Adrien Broner boxed smartly, and boringly, in last night’s co-main on Al Haymon’s nascent Premier Boxing Champions series. “The Problem” (30-1) easily outpointed John Molina (27-6), who delivered none of the combativeness he promised prior to the fight. Broner was demonstrably faster, sharper, and showed a far more advanced repertoire of punches, and it made for an uneventful bout, in which he periodically landed clean shots in a performance that may have pleased the aesthetes but surely upset the sadists. Throughout the fight, and particularly at its conclusions, boos filled the MGM Grand. Broner has referred to himself as a ‘boss’ in the past. Last night he showed that bosses sometimes bore.
NBC was so terrified Broner would do something unsavoury that during his post-fight interview, after an uncommonly subdued AB answered questions as thoughtfully as possible for a person who once videotaped himself taking a shit, he tried to turn heel and launch into his “Anybody CAN get it! Mexi-CANS! Ameri-CANS…” routine, but the interviewer immediately pulled the microphone away. There is nothing even remotely offensive, or (gasp!) racist in this act, and the fact it’s considered taboo speaks to the stupidity of a culture that’s so concerned with being offensive that it preemptively mutes innocuous speech.
Broner impressed yesterday because his opponent was too tepid and talentless to pressure him. At no point did Molina challenge any of his fallibilities, which was disappointing, given the Californian’s ornery reputation. A loss, or even a competitive fight, would have further destabilized the idea that Broner remains one of boxing’s freshest talents. From the outset, he, his camp, television networks, and complicit publications positioned him as the sport’s next superstar, but his skill set might be too limited to fulfill this prophecy. “The Problem” doesn’t punch hard enough to hurt people at welterweight and is easily hittable. He looks tremendous when conditions are favorable, but this only lends itself to building a star, not sustaining its glow.
Broner’s dedication to improvement will determine his future. Because he can’t stop people at higher weights, only through continuous development will he be competitive against fighters whose power and aggression will force him to rely on boxing skills. It’s the only way he’ll survive at the top. Because a fighter who treats boxing as a conduit to celebrity, i.e. as a way of getting quicker bottle service in a nightclub; the sort who pronounces his genius despite having few notable wins; who calls himself an entertainer but fights in a manner that elicits boos; whose behaviour seems plagiarized from a self-help manual written by an eighteen year old rapper; whose presumption of verbal brilliance is betrayed by his difficulty with polysyllabic words; who electrifies only when his opponent is either too small or too hapless to be a challenge—well, a fighter like that probably won’t flourish.
— Eliott McCormick