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Broner vs Vargas: Press conference becomes the AB Show, for better or worse

Adrien Broner stole the show at Thursday’s presser with an interesting outburst.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Adrien Broner stole the show in full-fledged fashion at the Thursday press conference to hype up the Saturday fight card at Barclays Center, portions of which will run on Showtime.

AB, as he likes to refer to himself, or “The Problem,” as he was tabbed on the come-up, referring to his skill set, which was supposed to be so vaunted, he’d perhaps be the man to pull the wagon when Floyd Mayweather exited the arena. These days, “the problems” often times refer to outside the ring jackpots the Cincy-based hitter gets involved in.

And this week has been no different; a social media back and forth with a fairly well-known rapper helped give this promotion, put together by Mayweather Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, a unique flavor.

You can call it that, we suppose; indeed, the presence of extra NYPD at the press conference held at Barclays Center, after a switch was made from a Manhattan Hotel a few days ago, when Broner and rapper 6ix9ine went back-and-forth with threats galore beng made, gave this gathering a unique flavor. The possibility of feuding between undercarders Jermall Charlo and Gervonta Davis, not to mention that incident last week, when someone shot at a vehicle they hoped contained Floyd Mayweather, in Atlanta, made this fight week something different.

And Broner continued the trend, with his behavior at Barclays, for a presser which kicked off a little after 12:30 PM, and streamed on a Showtime link.

AB started out being AB, leaving his headphones on as Leonard Ellerbe presided, and kicked it to co-promoter Lou DiBella, who introed the top tier of the card, which includes Heather “The Heat” Hardy, back to her boxing roots after two MMA fights. Then Brian Custer, the smooth emcee, took the mic, and went into a Q-and-A session with the fighters on the dais. Broner acted up mildly when, after his foe Jessie Vargas promised he’d had a helluva camp and was there to win the 144-pound catchweight tango, paused, and instead of answering a Custer query, took off his headphones and latched them onto his mic. His iTunes played and the media tittered, while they listened to some Vanessa Carlton. Custer didn’t miss a beat.

Broner went off the reservation, truly taking over the event, when he aimed a sharp barb at Ellerbe, and Mayweather Promotions. He did this while Ellerbe sat right next to him, and his smile melted into a tight grin.

“This a fake ass press conference,” the 33-3 boxer said, when asked to respond to the 28-2 Vargas saying he’s beatable. “This shit garbage.” Pins dropped and no one noticed, all eyes and ears on AB. “I’m just ready to fight. I ain’t worried about Jessie.”

So far, so good, or only mildly discomfiting. Then, he let the hands go, and then some…

He told Vargas to pipe down, because Vargas has lost when he stepped up. AB said he hoped he’d get proper credit when he beat the underdog. “And I know all y’all against me. Him right here, Leonard Ellerbe against me. They with this bitch ass n***a. Leonard a bitch ass n***a too!”

Ellerbe paused a half-tick, then answered, “First off, you don’t disrespect me like that.”

Broner told him to shut up. “You ain’t with me, you ain’t with me, you with Jessie.”

“I’m with Mayweather Promotions,” countered Ellerbe.

“Yeah, you ain’t with me,” the heated boxer stated. “I’m a real one, I’m a real one. Shut that soft ass stuff up,” he demanded, as Ellerbe worked to try and restore a less antagonistic tone. “That’s some soft ass shit. Shut that soft ass shit up.”

Custer also tried to take the reins. Broner wouldn’t have it. His rant elongated. “They don’t want me to be in nice cars, they don’t want me to be in Rolexes. They want me to lose this fight, go up under the rug and never be talked about again. They don’t want me to see the top of my pinnacle. But guess what, man? I trained my ass off, I ain’t losin’ to no Jessie Vargas. Y’all got me fucked up!”

He promised to win another crown, soon, and then went back at Ellerbe, who yes, was still seated right next to him. “Like I said, Leonard, you ain’t with me. I’m about billions, man, I’m about billions. None of ya’ll with me, only my team with me!”

We will now face off the fighters, said Custer, and the tension was broken, a bit. Broner then had all the media gathered around him, as we tried to get a better sense of what was irking him, why he deemed the presser fake and what the beef with Ellerbe was all about. He was smiling, and grooving to music, before taking questions from the Showtime crew, and then from the rest of the press.

Ellerbe stood behind Broner, not giving an inch. Broner announced loudly that we should all note where the media was stationed, near him. “I”m still one of the baddest motherfuckers ever to do it in this era,” he said defiantly, defying conventional widsom, frankly. One of the most interesting, for sure.

Defiance is a huge part of his appeal as an attraction, as is his ability to surprise watchers, with his antics and propensity to zig when zagging is called for. Some media groused that the AB act is old, and he went off the rails here. Me, I think he’s interesting, and a pretty compelling character study.

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