Adrien Broner had a rather easy time against Gavin Rees on Saturday night, eventually dropping him in the fifth round.
Rees gave it everything he had, but Broner was clearly the superior fighter. Once Broner gained a sense of urgency, the fight was over. Having such a dominant American fighter might normally be a huge boost for the sport.
Unfortunately, the fight just illustrated that Broner needs to take on tougher competition before being considered a major star. Beating Antonio DeMarco in November was a nice win, but it's the only win of note at this point in the champion's career. Rees is a good fighter, but he doesn't have a strong reputation, especially outside of Europe.
Broner has it all when it comes to crafting the next great boxer. The knockout of Rees runs Broner's record to 26-0. In addition to that stat, he has all the charisma in the world and isn't afraid to be the guy everybody hates. No matter your opinion of Floyd Mayweather Jr. the person, he's become extremely rich by building himself into a caricature.
That's clearly the path that Broner is taking. The problem is that he has yet to beat anybody significant en route to building his undefeated record. A string of inherently beatable opponents has been lined up in order to make Broner look like a beast.
That's not unique in the sport. Fighters are routinely given extremely weak opposition while building up to title contention. The problem is that Broner is already a title holder. He doesn't need enhancement talent that will make him strong while guiding him to a huge fight down the road. He's a fighter at the top of the mountain whom other guys should be gunning for.
Broner might want to compare himself favorably to Mayweather, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Patterson. By the age of 23, those guys had already beaten some major opponents. Ali was only 22 when he knocked out Sonny Liston.
All of Broner's braggadocio is hollow until he starts taking out guys near his level. Making himself a flat-track bully doesn't endear him to fans of the sport, either.
By simply looking at his tools in the ring, it's easy to see why Broner gets so much hype. He has the kind of talent that could possibly make him one of the best in the history of the sport. If he doesn't fight against strong competition, though, Broner will remain nothing more than a paper champion.