probably too big for his broad shoulders to carry.

Photo / Naoki Fukuda

When Broner made his professional debut in 2008, his abrasive personality, skill and ability immediately thrust him into the upper echelons of young prospects with enormous potential. Some suggested he was like Floyd Mayweather Jr. with power. Obviously, the comparison was drenched in hyperbolic waters but it was evident that Broner was supposed to be boxing’s next big thing.

But then Marcos Maidana happened. And that was okay because Broner fought valiantly despite being in over his head with the Argentinean power puncher. His immaturity still shined through in the way he handled his loss. But we forgave Broner. His antics continued but his potential was something that we clung to in hopes that he would eventually get it together. Despite being a four-weight world titleholder, he had yet to really plant his flag among the greats thanks to a mixed bag of performances.

A second opportunity came against former welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter but, once again, Broner was unable to excel under the spotlight as Porter dominated much of the fight. It was yet another example of The Problem’s problematic career. In his third attempt at jumpstarting his career, Broner scored a pair of knockout victories against overmatched opposition. Meanwhile, his antics hadn’t yet let up and were inexcusable given his age. What Mayweather was able to get away with, Broner could not because he simply wasn’t impressing fight fans anymore.

Now he faces Granados in what should be a showcase fight for Broner and a third life in his relatively young career. His mixture of spotty performances and indigestible temperament have turned him from must-see television to maybe-we’ll-watch TV.

Photo / Tom Barnes-SHOWTIME

Granados isn’t really Broner’s opponent on Saturday night as much as Adrien Broner is facing himself in the squared circle. His weight issues have come full circle and he has no choice but to bump up to the 147-pound after this fight. And welterweight is where all of the sharks are circling to devour their prey. It’s sink or swim and there aren’t any more extra lives left in Broner’s career. Should he dispatch of Granados in spectacular fashion, he’ll extend his shelf life. A loss obliterates his future and a middling decision victory does almost the same amount of damage because Broner won’t be viewed as a potential threat or, much less, fun to watch.

Unfortunately, Broner did this to himself as his antics took precedent over his ability. And if his skills aren’t making us forget every crude video and run-in with the law, then what’s left? Honestly, there isn’t much outside of that. When he’s winning, flushing money down the toilet is almost forgivable because you figure he’ll make more than enough to replace it. But when he isn’t winning, you start to wonder when he’ll need that money. It goes from extraordinarily promising to potentially tragic in very little time.

Broner is still only 27 and should be entering his prime years as a boxer where the potential and ability finally converge. If that were to happen, everything prior to this could be forgiven. But a subpar performance will allow his biggest detractors to have a field day with his career. As for his fans, they’ll struggle with the idea that their hero wasn’t as good as advertised.

No, it doesn’t look like a crossroads fight on paper, but it is. He’s had two opportunities to lick his wounds, learn from his mistakes and come back stronger than before. He has it in him. But will he be able to focus on getting the job done inside of the ring and leave the nonsense to the rest of the world? It’s possible but only Adrien Broner knows if Adrien Broner will ever live up to the expectations placed on him so many years ago. Maybe he already has it figured out and he’ll blow us away with his performance. Otherwise, we’ll just have to file Broner in the “never-lived-up-to-his-potential” category with an extensive list of fighters who are nothing more than a trivia question on a random board game.

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