A Proposal: Adrien Broner needs to keep trolling
Marcos “Chino” Maidana established the pattern in the opening moments of last Saturday’s clash with previously undefeated rising superstar Adrien “The Problem” Broner: Jab to the body and watch Broner reach down to his navel to parry the shot, then feint the jab, watch Broner swat at it, and blast his jaw with a thunderous left hook.
The sequence unfolded countless times during Maidana’s 12-round decision victory, providing not just a blueprint on how to exploit the holes in Broner’s Mayweather-lite Philly Shell defense, but an object lesson in the risks of reaching for things beyond your grasp.
Like left jabs to the belly when you’re better off protecting your jaw.
Or 147-pound titles when your power is better suited to smaller foes and your chin to lighter hitters.
Or Floyd Mayweather’s place as boxing’s biggest draw when you’ve never headlined a pay-per-view event, much less defeated an elite contender.
Broner paid a steep price for his overreaching. Maidana left the ring with the WBA welterweight championship, while Broner went home with a jaw swollen as grotesquely as Muhammad Ali’s after his first bout with Joe Frazier. And if he’s logged on to any of his social media accounts since the fight he has weathered a barrage as relentless as Maidana’s.
Stuff like this:
The ridicule is predictable. In the Instagram Era anybody’s misfortune can become the raw material for memes — even celebrities people love.
But few sports fans outside Broner’s hometown Cincinnati love him, and that’s by design. Broner cultivates hatred better than just about any combat sports villain this side of Ravishing Rick Rude. He raps his way to the ring, has his dad brush his waves pre and post-fight, and tweets about sleeping with his followers.
He is, depending on your perspective, a bad guy, a buffoon, or a coon. And it works for him — when he fights even mainstream sports fans tune in to see if somebody will knock that smirk off his face. And three days following his resounding loss to Maidana many fans are still giddy over seeing him humbled.
But humbled is one thing; humble is something entirely different. And if Broner hopes to remain relevant he’ll let his injuries heal, announce his return to the ring, then troll even harder than he did before.
Because the people who tuned in to see him lose will never love him enough to care whether he wins, or even fights again. The most he makes those fans is indifferent, and indifference doesn’t sell tickets.
It has nothing to do with Broner plugging the holes in his defense or becoming a better counterpuncher. Broner needs to do that, just because. But if skills alone paid bills, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Andre Ward would draw bigger crowds.
It has everything to do with entertainment, and the entertainment value in a Broner bout is the hope that whoever they line up against him will give him the beating he’s been baiting. And that hope springs from Broner’s antics and arrogance, and the idea that he deserves to lose for disrespecting fans, opponents and the sport.
When he wins fans feel ripped off, but still optimistic that the next contender will restore the world’s natural order. And when Maidana battered Broner for 12 rounds it felt like Karma had finally collared him.
Of course Broner’s beating was less a question of divine justice than it was of styles and skills, but Broner sells the idea that the universe owes him an ass-kicking. Each time he avoids it, demand builds for the next opponent to give him what he deserves, and Broner stokes that sentiment between fights by releasing sex videos and bad rap songs.
Strip away Broner’s arrogance and you also remove the anticipation that attended each of his recent fights. Make him as humble and friendly and unassuming as Shawn Porter and suddenly Broner is as big an attraction as… well… Shawn Porter.
Nobody wants that — least of all the people who so throughly enjoyed watching Maidana force-feed Broner all his pre-fight trash talk. Those same sports fans would probably struggle to identify Maidana if they passed him on the street. At best they’d recognize him as “the guy who beat Broner.”
But they know Broner because as much as pro boxing is a competition it’s also an entertainment business, and Broner entertains because of how he succeeded in copying Mayweather. He reaches out to mainstream fans by making them hate him, then convinces them to plan Saturday evenings around the possibility of seeing him get punched out.
The difference with Broner is that his leaky defense suspect counterpunching mean that against elite welterweights the beatdown might actually happen.
What’s more entertaining than that?
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