The word "promise" is used loosely in the sport of boxing, but never has it been more appropriate for a fighter than in the case of Adrien "The Problem" Broner.
At age 22, with only 23 pro fights and few rounds of action against top opposition, it would be hard for any other fighter to have garnered enough praise to be considered one of the best fighters of the new generation. But the boxing talent and athletic prowess displayed by Broner in his short career appear to be enough to define him as a future multidivision champ and potential top pound-for-pound fighter.
With a title belt in his possession, Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) returns to the ring Saturday (HBO 10:00pm ET/PT), in his hometown of Cincinnati, looking to add depth to his résumé with a victory against proven contender Vicente Escobedo (26-3, 15 KOs) of Woodland, Calif. Broner is hoping to get a few more rounds of action than in his previous encounter, when he crushed mandatory contender Eloy Perez in four rounds with a frightening display of power and speed.
Never at a loss for words, Broner is a superb self-promoter with a gift for gab and some of the most flashy ring antics in the sport. Known for having his father brush his hair while he is doing postfight interviews and for his flamboyant ring attire, Broner shows a self-confidence that other fighters take years to develop -- and the ability that most fighters will never achieve. Love him or hate him, he is one of the guys to watch.
ESPN.com caught up with Broner for a colorful interview during the buildup to Saturday's fight.
How has the training gone for this fight?
The training is going great. Actually, I've been ready since before, so I am just staying ready and staying sharp. I am doing 15 or 18 rounds of sparring, you know, straight, no rest. Right now, it's just about waiting for fight time. I am just having fun, and that's what I do. If it ain't fun, I am not doing it. I am just ready to get on HBO and have a great show and let everybody see me again. Preparation is hard work. In the gym, we're always training hard, but when the fight comes, that's when it's fun. It's like a celebration. You go up there and celebrate what you've been working on. Every fight for me is fun.
How important is it for you to fight in front of your local fans? Does it add a lot to your confidence?
This fight is going to be special because it's going to be back home in Cincinnati, and they love to see me fight. It's a lot of fun because a lot of the people who come to see me, I know them and they know me. I am from Cincinnati, born and raised, and there's not a soul there who I haven't bumped into, so it's like a big family reunion.
Do you enjoy these fights, perhaps knowing that each one could be your last in Cincinnati as you become bigger and are likely headed for big fight towns such as Las Vegas or Los Angeles?
One thing about it is that I don't really look forward to fighting in Vegas because I have a big following at home, so we're going to try to keep HBO coming back to Cincinnati. I would love to fight in Vegas, you know, and if there is a fight in Vegas, then so be it. But we're going to keep in mind that I got a good following here and they love to see me fight there, and we're going to try to keep boxing in Cincinnati and bring back boxing to Cincinnati, like in the days when Aaron Pryor was around.
Speaking of him, do you think there is a Cincinnati style of fighting in the mold of Pryor, with that flashy and fast defensive style of his?
Of course. Coming into the gym, Aaron Pryor was one of my first coaches, and I grew around some great fighters, like Aaron Pryor, Ricardo Williams, all those guys. And seeing them around, some of that had to rub off on me because that's one of the reasons that I fight like I fight. But for the most part, this is all Adrien Broner, you know, fresh and flashy.
What's your take on Escobedo as a fighter?
I know he is going to come to fight. He is going to be in world-title shape. He was an Olympian. He is good. He is a world-class fighter. This is not going to be a walkover fight for me, you know? This is a step up for me. But it doesn't matter to me who is on the other side of the ring; I have to get him. I am ready. I don't watch any tapes, I don't sit at home and think about what I have to do, I don't do any of that. I know I am God-gifted, and I have to use this talent that he gave me to train my butt off and go out there and have fun.
You have achieved a lot of recognition during your short career. Do you feel the pressure of being already considered a top pound-for-pound fighter?
I always wanted to be a world champion, all my life. At 13, I told my mom I would be a world champion. But I've heard that it's hard to achieve something, but it's harder to keep it. And now that I have this world title, I really get the meaning of that. It makes me work harder. So I don't feel the pressure. I am the one bringing the pressure on the other guy. If you wake up one day and think, "I have to face Adrien Broner in my next fight," what can you really do? I don't let the pressure get to me. I leave it to the other guys.
You have been a colorful character from the beginning. Do you fear there is a chance for you to overdo it or turn fans off with your antics?
All my life I've been a show-off. Ever since first grade I was a clown, and even then I tried to entertain everyone. I was born for this. I feel that, when I am in the ring, I am not just a professional fighter; I am an entertainer. And that's what I do. I put on a good show. So, yes, I want the fans to love me, but I am not going to change it just because I am on TV or because somebody's looking. I am going to be me. So if they love it, I am going to keep doing it, and if they hate it, I am going to keep doing it. But as long as I have people who love me, I am going to give that love back. And if I have someone who hates me, I am still going to give them love because they'll still watch my fights to see me lose, so they're going to come see me fight.
How do you take the comparisons with Floyd Mayweather Jr.? How much of an influence does he have in your style in and out of the ring?
I am not trying to be Floyd. But the first time I saw Floyd, I fell in love with his style, and I saw there are a lot of things that he does that I can do. And that's what I do; I take some of what he has and put it in my own style, and then once I get in the ring, I'd be me. Outside of the ring, I don't try to be that man, you know. He is his own man. It just happens that we have some similarities in the way we box, and we're both outgoing and outspoken. But he tries to be quiet and be the nice guy, and I am not saying I am a mean guy, but I feel that anybody I fight is trying to take food out of my kid's mouth and he is the enemy.
It seems the most interesting future opponents are in lower weight divisions coming up, such as Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa and maybe even Nonito Donaire. How long would you be willing to wait for them to come up and meet you?
This is my last fight at 130. I don't need those guys. They're good, you know, and those would be fan-friendly fights and everyone would like to see them happen, but I don't need those guys. I am building my own legacy. I don't need to feed off of Donaire or Rigondeaux or Gamboa. If those guys want to fight me, they can stand in line, and one day we'll make it happen. But I am going to move on with my career. I am not going to sit down and wait on no fighter. After this fight, I am going to go up to 135. There are some great fights up there, and we're going to put pressure on those guys now.
What's the one fight that I should recommend to someone who hasn't seen you fight?
Honestly, I haven't been at my best yet, but if I had to pick ... I had a lot of great performances, even the ones that weren't televised. I remember when I fought Ilido Julio [a first-round TKO in 2010], but I like them all. To me, the best hasn't come yet because I haven't fought nobody that made me bring the best out. So I get in, and I'd be working on things and trying to get things going, and then the fight would be over. The fans haven't seen the best of Adrien Broner yet.
How do you envision Saturday's fight in your mind?
Oh, man! I mean ... just watch the fight! Every time Adrien Broner is on TV, you have to watch it. You can't change the channel because you never know what you're going to see, man. I might punch the guy, do a backflip and then knock the guy out after that. I don't know. I just go there and have fun.