Adrien Broner (26-0, 22 KO's) and Paulie Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO's) have agreed to terms and will face each other on June 22, 2013 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Broner—who is the current WBC lightweight champion—will be moving up two weight divisions to face Malignaggi, who is the current WBA welterweight champion.
Unfortunately for boxing fans, this fight poses more questions about Adrien Broner than it answers. One such question is, why did Broner give up on the chance to fight Ricky Burns and Miguel Vasquez? Defeating those two fighters would have effectively wiped out the lightweight division and added steam to Broner’s pursuit of becoming “the best boxer to ever lace up a pair of gloves” (per Bob Velin of USA Today).
Also, why did Broner elect to skip over the talent-rich 140-pound division? Sure, the argument can be made that because many of the top 140-pound boxers are already facing each other—including Lamont Peterson versus Lucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia versus Zab Judah—Broner has no choice but to move up to welterweight. A deeper look at the junior welterweight division shows that this is not true.
The great thing about the current state of the junior welterweight division is that the talent pool is endless. Amir Khan, Humberto Soto, Karim Mayfield and Ajose Olusegun are just some of the fighters that Broner could’ve considered facing at junior welterweight before moving up to welterweight.
Yes, Broner can probably move down to lightweight or junior welterweight after the Malignaggi fight (as mentioned by Paul Magno of Yahoo! Sports), but does it make much sense? Why move up two weight classes to face a feather-fisted opponent, simply to move right back down again?
Before accepting the title of boxing’s next big thing, Broner should take a look at the résumé of the man that many people say he resembles most in and out the ring, Floyd Mayweather Jr. At the age of 21, Floyd Mayweather was busy creating a legacy for himself by beating Genaro Hernandez and winning the WBC super featherweight title. Mayweather went on to defend his crown eight times, defeating future champions such as Diego Corrales, Carlos Hernandez and Jesus Chavez all by the age of 24.
If Broner wants to follow in the footsteps of his “big brother” Mayweather, he will need to silence the critics who say he needs to up his level of competition. Broner could have made a serious statement by electing to fight Keith Thurman, Andre Berto or even Victor Ortiz. The “can man”—as Broner likes to call himself—needs to show boxing fans that he can beat quality opponents, consistently.
And speaking of quality opponents, it’s clear that every time Paulie Malignaggi has stepped up his level of opposition, he has lost. Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan are the three best opponents on Malignaggi’s record. All of the fights were one-sided losses for Malignaggi. Versus Broner, Paulie will match up in terms of weight and height, but like Gavin Rees before him, he does not possess the punching power to earn Adrien’s respect.
Even though Adrien Broner is jumping up two weight classes to face Paulie Malignaggi, this fight does little to substantiate the claim that Broner is boxing’s most talented young fighter. If Broner dominates Malignaggi, he will once again be pressured to follow up against better opposition. Whether or not he takes the challenge, only time will tell.