When Adrien "Da Problem" Broner steps into the ring with WBC lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco on Nov. 17 on HBO at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, he will be looking to win his second world title in as many weight classes.
For Broner, the former WBO super featherweight titleholder, to win his second world title at only 23 would be quite the accomplishment. His self-professed idol, Floyd Mayweather Jr., didn’t win his second world title until he was 25.
Before the DeMarco fight was made, there were rumors that Broner would make the leap to welterweight to take on WBC interim titleholder Robert Guerrero, but that fight never materialized.
“It’s a joke. I could see if there was nobody in his weight class but he got multiple guys in that weight class, he could fight all them guys up there,” said Adrien Broner’s trainer Mike Stafford about a potential fight with Guerrero.
Stafford, who has trained Broner since he was six years old, believes that Guerrero calling out his fighter was a desperate attempt for him to earn a large payday and nothing more.
“He knows Adrien is a big draw as far as the purse and he’s been on HBO more than he has, so he figured he could get some money,” Stafford said. “He’s scared to fight a guy at 147, he just wants the money.”
In his last outing against Vicente Escobedo, Broner lost his title, but it wasn’t in the ring. He lost it on the scale when he failed to make weight and missed the 130-pound lightweight limit by 3.5 pounds.
“He said he didn’t want to fight him (because of the weight), and we kind of begged him, because he was supposed to have his last fight at 130 on the Peterson card, but that card was put off because of what happened to Peterson and that threw Adrien off,” said Stafford about his fighter missing weight.
Broner, who is now fighting at lightweight, shouldn’t have any issues with making the weight for his upcoming fight with DeMarco, according to his trainer.
“Adrien is down, (he's) almost close to weight right now,” Stafford said.
That should be good sign for Broner fans with the fight still nearly two months way.
Some might argue that Broner's outside-the-ring interests, like his burgeoning rap career, could have a negative effect on his career. But his trainer believes that boxing is truly Broner's first priority and that his outside-the-ring activities will not be a problem.
“Once he gets in the ring I know he’s focused,” Stafford said. “He loves the gym, he’s married to the gym first.”
In DeMarco, Broner is facing what many would consider the toughest test of his career.
DeMarco is a rugged fighter who won his title nearly a year ago with a come-from-behind knockout over Jorge Linares. His most recent bout was a first-round destruction of John Molina Jr. in September.
As tough as DeMarco is, Stafford doesn’t seem all that impressed, and he seems to think it’ll be an easy night for his fighter.
“It’ll go just like all the rest of them. He’ll dominate him, taking his time and then take him out of there,” Stafford said. “I expect him to punish him and then take him out, knockout, or whatever. He’s too fast and too smart.”
According to Stafford, after Broner dispatches DeMarco on Nov. 17, they will look to unify the titles in the lightweight division.
“We’ll go to Ricky Burns and get that other title."
“He’ll be too fast, too smart and he’s (Burns) not strong enough, these guys are too slow for Adrien. He’s a special guy, a special guy,” Stafford said.
As exceptional as Adrien is in the ring, he’s not the only special fighter that Stafford has trained. He also has worked former Olympic silver medalist Ricardo Williams and three-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren.
Although Williams has never lived up to his potential as a pro and Warren has yet to make his pro debut, Stafford doesn’t necessarily believe that Broner is the best fighter he’s ever had.
“I can’t take anything away from Ricardo and all the rest of them. Adrien just matured (as a fighter) faster than them,” Stafford said. “He’s matured faster than all of them. He definitely matured faster then them through hard work and stuff.”
The fight with DeMarco will be a good barometer to see where exactly Broner stands. A win could propel him into the top 10 pound-for-pound debates, and a loss could set the brash Cincinnati fighter back years with today’s fickle boxing observers.
Stafford thinks that if Broner keeps doing what he’s been doing that he is well on his way to taking Floyd Mayweather’s spot as boxing’s top attraction.
“I don’t see why not, ain’t nobody else got a record like him—24 wins with 20-something knockouts, you know what I’m saying,” Stafford said. “In his first three pro years he hasn’t been touched.”
Michael Walters is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.