Aside from his sublime overall skill, sound defense, blazing hand speed and thudding power, the reason Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KO) is such a compelling fighter is due to his superfluous nature. With Broner, fans might be divided—a la Floyd Mayweather—but the bottom line is that he elicits a response.
That said, while Broner has thus far crafted his persona through delight in seemingly unnecessary frills, there is one area where he hopefully won’t make excess a habit: his weight.
On Saturday, Broner needed only five rounds to dispatch of Vicente Escobedo (26-4, 15 KO), a 2004 U.S. Olympian and classy contender. The fight, however, was marred with a certain degree of controversy as Broner originally weighed in 3.5 pounds over the junior lightweight limit of 130 and also re-weighed in at 143.5, well over the 140-pound agreement struck with Escobedo’s camp.
Escobedo, who was fighting for a full-fledged major title for the first time in his career, agreed to go on with the fight, though the outcome was never in doubt as Broner dominated his game but overmatched opponent.
Responses to Broner’s weigh issues and post-fight antics have been extreme and divisive, but it seems that a balance can be struck between what actually warrants criticism and what is merely a case of playful, albeit immature, antics.
Broner’s bended knee “proposal” where he popped the hair-brushing question to his girlfriend (what will he think of next?) is innocent enough, though he might reconsider such actions a few years down the road—to her credit, Arie Nicole, Broner’s girlfriend, has taken the incident and the accompanying negative press in stride.
While Broner equating his average haircut with the sanctity of marriage might put some people off, such antics could be chalked up to Broner being Broner (a side note on his hair: the joke is that his hair doesn’t actually need brushing, right?). Whether fans love it or hate it, this type of charisma, combined with his skills, has Broner poised to be one of boxing’s biggest and most marketable stars.
What is serious and hopefully not a case of Broner being Broner is his flippant disregard for making weight. The fact that Broner was drinking water after failing to make weight and tweeting pictures of Twinkies is deplorable, and it makes a mockery of all boxers who sacrifice and train diligently to make weight.
There comes a point where jesting crosses over into unprofessionalism, and no measure of story spinning can salvage Broner’s actions, Twinkie and otherwise, surrounding his weight issues for the Escobedo fight.
In less high-profile cases, boxing fans and writers have watched weight issues all but destroy the credibility of former champions like Joan Guzman and Jose Luis Castillo. Failing to make weight is deflating for everyone involved, and the act itself sullies and ruins the integrity of a fight. The last thing Broner needs is to make this a habit.
Broner had always intended to move up in weight, but his premature jump is still inexcusable. Why fight at 130 with the presumption of defending a world title if you know you can’t make weight? Maybe the WBO belt was insignificant to Broner, but an alleged title fight where the belt is only at stake for one boxer lacks a certain luster, to put it kindly.
This might very well be the only occasion where Broner fails to make weight. That said, for a championship-level fighter, once is too much.
Broner can have his fake marriage proposals, hair brushing, tasseled trunks, neon shoes, dancing and entourage; who am I to begrudge him or judge him based on any of those things? But when it comes to his weight, he’d better toe the line, or his shine might wear off sooner than he thinks.