Boxing fans are nearly out of patience with Adrien Broner, who faces a make or break fight Saturday in his home town of Cincinnati.
SAN DIEGO, Ocotber 2, 2015 – Remember how good it felt when the arrogant bully in school got payback from someone who wasn’t afraid to take him on?
Fans tuning into Showtime Boxing Saturday night from Cincinnati might be driven by the same motivation; at least, the fans who even know about this bout. It’s completely under the radar, even in Broner’s hometown where ticket sales are reportedly less than brisk.
Broner (30-2, 22 KOs) will face Russian Khabib “The Hawk” Allakhverdiev (19-1-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBA junior welterweight title vacated by Jessie Vargas. Vargas won the belt himself by beating Allakhverdiev in his only loss, so winning this bout brings “The Hawk” some personal redemption.
Broner originally showed skills inside the ring with a dash of flashy, trashy behavior outside the ring when he first burst onto the national scene as a super featherweight five years ago. His fast hands and knockout power promised a successful career for the then 21-year-old.
But Broner’s antics started to get more of his attention than training. He lost this columnist when he failed to make weight in 2012 for a fight against Vicente Escobedo, after laughing about his junk food jones on social media. Broner leaned on Escobedo to take a payoff, scoring a fifth round TKO against an opponent he outweighed by two full weight classes. This puts the smaller fighter at great risk. It should never happen.
Since then, Broner scored wins against Gavin Rees and Paulie Malignaggi but they were far from definitive. When he took his wildly inflated undefeated record into the ring against the relentless Marcos Maidana in December 2013, “El Chino” solved the Broner problem, dropping him on the canvas twice enroute to a win.
Broner’s reation to losing was little more than a shoulder shrug. He bagged a few more wins, then faced fellow Ohio native Shawn Porter in a catchweight bout in June at 144 pounds. Porter beat Broner handily. This time, Broner can’t shrug off another loss.
Leading up to this bout, Broner imposed his own “cone of silence,” refusing to talk to most of the boxing news media, speaking a single sentence at the final news conference Thursday and weigh-in Friday. “I told you I wouldn’t do any interviews or talk. Nothing has changed. I just want to thank everyone for coming. I will be victorious on Saturday night, October 3,” said Broner.
Allahkverdiev had plenty to say, although he doesn’t normally sound off. “He [Broner] is nervous. That’s why he’s acting like a clown. This is his hometown. It’s his last chance for a world title and he shows up late and makes it look like he’s joking around with everybody and doesn’t care. I’ve seen fighters do this before and it’s because he is scared.
“He knows what will happen on Saturday. He can clown around all he wants, but that won’t help him when we are in the ring… I am going to beat him in front of all his friends,” declared Allahkverdiev.
At lightweight, Broner had enough punching power to end fights early without having to demonstrate a lot of tactics or stamina. At higher weights, Broner cannot generate enough power to fully engage during a fight against a strong opponent such as Maidana and Porter.
Lucky for Broner, “The Hawk” is not particularly a knockout artist. Allakhverdiev would be smart to use his height advantage, speed, and stamina to stay busier than Broner, box and look for his opportunities. Broner will try to make the fight messy, but referee Harvey Dock is a veteran and not likely to let Broner get away with much, which should help Allakhverdiev.
His career is in tatters at this point. He needs to do some soul searching, and I’m not talking about designer shoes. If Broner loses, his options are dwindling, and he may have to fall back on his rapping “career.” Feel free to put the air quotes around “career” yourself.
On the undercard, IBF junior lightweight champion Jose Pedraza (20-0-0, 12 KOs) of Puerto Rico faces veteran Edner Cherry (34-6-2, 19 KOs) in a 12-round bout; 2012 U.S. Olympian boxer Jamel Herring (13-0-0, 9 KOs) now living in Cincinnati, takes on Yakubu Amidu of Ghana (21-7-2, 19 KOs), now living in Los Angeles.
Assuming you have any interest, Broner vs. Allakhverdiev airs on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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