“You never could shoot, not from the very beginning.”
“And you were all mouth.”
I found this bit of dialogue from the end of “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” echoing through my mind today. There’s just something Broneresque about it. Put yourself in the scene:
There the two American outlaws are, far from the Old West where they made their names, shot to shit, pinned down and outgunned by a squadron of Bolivian soldiers. They snipe at each other, as people are apt to do in bad situations. Indeed, both accusations are false. Sundance can shoot. And Butch is far from being just a mouth.
No matter, their antics have brought them to an end that, although perhaps tragic, is nonetheless just. Ultimately, these are two charming rogues who squandered their considerable talents, broke any number of social, legal and ethical rules, flaunted their defiance and are now paying for it.
Which, of course, brings us to Mr. Broner. Here is a man who, like him or not, possesses considerable talent. He decided to waste that talent however, and now he’s pretty much written off. His win tonight over Ashley Theophane doesn’t change that as he looked anything but impressive. Nor does his calling out a laughing Floyd Mayweather. On Monday he still has to turn himself in to the police.
The truth is there were other, more qualified men than Theophane – who, for the record, is a game and dedicated professional – for Broner to have fought. No matter. It hasn’t been about Broner’s skill, or the fact he’s allowed it to plateau. Maidana took him to school. And even after he was given all the advantages on earth, Porter ended up taking him to school, as well.
And while it looked like he may have finally gotten the point, might have finally matured, when he fought and soundly beat the unknown but talented Khabib Allakhverdiev last October, the uptick proved a mere hiccup, an exception that ultimately proved the rule. And so here we are, with a name fighter and champion who can’t or won’t make weight, stripped of his title and up on serious criminal charges, all the while continuing to shoot off his mouth as if he were a major star.
Boxing has been loaded with big mouths. In fact, it still is. Here’s the thing, though – you have to be more than a mouth in order to get the nod. Otherwise, well, you’re just a punk. And right now, Broner is coming across like a punk. Those are harsh words; indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever used them to describe a professional athlete before. But a writer’s job is to tell it like it is.
Mind you, Broner is someone I’ve actually defended in print before. Believe it or not, the BBC once pointed to me (to my great surprise) as someone who felt Broner was being unfairly treated by the World Boxing Council at the time. Enough is enough, though. A professional has to act, well, professional. And “The Problem” has become his own biggest problem.
Just one more quick thing – neither Broner nor his situation are particularly humorous. Oh, funny shit happens in boxing, make no mistake. But Broner’s not funny. At best he’s horribly irresponsible. At worst, he’s a hardened criminal who’d rather be society’s problem than any kind of role model or even just an upstanding citizen. There’s a thousand other things that could be at play with the man as well, none of them laughable.
Back to the “role model” tag for a moment. Sometimes the best role models are those who were once the worst kinds of scoundrels. In other words, people who have changed are a great example for those who need to change. Perhaps Broner will someday develop into the type of unsung hero the world needs a whole lot more of. Here’s hoping.
In the meantime, another line from Butch Cassidy comes to mind: “It’s over,” Sheriff Ray Bledsoe tells the outlaws at one point in the film, “don’t you get that?”
Unfortunately, Butch and Sundance never do. — Sean Crose