The last time I wrote about Adrien Broner it was to be critical. Not just of him, but also some of his fans that go crazy for the man despite his lack of difficult opposition thus far in his professional career. The quality of his opposition plus the fact that he missed weight by three pounds for his last fight against Vicente Escobedo made it easy to pile on him, and I was doing a lot of piling. Well, for all of you impatient haters out there, the time has come. Broner is taking a legitimate test.
I love crossroads fights. When two of the top men in a division are matched up it will genuinely tell us something about each of them. Maybe they were not as good as we initially expected. Maybe, they could even better than we had thought. And, for some, it may be their last chance to prove that they belong among the elite of the boxing fraternity.
On November 17 we will have such a matchup when Broner moves up to 135 pounds to face Antonio DeMarco, arguably the world's top lightweight. As stated, I've been critical of Broner's choice of opponents in the past, but I can find no fault with this decision. DeMarco, while not a bona-fide stud, represents about the best that the lightweight division has to offer at the moment. Even for a hater like me, this is the goods. A fight like this has big-time implications. Both of these men have been throwing rocks at the glass-ceiling. It's time for one (maybe both?) of them to break through with an impressive performance.
DeMarco is a fight fan's boxer. Always shows up to fight, seeks out challenges, and never complains. We know what we're getting with him. His only loss since 2006 is to the Venezuelan madman, Edwin Valero. No fault in this, Valero was a southpaw slugger with technical skill and a mean streak a mile-long. Most telling, however, is his come-from-behind stoppage victory over Jorge Linares. I have always felt the mental aspect of boxing (probably sports in general) is much underrated. Some guys have won fights just by coming after a more talented/skilled man like a locomotive and staying mentally strong in the face of adversity.
DeMarco showed us that ability when he battled through heavy firepower from one of best talents in the game last November. Something tells me that ability is going to be called upon once again. To be perfectly honest, DeMarco has always been one of those guys that just feels like he is a slight level below the elite. Not a one-shot puncher, not a blazer with hand speed, his best gifts appear to be chin and toughness. This is his shot to change that perception. It's his chance to show that he is not a stepping-stone for one of the sport's best-looking, young fighters.
Then again, what am I saying? Adrien Broner is the show here. He's the undefeated Cincinnati prodigy being promoted by Golden Boy while being televised on HBO. He's the one with lightning fast hands and a knee-bucklin' punch. He's the polarizing figure who speaks to his brush. On November 17, Broner is the individual people will be paying to see.
If he is going to be a special boxer this is the time to find out. I've been very critical of him in the past, and I feel like has deserved every bit of that criticism. He received a gift against Daniel Ponce de Leon, and proceeded to stop three men afterwards that were clearly inferior. He is taking a chance here, a chance that will make or break him.
Trying to think more with my head than with my heart, I think this will make him. I'm not sure if there will be any type of strength advantage for DeMarco. Other than height, I'm not convinced he is the bigger man here. Broner, however, is certainly faster with oodles more physical talent. He has grown since the Ponce De Leon bout. I don't know how much he has improved physically, but mentally I feel he appears more comfortable in the ring. This is his show, and his fight to lose.
Broner has tapped on the glass ceiling. He has shown us he can work a crowd and get people talking. Like the Miami Heat, he is something that one either loves or loathes. Either way, you better get used to him.