In what was supposed to be a coronation and an official welcome to the true limelight of superstardom, Adrien “The Problem” Broner (27-0) faced his stiffest and most challenging test to date and left much to be desired, cracking the door open for criticism and giving credence–however slight–to those who claim Broner to be more sizzle than spice and more imitation than the real deal.
Against a game yet powerless Paulie Malignaggi, a fight that was originated by matchmaking kingpin Al Haymon with the sole purpose of delivering a refutable “name” to the otherwise barren record of the now 3-time champion, morphed into an exhibit of what ring generalship, stamina, and a decent motor can do for a less talented fighter in the ring. Despite a substantial deficit in power, Malignaggi was able to keep rounds competitive, forcing a split-decision. Stealing rounds by sheer power alone, Broner got by fighting in spurts and while no one in their right mind would suggest Malignaggi did enough to win–here’s looking at you judge Tom Miller (seriously something has to be done about officials in sports)–Broner never displayed the level of dominance or control he and much of the boxing world predicated pre-fight.
Labeled by many as the successor to Floyd Mayweather’s reign of the sport, the question pre-fight was not whether Broner would defeat the 32 year-old never-quite-elite Malignaggi, but if in his first fight in the glamour division which the welterweight division has become and against his first real, legitimate opponent if Broner could display the same level of dominance he’s shown against the Antonio Demarcos and Gavin Reeses of the world. The question coming into Saturday night’s match-up at the Barclay’s Center was whether we were officially entering the first moments of the Adrien Broner era or if it is time to slow that ever-growing locomotive down.
In the build up to the fight I found myself drawing comparisons between Broner’s step-up in weight and class against Malignaggi and Mayweather’s 2001 showdown with the then undefeated Diego Corrales. For Broner and Mayweather these respective fights saw a fairly dramatic step-up in competition and occurred at roughly the same time in their careers. Both were installed as favorites, but were expected to encounter new challenges in these measuring stick-type fights.
Mayweather would drop Corrales five times en route to a 10th-round TKO in a fight many still believe to be his most impressive performance.
For Broner there was no stoppage or memorable moments–outside of his customary post-fight antics–in a fight he predicted would serve as a testament to his greatness years after his retirement. Instead it was simply a respectable performance against a respectable opponent.
Following the fight Broner stated a willingness to fight anywhere between 135 and 147 pounds, going as far as to say he will let his "fans" pick his next opponent. While the chances of that are next to none, early talk has pointed to Marcos Maidana as a possible opponent.
Regardless of the next opponent for the self-entitled "future of boxing," with the answer to the pre-fight question appearing to be a firm “No,” new questions will need to answered by “The Problem.”