The late entrepreneur, Remington shavers owner and spokesman, and ex-New England Patriots owner Victor Kiam once said, "You can hype a questionable product for a little while, but you'll never build an enduring business."
In boxing, we see examples of this all the time, particularly in the modern era, where unproven fighters who are believed to have a certain star quality or je ne sais quoi are hyped by their promoters and the networks that aim to feature them. Little attention is paid to anything more than the bare, black-and-white result. A win is a win, no matter how meaningful or credible the opponent. And with a win, on goes the hype parade.
Adrien Broner and Canelo Alvarez both found their bridge too far in 2013 after a couple of years where the two were hyped as boxing's future superstars, first by HBO and then by Showtime, in addition to Golden Boy Promotions. Canelo took the biggest test he could, falling ungracefully to Floyd Mayweather in September, and Broner was finally officially handed the loss some felt he'd earned three times over when he was outbrawled by Marcos Maidana on December 14.
Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KO) is still a star in terms of drawing power, or at least that's the hope. We'll have to see what kind of business he can drum up when he returns on March 8, most likely against either Carlos Molina or Alfredo Angulo. Canelo being Mexican is a big leg up, because it's a huge fight fanbase that supports its stars passionately. And a loss to Mayweather, still the best boxer on the planet, is by no means a shameful defeat. He took a chance and he came up short.
Broner (27-1, 22 KO) may have a more difficult road back. Alvarez and Broner both had similar climbs into the big-time boxing landscape, with a lot of carefully-selected foes. Canelo, though, at least won convincingly all the time. His closest call really came against Austin Trout earlier this year, and he won that one fair enough, even if the scoring was a little tilted.
Broner, though, had two high-profile, questionable calls against Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2011 and Paulie Malignaggi earlier this year. He also had one earlier in his career against Fernando Quintero. Malignaggi, a non-puncher, exposed Broner as maybe not ready for the welterweight ranks in June in a debated split decision loss in Brooklyn. Heavy-hitting Marcos Maidana cemented the notion that "The Problem" may have tried to go too high, too soon, dropping Broner twice and winning a clear decision in December in one of the bigger boxing stories of the year.
Alvarez also has never tried to play the bad guy, which Broner has done in his never-ending quest to emulate "big brother" Floyd Mayweather. When Floyd would say almost cryptically that Broner had a lot to learn, maybe he meant that if you're going to emulate someone successful -- and there's nothing wrong with doing that, either -- it's wise to pay attention to the root causes of their success. Mayweather has always been in prime shape and his first focus has been boxing. Can Broner say the same? Maybe not. Broner appears to attribute much of Floyd's stardom to an over-the-top personality outside of the gym and the ring.
Rather than copying Floyd's fighting, he's copied only Floyd's style. And Floyd Mayweather didn't get to where he is on style. He got there due first and foremost to a commitment to excellence.
In other words, Alvarez won't have "haters" as a central focus on his comeback mission. Canelo can basically go back to the gym, get to work, and expect a warm reception when he comes back. Nobody threw beer on him after he lost to Mayweather. Maybe if he'd filmed himself taking a dump at Popeye's or had a sex tape hit the internet, Alvarez would face the same adversity that Broner's about to go through.
Broner's experience on the way up matched Alvarez's in most ways. But from here on, they're headed down different paths. Adrien Broner's loss should be more humbling and maybe change his outlook on his career. It's fine to talk trash, it's fine to be a character. But will Broner accept the backlash that he's brought on himself? Will he look inward and see where he may have gotten too wrapped up in his own hype, deal with that, and move forward?
Both of these guys are really talented fighters. Alvarez may not get much better than he already is, but there's a long, successful, big money career in being what he already is. Broner, of the two of them, seems the far more likely to truly break from here. If he has trouble dealing with the loss and the critics, he might flame out in a hurry. More talented fighters than Adrien Broner haven't been able to handle the spotlight and the pressure once it really arrived. Broner wanted the attention and the controversy, but can he handle it now that he doesn't have the "0"?
2014 is going to be a pivotal year for both of these would-be kings. Alvarez and Broner have the ability to overcome their setbacks, and neither of them are so good that a complete collapse is out of the question.