Monday, February 11, 2013

How Good Is Adrien Broner?

Flashy in the ring and out  - Cincinnati's Adrien Broner might just be the next big thing in boxing. 
Here's the thing: I don't know how good Adrien Broner is. And here's the other thing: Neither do you.

The old saying in this sport full of bent noses and crooked eyebrows is that a prizefighter isn't even a "good pro" until he has one-hundred rounds under his belt. At this point, Broner has 91.  

Oh sure, he fights a bit like Floyd Mayweather, Jr., acts a bit like him, too. But can Broner really fight? Well, so far he looks like he can. During the past 4 1/2 years he's made all the shots he's taken and he's pretty much run the table against a collection of fighters that can't exactly be described as the cream of the crop.

At 23-years-old with a record of 25-0 (21)KOs, Broner has managed to procure himself a couple alphabet title belts at 130 and 135 pounds. But, these days, title belts are doled out like U.S dollars at the Treasury Department, so one cannot put much stock in the meaning behind those vinyl decorations adorned with fake baubles and plastic attachments.

To his credit, Broner is still a baby in the fight racket and he admits as much. "I work hard and now I'm really getting ready to show the world who Adrien Broner really is and honestly, I still haven't showed everything I have," he says. "So, just tune in. You'll see a lot more."

Gavis Rees is tough as nails and will bring his Welsh work ethic to Atlantic City.

Broner will take on Welshman Gavin Rees Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Rees can be characterized as a serious and capable former world titlist who brings a record of 37-1-1 (18)KOs to the meeting. He's real and he's serious and if nothing else he will give as good as he'll likely get.

"Yeah, of course, I'm a fighter," says Rees of himself and about facing off against Broner. "I'm a real fighter and I'll fight anybody. I'll go in there to fight anybody. I know he's a great fighter. I'm going over there to give out the fight of my life and I know it'll be one hell of a fight, so I'm fully confident. I've got a game plan,   so we'll see on the night what happens."

Take a scan down though Broner's fight log and there's a few recognizable names listed, but none of such prominence that "The Problem" as he is known, has ever entered the ring as anything more than the odds-on favorite. He is a massive favorite to not only beat Rees, but knock him out. The bookies have installed Broner as such an overwhelming betting favorite that money is virtually non-existent on Rees. 

Certainly Mayweather, Jr. by the time he amassed 25 total bouts and with whom Broner is most often compared, was much further advanced. In his 25th bout, Mayweather put on a signature performance in stopping the previously undefeated Diego Corrales in the 10th round in Las Vegas. Mayweather entered that 2001 bout as a 5-4 underdog and he put "Chico" down five times. He was 23-years-old at the time and had held the 130-pound title for nearly three years and the Corrales fight marked the seventh defense of that title.

During an in the ring post fight victory Q & A, Broner is interviewed by Max Kellerman (left) of HBO - while having his hair brushed by his father.

While many perceive comparisons to Mayweather as premature and unfair, Broner brings on the comparisons by really putting himself out there and making claims in regards to his own callow resume. The questions and criticism sometimes arise because those that remain in the sport with at least one good  discerning eye can plainly see that Broner is still an unproven commodity. 

In his last fight, this past November against 135-pound titlist Antonio Demarco, Broner put on a clinic against a one dimensional fighter with a 28-2-1 record. Broner pitched a shutout in punishing Demarco and he displayed a great defense and potent offense. It was likely his most complete performance as a professional.

However, on paper at least, Rees may very well be the best Broner will have ever seen and he will offer (if nothing else) a different look. A fifteen year veteran, Rees has fought nearly 200 pro rounds and he is a different animal than what Broner is used to seeing. "He's a former world champion so he has to be somebody, even though I really don't know him that much," said Broner. "This is new to me. I know Gavin's not just a walkover. He was a world titlist and he's got a record, 37-1 or something like that with a draw. That's a hell of a record on the professional level. So if he's coming to fight it's going to be a hell of a fight."

What's clear about Saturday night is that it will serve as a gauge of Broner's future, somewhat similar to the night Mayweather defeated Corrales was a gauge of his. Should Broner easily defeat Rees and look spectacular in so doing - it sends the message that he is real - because he will have beaten a real fighter. Rees will bring pressure, he will bring experience and he will bring a will to win. 

More importantly, we will then be a little closer to the answer - How Good is Adrien Broner?

February 2013

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