By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
Adrien Broner seems to operate in a cyclical fashion. Disappointing result, avoidance of responsibility, a press release stating that things are different in camp, mentions of him ‘finally’ harnessing his talent and then the inexorable return to the start of the process.
Jessie Vargas is a decent fighter but nothing more. For what it’s worth, I had Vargas winning that fight by a round. Vargas was able to get the jab off almost at will and landed plenty on Broner’s too often exposed ribs. When Broner did decide to go on the offensive he generally had success. So why such little attack? His own corner told him fight like he needed the KO in the 12th – a round I scored to Vargas mostly on output alone. Broner didn’t appear fatigued so that’s evidently not the reason. And then he has the flagrant delusion to complain about the decision afterwards! Vargas put everything into that fight and it showed. Broner just isn’t willing to do that. Further to that, his refusal to accept responsibility when a decision doesn’t go his way will ensure that he never learns from mistakes and thus never improves. His team around him must be extremely sycophantic and that only fuels this unwarranted sense of entitlement.
The narrative on the Sky broadcast was focused around Broner’s ‘great talent’. His talent (in terms of it being mercurial) is a myth. He struggled with Vargas in a similar fashion to how he struggled with Granados – that’s just his level. He will always lose to a Maidana or a Garcia because they’re BETTER than him. Okay, he’s a four weight world champion but ultimately he started to struggle when he fought guys he didn’t have a real size advantage over. Let’s look at the champions he did actually beat: Vicente Rodriguez (vacant SFW), Antonio DeMarco (LW), Paulie Malignaggi (WW) and finally Khabib Allakhverdiev (vacant SLW). Solid and capable fighters, no doubt. It isn’t exactly murderer’s row though and the Paulie fight was very tight (in my eyes anyway). Vargas himself had bested DeMarco and Allakhverdiev too but I wouldn’t consider him in the upper echelon of the sport due to those wins. A title is only as good as its champion.
It’s still a venerable achievement and you don’t go that far without being incredibly competent at boxing but Broner’s failure to contextualise just what he has done is generating his own demise. I’m honestly surprised he has (seemingly) so many fans. Not because his fights are boring – they aren’t – but because he appears to be universally disliked outside of his own deliberately generated stratosphere. Although I’ve always thought that about Nickleback and they seem to sell out arenas too. I think the continuation of the aforementioned narrative surely contributes to the delusion too. He is good, but he isn’t THAT good. He isn’t an incredible talent and he certainly doesn’t seem to be willing to go all out for the sport. He’s tough and he has balls – I’ll give him that much. He seems happy to take on more or less any fight that comes his way and he’s never wilted under adversity shown in a fight. Though I do wonder if that’s due to courage or being so narcissistic that he either doesn’t realise he’s losing, or even that he just assumes he’ll pull it out of the bag anyway. It’s fascinating really.
He has attributes to work with physically. Rapid hands, really solid chin and he has decent pop in his shots too. At times it becomes too much style over substance though and his insistence on letting fighters throw as much as they do absolutely baffles me. That’s (reasonably) fine if you’re avoiding everything but he isn’t. I’m just not sure what he’s trying to be as a fighter anymore. He can still be fun to watch and there’s still intrigue there for me. I see someone float the idea of Broner taking on Amir Khan and honestly, I can get into that. I’m not so sure he has much value at 147 as a fighter though. Not in terms of marketability; I mean as a fighter.
I think when he eventually retires, many people will look at his career as a ‘what if he fought like in his early days, what a guy he could have been’ but it’s the same fighter. It’s the same individual. The bottom line is that he isn’t a world class fighter. Could he be with a different mentality? Perhaps, it’s hard to say in all honesty. I don’t personally see what he does that’s world class. You can look like a potential world beater when you’re knocking Gavin Rees over but when it comes to Broner it seems that the world ended up hitting back much harder than he could handle.by