The normal progression for a top fighter is to move from one weight class to the next and collect as many titles as possible. But Adrien Broner, who likes belts as much as the next guy, is doing something quite unusual.
A former junior lightweight titlist and reigning lightweight titleholder, Broner is skipping over the junior welterweight division and jumping up two weight classes to welterweight, where he will challenge Paulie Malignaggi for his belt Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
If Broner wins, he will become just the fourth fighter to win titles at 130, 135 and 147 pounds, joining his idol Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya, all of whom stopped off at 140 to win titles.
"I moved up for the opportunity to be a 23-year-old three-time world champion in three different weight classes," Broner said. "[Malignaggi] feels like I'm just a 135-pound fighter, but he's not on my level. It is going to be the 'AB Show.' You guys will be surprised when you see me fight at 147."
Some have been critical of Broner for skipping over the talent-rich 140-pound weight class -- which includes such fighters as Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, Lamont Peterson and Zab Judah -- in order to challenge Malignaggi.
But Garcia fought in April and Matthysse fought in May, and now they are close to a deal to fight each other. Alvarado and Rios are represented by promoter Top Rank, which means no fight because Broner is with Golden Boy. Judah just lost to Garcia (and may next face Alvarado), and Peterson got knocked out by Matthysse. The point is that none of those names were available for Broner for a late spring/summer fight.
"All of the good fighters at 140 were already matched up," Broner said.
The last significant lightweight titleholder to skip junior welterweight was Shane Mosley, but even he took a couple of fights at 147 before he challenged then-champion De La Hoya in 2000.
Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) said the move up in weight is no issue for him and that there is no need for a warm-up.
"I'm really not worrying about jumping weight classes," he said. "For me, the weight is not a problem. I'm originally a welterweight anyway. I just had to lose weight, so I really didn't have to do anything different. I mean, I don't walk around at 130 pounds. I don't walk around at 135 pounds. I walk around at 147, 150 pounds, so I'm at my regular weight."
Broner's 84.6 knockout percentage is one of the highest in boxing. He said he expects to carry his power with him up to 147 pounds.
"What a lot of people don't understand is, you can't really do nothing for power -- you're either born with it or you aren't," he said. "It's like Pacquiao when he was in smaller weights. He was knocking guys out. When he went up into the bigger weights, he was still knocking guys out. It's just something that God blessed me with. I've got power, so it really don't matter what weight class I'm in. I'm still going to have the same power as I had at any weight class I'm in."
Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs), 32, who will be fighting in his hometown, has viewed Broner with disdain throughout the promotion. His jump in weight is just part of it.
"He's a little guy and he's going to see how overrated his power was," Malignaggi said. "I think they were better off letting him fight a live guy -- a lightweight or someone below that -- before him fighting a live guy at welterweight. He's fighting this bigger guy all in one jump, so I don't think that was the most intelligent move on his team's part. He will wind up looking like they put his face in a blender when I'm done with him.
"He's coming up to a real weight class against a real man."