January 19 might just be Adrien Broner’s last chance
Chances, even for compelling attractions, are not infinite because, after a spell, what makes the attraction – the focus of attention – attractive can lose its luster.
If part of the attraction’s allure is contingent upon the belief that he is a top-level performer, at or fairly near the top of his profession, and he keeps losing or not winning bouts which solidify that line of thinking…then interest will wane.
Other attractions will be found. You can’t fool as many of the people much of the time as necessary in order to keep the show humming if the patrons have had their optimism burnished only to be punished for their naïveté again and again and then yet again. I ponder all this as I look at what might, yes might, be Adrien Broner’s last chance.
No, not last chance to secure a pretty big fight. I think that happens almost no matter the ending to his January 19 fight with Manny Pacquiao. However this could very well be the last chance that some of the typical narrative elements to building a Broner promotion can be trotted out because they’ve been recycled for a long time now.
Look at the man’s BoxRec profile and the tales told might make you cringe a wee bit, if you are comparing what actually happened versus the perceptions Broner backers furnish. Bottom lining it, in brutally candid fashion, here it is: Broner has never beaten an A-fighter.
Every time he’s been put in with a B-plus, A-minus or A-fighter, a Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter or Mikey Garcia, Broner has taken a loss.
He’s in with an A-fighter on January 19 and, as we count down to the scrap, we’ve heard that this time is different. Broner came to camp intent on doing the right thing, acting the right way and we hear he’s been working his tail off in Florida. However unless he follows through and shows us all that the talk wasn’t cheap, how many of you will swallow it the next time the narrative is presented?
Hey, if you want to take it a step further into even bleaker territory, let’s not sugarcoat it. Broner is potentially in deeper doo-doo beyond how he fares in the squared circle. “AB” has two court cases flaring up at the same time. The 29-year-old Ohio native is due to face the music in Cleveland and in Atlanta on the same day. In both jurisdictions, he stands accused of giving unwanted physical attention to women. Oh, and right before Christmas, he had to deal with a traffic warrant he’d let hang around in Florida. Never mind the toll these cases have to take on the mind of any sane person while he readies himself to fight a living legend superstar; let’s keep it real and accept that if Broner keeps up these hijinks, he will eventually meet a judge who thinks he needs to learn a lesson and will slap him with a stint.
This time, it feels different. Really, truly, AB has to show in the ring the talent Broner backers insist is there and the work ethic that has been seen far too infrequently by fight fans who’ve invested many hours in watching him work, only to be disappointed that his effort didn’t match his self-assessment or the promises put out by promoters/platform providers.
And if you ask around behind the scenes of industry bigs, most shake their heads and admit off the record that they don’t foresee a maturity turnaround, an epiphany in Broner’s future. Lots of observers who will tune in to watch Broner on January 19 will do so hoping he will get whacked around by “Pacman.”
And hey, maybe that will keep happening, as long as he’s able to dodge Johnny Laws’ counterpunching…Maybe even if AB loses and the promises are proven to be falsehoods, he will be able to keep on trucking as this sort of entertainer. That said I do think maybe this time feels different.
January 19 could well be Broner’s last chance to live up to his potential and not become a mere steppingstone, a cautionary tale and a punchline who some thought would make it to the Hall of Fame but would now need a miracle comeback in the last chapters of his boxing book to get to Canastota as anything other than a visitor.
Michael Woods, a Brooklyn resident, was a staff writer at New York’s Newsday before joining ESPN The Magazine (2003-2011). He edited for TheSweetScience.com (2007-2015), now publishes NYFights.com, calls fights for Facebook FightNight Live and hosts the “TALKBOX” podcast. You can follow Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.
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