Writer’s Note: At today’s weigh-in, Adrien Broner was over the 130 pound super featherweight limit by 3.5 pounds for his July 21 championship match against Vicente Escobedo. Broner has been stripped of his WBO super featherweight title and per last-minute negotiations, cannot weigh more 140 pounds for Saturday’s bout.
Who will become boxing’s next superstar? The question becomes more pressing every fight and every year as the sport’s current kings, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, get deeper into their 30s and closer to retirement.
Enter Adrien Broner, an upstart Cincinnati fighter with dreams of becoming the face of boxing. A string of flashy KOs over the past year has brought him to the second defense of WBO super featherweight against Vicente Escobedo on HBO Boxing After Dark (July 21). Not everyone is enamored with Broner, who’s been called everything from a “poor man’s Mayweather” to another in a long line of “HBO hypejobs.” And like the former comparison, Broner finds himself polarizing boxing fans into love ‘em or hate ‘em camps.
The heir or another pretender? Either way, Adrien Broner aims to make sure you the fans are entertained watching his destiny unfold.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: This fight is another “home game”since it’ll take place in Cincinnati. Do you prefer it this way or being on the road?
Broner: As long as there’s a boxing ring I’m gonna put on a show. It don’t matter if it’s three people in the crowd – I’m gonna put on a show. That’s what I like to do. I’m a showoff: I show up and show out. I love to entertain.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Vicente Escobedo is a solid opponent but not one of the other champions at super featherweight. Do you feel your level of competition has been progressing or just treading water?
Broner: Actually all of my opponents have been real good starting with [Daniel] Ponce de Leon. He’s a knockout artist and I overcame that. Then Jason Litzau right after he’d beaten the #1 guy and he was then #1. Then I won the world title against a guy who everyone had above me because they brought into his hype [Vicente Martin Rodriguez]. Then comes the #1 ranked guy in the WBO, Eloy Perez, 23-0. I overcame that battle.
I really don’t listen to the critics. It’s just guys who aren’t blessed with the talent I have to make other good fighters look mellow. That’s what I do.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Defense is a big topic these days concerning young fighters. You haven’t been hit much cleanly up to this point. What’s your approach to keeping out of danger?
Broner: It’s bringing everything together collectively. I know I have the talent, reflexes, the reach and youth is definitely on my side. I’m young and in shape. When it comes to defense a lot of guys get put down because they lose it mentally. They’ve been thinking about offense so much, hitting a guy so much they forget about bringing their hands up after a left hook. Or bringing their jab hand up after a jab. You have to always be ready for the next punch. Mentally I keep myself sound and ready.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: If the other champions won’t come from overseas or you going to them, are you willing to wait it out to see if any of the big name featherweights move up?
Broner: I’m not going to wait. After this fight [pauses] this will be my last fight at 130 pounds. I wasn’t even gonna fight at 130 in my last fight on May 19 but I said, y’know what, I’ll fight him where he’s comfortable at. So I’m doing it one last time. It really don’t matter.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Has there been any movement on your dream fight of facing Yuriorkis Gamboa?
Broner: Y’know it’s still up in the air. It’s a fight everyone wants to see. What can I say? It would be a hell of a fight and like always I’d come out on top. I work hard. The fights are won inside the gym. People don’t see my gym work and ethics. If the fight happens, it would be a great thing for boxing. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Be your own harshest critic for a second. Where do you need to improve?
Broner: As a fighter, boxer and puncher you can always get better. But that’s for guys who don’t have the [natural] talent. Guys like me, you just have to stay sharp. I know I can do everything in the book. I know I can be the slickest and be untouchable, but I have to be mentally and physically ready. As long as I stay focused , sky’s the limit.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Do you feel like you have to tone things down to stop the Mayweather comparisons?
Broner: I mean it doesn’t bother me at all. We have some similarities but we’re nothing alike. I’m just being myself out there.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem:We’ve already seen you rap during your ring entrance. Which current emcee best sums up what you’re about?
Broner: Meek Mill.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Why Meek?
Broner: Because he comes from the same place I come from. We’ve gone through similar situations and got out. The things he raps about I’ve been through. And now, he’s living his dream.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Even now at this level, do you still see no benefit of viewing fight tape to prep yourself?
Broner: Y’know even in the amateurs you don’t watch tape you just get in there and fight whoever. All the boxing tape is worthless because a fighter is not going to fight the same way every time. I just make sure I have myself well-prepared to do whatever I have to do to get the victory.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: If you had the power, what’s the main thing you’d do to improve the sport?
Broner: [Pauses] Well with me… when I really become the people’s champ and the one that runs boxing for my era, I’m not going to hide from my fans or my haters. They want to see me. And if I’m on TV they’re gonna pay to see me.
I’m gonna try to fight as frequently as possible. You got some guys that fight once or twice a year. I’m young and I’d like to fight four times a year.
Adrien Broner vs. Vicente Escobedo airs live on HBO Boxing After Dark at 10 p.m. ET. The co-feature is Keith Thurman vs. Orlando Lora.