Adrien Broner already walks, talks and acts like boxing royalty, but does the welterweight really possess superstar credentials? A quick glance at his resume says no.
Look, Broner is a great prospect. The 24-year-old is superbly gifted and has honed a dramatically improved skill set as he has marched up the ranks. He’s powerful, has fast hands and knows how to use them to generate real power.
Perhaps more importantly, Broner typically fights in a pleasing style. While his movements inside the ring mimic that of Floyd Mayweather, Broner seems delightfully more willing to engage opponents head on than the defensive-minded Mayweather prefers.
Equally entertaining is Broner’s belief that he possesses a similar-style defense. But he doesn’t. It is a crude imitation of what Mayweather does so well. Mayweather is the master. Broner is the flawed copy. It leads to fun fights, though, and despite the Mayweather exception, that’s usually very important to a boxer hoping to build his brand.
But Broner’s unblemished record leaves much to be desired. Sure, he’s reeled off 27 straight wins and 22 knockouts, but has he really beaten anyone worth mentioning yet? And is there a reason he’s ranked so highly on Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list?
Oh sure, there was Paulie Malignaggi. But Broner scraped by Malignaggi by a split decision, and while the light-hitting Malignaggi is a fine boxer, he certainly isn’t elite.
In fact, Malignaggi is the type who is capable of defeating good fighters but is also hopelessly outclassed when he’s matched against the elite ones.
Malignaggi was knocked out by both Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton. Heck, even Amir Khan stopped Malignaggi back in 2010.
And Malignaggi is Broner’s best win easily. Other than slipping past him, Broner’s feasted on the likes of Antonio DeMarco and Gavin Rees. No disrespect to those guys, but the only way they ever make it onto a pay-per-view is by being on an undercard.
But Broner has an opportunity this Saturday against Marcos Maidana. While Maidana would never be confused with the Manny Pacquiaos of the world, he certainly is a formidable opponent.
In fact, despite his losses, Maidana has better wins on his ledger than Broner has. He’s knocked out notable contenders Victor Ortiz, Josesito Lopez and Jesus Soto Karass. Heck, his close win over Erik Morales and disputable loss to Amir Khan is almost better by themselves than what Broner has done to date.
Still, Broner is a rare boxing talent. He has much to be arrogant about inside the ring. He will almost always be the most talented fighter in the ring on fight night, no matter who he faces.
But talent only takes you so far. Ask Zab Judah, whose disappointing career may have finally come to an end at the hands of Malignaggi last weekend.
Broner won’t want to end up like Judah. Instead, he’ll hope to maximize his potential as a prizefighter. In order to do that, he’ll need to step in with the kind of better competition that a fighter like Maidana represents.
But for Broner to reach superstar status, he doesn’t just need to defeat Maidana, he needs to dominate him.
Maidana is a fine fighter. But does anyone believe he could go rounds with the truly best fighters in the sport? Would a bout with Mayweather be competitive? With Pacquiao? Would he be favored against any viable fight partner with pound-for-pound credentials?
The answer is decidedly no.
So if Broner hopes to reach the upper echelon of the sport, he definitely needs to take care of business against Maidana. If he doesn’t look great against him, he’ll remain trapped in the space between prospect and star.
And if the unthinkable happens and he loses, he may never get there at all.
Kelsey McCarson is a boxing writer for Bleacher Report and The Sweet Science.