Adrien Broner is one of boxing’s fastest-rising stars. He has a combination of in-ring ability, and out-of-ring personality, that if he plays his cards right could lead to superstar status in a sport known for it’s showmen.
The next step on that path for Broner comes this Saturday night (shown on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/PT) in Atlantic City, when he challenges WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco.
And while “The Problem” is known for his confidence, he understands the challenge standing in front of him.
“A fighter can only give you a problem if you let them give you a problem,” Broner said.
“But I am The Problem. DeMarco is a world-class fighter. He wouldn’t be champion if he wasn’t a world-class fighter. He has proven himself against some top-notch guys but he hasn’t fought me yet. I’m going to be victorious.”
The Problem is a nickname Broner has held since he was a youth, where he had a very successful amateur boxing career in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a nickname that has stuck and helped build his in-ring persona.
“It just stuck with me since I was a kid. Me and my twin brother we would go to tournaments and they would be like The Problem is here and it stuck. We raised havoc as kids.“
Antonio DeMarco, who will defend his title on Saturday, recently made news when he promised victory over Broner, and said his next opponent wasn’t the biggest fight of DeMarco's career.
But the challenger refused to be dragged into a war of words with his opponent, instead saying he will do his talking in the ring.
“I mean that’s what he’s supposed to say. We’re not in boxing to say I’m going up against this guy but he’s gonna beat me. He’s supposed to say he’s gonna beat me.
“But at the end of the day I will be victorious and I will put on a good show.”
And putting on a good show is very important.
While DeMarco is the champion, there is no doubt that Broner is being billed as the star of the show, and a big performance will skyrocket him to the upper echelon’s of the sport.
While this stage is certainly huge, big performances are something Adrien Broner tries to give every time out.
“It’s always important to have a good performance. One thing about boxing is as long as you win it really don’t matter.
“For me, though, I’m with the good performances and the crazy ring entrances and I just love to entertain. I love to give a good show.”
Assuming he gets past DeMarco on Saturday night, which most feel he will, the sky is the limit and there will be a great deal of options for future fights.
Broner has shown a willingness to move around in weight to make fights, he’s fought everywhere from super-featherweight, where he was a world champion, to junior welterweight, and he would be willing to move again for the right opportunity.
“Right now I’m at lightweight. I’m comfortable at this weight. I’ll be here for a little while. I’m taking over lightweight for a little while. Hopefully unify the division.
“If a fight that makes sense comes at a catchweight or 140 and the moment's right and things make sense, if everything connects we can do it.”
But first things first. Antonio DeMarco will come to win Saturday night and in boxing you can never take things for granted.
You can only fight the guy in front of you and then worry about what comes next later.
“You never know what next year brings, you never know what next week brings or tomorrow brings. That’s why you have to take boxing one fight at a time and that’s what we’re gonna do.
“Right now my main focus is on DeMarco and after that we’re going back to the drawing board.”
A win Saturday night would make that a very big drawing board, with loaded divisions everywhere from 126 to 147 pounds.
It’s an exciting place to be, and Adrien Broner might just be the best of the lot, a message he hopes to send Saturday night.
Kevin McRae is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted all quotes were obtained in a personal interview conducted on Nov. 8.