<
>

'PBC on NBC': Five things we learned

3/8/2015



The inaugural event of "Premier Boxing Champions" is officially in the books.

So, which was it? The future of boxing or a nationally televised disaster, ready to burn through a serious amount of Al Haymon & Co.'s money? Let's discuss on five things we learned.

1. Debuting this kind of project with an unstable Adrien Broner might have been a bad idea.

In hindsight, someone should have known Broner would track mud through PBC's new carpets. The 25-year-old sort of seems like he doesn't know who he wants to be or how he wants to fight. He was dominant, for sure, in a unanimous decision against John Molina Jr., but he wasn't particularly impressive -- or even interesting.

If PBC could have crafted the perfect postfight interview for its first televised bout, having Broner basically admit he fought a boring fight wouldn't have made the script. And having him then reference a race comment he made in the ring last year, which drew harsh criticism, definitely would not have made it in the script.

It's hard to distinguish what Broner is trying to be at this point. It's obvious he's been told to tone down his personality but not to shut it off completely. So, we're left with sort of a half-Broner, who will still rotate around his opponent midfight and make inappropriate gestures to the crowd, but only halfheartedly so.

In this particular event, with a first impression on the line, Broner didn't give people much reason to stay and -- even worse -- gave some reason to leave.

2. Headlining this kind of project with Keith Thurman versus Robert Guerrero -- that was a good idea.

It could not have worked out much better. You had Thurman, 26, a young buck who knew what this opportunity meant for his career and went out guns blazing, trying to make a statement. Across the ring you had Guerrero, 31, a veteran with a name who could take Thurman's best and fire back but never really threaten to upset the evening by winning.

This was matchmaking at it's finest.

Let's pause for a moment to reflect and laugh out loud at the unfortunate fact that Guerrero's dud of a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2013 cost a full pay-per-view price, while Saturday's barnburner cost nothing but air and about 48 minutes of your time. Brilliant.

3. Boxing is not dead.

Mayweather is 38 years old and has publicly contemplated retirement after the last two fights on his current contract are finished. Manny Pacquiao is 36. The two will engage in the biggest fight in boxing history on May 2. Soon after that, however, whenever both retire, someone will need to be there to accept the reins of boxing stardom.

This is what's exciting about PBC -- it is designed to ensure that someone exists. Make no mistake, there is young, exciting, well-spoken talent in boxing. One needs to look no further than the 26-year-old Thurman, who was terrific this weekend, to see it.

Thurman was so hell-bent on scoring an early knockout on Saturday, he literally ran into a head-butt during the third round that caused a massive hematoma on his forehead.

There are others along with Thurman, waiting in the wings to take the throne. In recent years, boxing's consumption model arguably worked against it. It's early, but PBC's model could change that.

4. Boxing is not dead, revisited.

There are compelling figures in the sport and, certainly, compelling fights. Thurman-Guerrero was a strong but not spectacular fight for 8½ rounds. At one point, there even appeared to be a horrific possibility of it ending in a no contest, due to the hematoma on Thurman's face. Can you imagine that?

And then, midway through the ninth, Thurman dropped Guerrero with two right uppercuts. That set the stage for Guerrero to rally back with a strong showing in the 10th, his best round of the fight.

Substance was there, and Haymon & Co. know how to dress it up. This was a polished product in the arena on Saturday, and it will only improve as a television product with more practice. It would seem to carry appeal to a younger audience, which means a longer guaranteed lifespan. For an old sport, boxing had tints of infancy in certain aspects this weekend.

5. It's not all bad news for Broner.

We were hard on Broner at the start, so let's circle back and give him due credit at the finish.

Broner, entertaining or not, made his decision win look like easy work. As he stated at the postfight news conference -- wearing a shirt that looked like it was made from his grandmother's favorite tablecloth -- he was 'still pretty' at the end of 12 rounds against Molina.

And, away from the cameras that were transmitting his comments to a live audience, he explained his approach to the fight perfectly well.

"Last two days I thought, 'The last time I went into the ring and fought with my heart, I lost,'" said Broner, referring to the only loss of his career, to Marcos Maidana in 2013. "I am never going to let that happen again. So, I said I'm going to use my God-given talent and make this fight as easy as possible.

"The crowd might boo me, but at the end of the day, I'm going not going out there and fighting for them. That don't pay my bills."

As has always been the case with Broner, talent and personality are there. Self-sabotage is. If he can better define himself in and outside of the ring, the world can still be his oyster.