With three wins on HBO and a steadily increasing presence in headlines, Adrien Broner has been voted the 2012 Bad Left Hook Breakthrough Fighter of the Year.
At the end of 2011, Broner was an ultra-promising prospect who picked up a paper title at 130 pounds, beating Martin Rodriguez in what turned out to be a gross mismatch. Many were still fixated on his struggles earlier in the year with Daniel Ponce De Leon, and had concerns about his ability matching his big talk.
Wins over Eloy Perez and Vicente Escobedo -- with a drawn-out scale scandal, to boot -- may not have impressed everyone, but the way he dismantled a very capable and tough Antonio DeMarco in his move up to lightweight in November couldn't be written off as a mismatch, at least not in the sense that DeMarco didn't really belong in the ring with Broner in the first place.
Broner, backed by Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions, and receiving plenty of love from the Mayweather camp , as well, is fast-tracked for stardom. And it's hard to see anyone at 135 slowing him down in 2013.
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Adrien Broner became a star this year. His HBO ratings have probably been slightly overestimated by some people who don't really get TV numbers, as there are now questions about just how soon he'll be going to pay-per-view headlining bouts, which is pretty silly at the moment. But that it may not be too outrageous an idea soon enough is why he's the winner on my ballot. Broner constantly kept himself in the news cycle, fighting three times and talking all the time even when he wasn't fighting. Plus, the brush.
Danny Garcia and Austin Trout were a close second and third for me. Garcia's win over Amir Khan was really big, and it was an upset. Let nobody tell you differently. His two wins over Erik Morales weren't quite as good, but they were still as good as Broner beating Eloy Perez and Vicente Escobedo. Austin Trout's win over Miguel Cotto was arguably the biggest (not the best, perhaps) win any of the three scored this year. You could make a case for any of them, I believe, but Broner knows how to play the media game better than Garcia or Trout, and raised his profile accordingly. Breakthrough trainer of the year would be Angel Garcia, though.
His resume is still light on quality wins, but no fighter raised his profile more than Adrien Broner in 2012. The Cincinnati lightweight brings personality and power to the table, and a potential shot in the arm for a sport in real need of some new stars.
Danny Garcia was in the running for fighter of the year but I think he's more appropriately deserving of the breakthrough fighter award. Garcia basically went from prospect to #1 junior welterweight in 2012. He picked up the WBC, super WBA, and RING titles for his wins over Erik Morales and Amir Khan. He knocked both of them out in spectacular fashion (Morales 2nd fight) and he did it on HBO. Due to the large Mexican and British fan bases of Morales and Khan respectively, Garcia's notoriety grew exponentially.
This time last year, Adrien Broner had some buzz. He'd beaten Ponce de Leon, albeit controversially, demolished then-Caballero conquerer Litzau inside three minutes and, clearly, had the talent to go a long way. Broner ended 2012 as something else altogether: HBO's latest darling, a supremely-gifted fighter with a personality capable of making that crossover into the mainstream, and, above all, the de facto #1 at 135lb.
While not always for the right reasons, Broner gets people talking. Should a similar ascent continue in 2013 - and it's likely it will, despite an inevitable thrashing of Gavin Rees likely doing little to progress his cause - Broner will surely be in the discussion for the more prestigious of these mythical end-of-year prizes.