- Michael Woods, Boxing
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He's been telling us, and not in subtle fashion, not resorting to hints or implications. No, Paul Malignaggi has told us for a long spell that Adrien Broner is not the heir apparent, not the new Floyd Mayweather, definitely not the future of boxing, as the fighter himself has been stating for the last couple of years.
Judging by what fight fans saw of Broner on Saturday night, in a welterweight clash against rugged rumbler Marcos Maidana of Argentina, it is clear that all should have been paying more heed to Malignaggi.
The Bensonhurst-bred boxer -- who had his hand raised in his last scrap, on Dec. 7 against Zab Judah at Barclays Center -- was a Broner doubter even before he faced off with the Ohio-based 25-year-old who lost via UD to Maidana in San Antonio. The doubts for Malignaggi, who worked an analyst chair for Showtime and saw Broner floundering on Saturday, increased last June when he clashed with Broner at Barclays. The cocksure Broner beat Malignaggi and exited with the New Yorker's WBA welterweight title via split decision, but Malignaggi's certainty that Broner had more flaws than his backers acknowledged grew immensely. Those flaws -- his lack of calmness when in trouble, his inability or unwillingness to adapt to a game plan that isn't working, his disdain for using his feet to get better angles or remove himself from being exposed to punches, his desire to manipulate the circumstances to gain an edge from an official instead of fighting his way out of trouble, the immaturity he has demonstrated both personally and professionally -- became apparent to all the folks who swallowed the hype.
"Broner can fight," Malignaggi told me, "and there's nothing wrong with being a very good fighter, which he is, he just isn't and was never going to be this generation's best fighter. He can be one of this generation's high-level fighters, but to crown him what the media tried to crown him is just ridiculous."
To strike a note of solidarity with my media brethren, I will say oftentimes we do simply act in a "we report, you decide" manner. Broner himself pushed the idea that the Mayweather era was passing and he was taking over the mantle, and yes, perhaps some of us could have examined his bona fides more judiciously. But ultimately, I think the magnifying glass and critiques are best aimed at the boxer, rather than the promoters who hyped him and the media which reported the hype chatter. And indeed, you see in the days after the Broner loss that fans agree; the level of contempt for the fighter is considerable and cringeworthy. You had some folks saying they don't need Santa to slither down the chimney, that Broner losing is all they need to make their holidays merry ones.
Check back for more from Malignaggi about what if anything Broner can do to rebound, and who he wants to target next.