Adrien Broner can be a mess of contradictions.
The three-division world champion is the type of person who can make your head spin, dishing out his words with dizzying speed and contradicting himself often but meaning every word.
Returning to the ring on Saturday night in his hometown of Cincinnati, The Problem will be making his second appearance since being manhandled and suffering his first loss at the hands of Marcos Maidana. He said the experience woke him up.
“That loss was the best thing that ever happened to my career. God, I don’t know why he did it, but he did,” Broner told Bleacher Report.
“Now I look at things different. I changed a lot. I changed a lot of people I hang out with. You see who really loves you then.”
The changes he described may not seem immediately evident, and you’d be forgiven for not noticing them.
At least publicly, Broner doesn’t seem very far away at all from the man who stepped through the ropes to face Maidana and rushed out to avoid facing the music after suffering his first defeat.
The Broner bandwagon got considerably lighter after that night, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the fighter’s confidence and his belief that he’s still everything he told us he’d be.
“I’m still the chosen one. I’m the one that’s supposed to take over the game after [Floyd] Mayweather and [Manny] Pacquiao retire,” Broner said in response to a question about the state of his career.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re supposed to do. I’ve got a fight September 6 against a hell of an opponent who is coming off one of his biggest wins. Cincinnati is my hometown, so we’re going to be having a homecoming party.”
And just like that, humility gone.
Comparisons to Mayweather—many of them self-inflicted—have always been unfair to Broner, creating distractions and forcing him to be someone and something that he’s not.
The next step in that process—if you can fairly call it that—comes on Saturday night against Emmanuel Taylor, a decent but not world-beating 140-pound contender who was chosen largely because of how he performed in his last fight.
It’s the prototypical home game for Broner, and there’s nothing the least bit humble about his feelings on Taylor’s chances.
“I love fighting at home. You love fighting in front of your mom and your family. You can’t lose,” Broner said.
“I don’t care what he [Taylor] does. He better come into the ring with a fully loaded magazine and two AK’s. I ain’t playing with him. It’s going to be a fun night for me, man. He’s gonna catch a beating.”
Taylor, who knocked off once-promising contender Karim Mayfield on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights in July, is no Maidana.
He’s not even in the same ballpark.
But he’s a clear step up from the light-hitting Carlos Molina, whom Broner dominated on the Mayweather vs. Maidana undercard in May.
Fans might not want to hear that, and Broner’s contention that his foe will need to enter the ring armed to the teeth to have a chance certainly doesn’t help matters.
But, at the end of the day, The Problem realizes that boxing is a game often dictated by right time and right place.
“It’s boxing. It’s an opportunity. Like when I lost to Maidana. In his next fight he fought Mayweather. Opportunities open up,” Broner said.
“Taylor beat Karim Mayfield, and they felt he should be my next opponent, coming off a win like that. They had high dreams for Mayfield, and he kept his composure and beat Mayfield, and now he’s fighting me.”
This could prove to be a defining moment for the brash, humble-but-not Broner.
But win or lose, some things just never change.
“We’re still fresh, fly, flashy lifestyle. Young, rich and famous, and I’m only more famous now.”
Kevin McRae is a featured boxing columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained from a one-on-one interview.