|ESPN.com: Boxing||[Print without images]|
Whether he's delivering sound bites as one of boxing's best quotes or delivering knockouts as one of its best young prospects, unbeaten Adrien Broner rarely fails to entertain.
With a ruthless combination of speed, power and technique, Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) has lived up to his nickname as "The Problem" for his opponents. But due to his flashy in-ring antics, a blatant disregard (at times) for making weight and prior troubles with the law outside of the ring, Broner has occasionally been a problem for his own reputation, as well.
The Cincinnati native can be arrogant and boastful in one interview and in the next be equally humble as a father of five who speaks about the importance of family in light of what he has overcome.
But it's all of the above that make Broner, 23, a must-see attraction, whether he's rapping on the way to the ring, mixing in dance steps between punches or having his father, Thomas, comb his hair before the postfight interview.
A former junior lightweight titlist, Broner will move up to 135 pounds Saturday to challenge hard-hitting southpaw Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) for his lightweight title (HBO, 10 p.m. ET) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Broner recently caught up with ESPN.com during the final days of training camp leading up to the fight:
DeMarco will enter the ring Saturday with a three-inch height advantage. Is there something that he brings to the table specifically that causes you the most concern?
From the outside looking in, it appears that you're having as much fun as any fighter in the sport today. Where does that playful side come from?
It's just something my mom told me when I was younger. She said if I'm going to do anything, if it's my job or anything, then you have to have fun with it. I brought that to boxing. I love it to death and this is my fun.
You've said in the past that you're not just a fighter but an entertainer. Do you ever look back at other in-ring performers like Roy Jones Jr. and "Prince" Naseem Hamed and try to one-up them in terms of the entertainment value?
I've seen what they have done, but it's just me being me. I want to do things that no one has ever done inside the ring and outside the ring as a boxer and further my career in the entertainment business after I'm done with boxing. But for right now, we're going to put on great shows with my boxing skills, and the rest is just me being me.
The comparisons between you and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are inevitable because of your styles, and they likely won't go away anytime soon. Is that something that gets annoying to you, or do you look at it as a blessing?
It never gets annoying. He's one of the greatest boxers to ever lace up a pair of gloves in the sport, and I'm the future. It's another era starting. After Floyd Mayweather and [Manny] Pacquiao, I will be the cash cow and top guy in the next era.
What's your relationship with Mayweather like today? Are the two of you good friends?
Oh, definitely. He's like a big brother to me. Every time I see him, he gives me advice and tells me great things that I don't know about the business. He is a very down-to-earth guy.
Have the two of you ever worked out together and has he given you any pointers inside the ring?
Not yet, but I'm hoping that day will come very soon.
It would probably be fun to spar with him and match your skills up against him, right?
I doubt that [will happen]. But, you know, if it ever happened, it would definitely be confidential.
At just 23, you are moving up in weight at a steady pace, but how much do you think about getting a chance, right now, to fight the big names at 140 pounds or 147?
When you match my body size with my talent and my work ethic and my IQ as a boxer inside that ring, I really have it all, and I'm flexible enough to really jump up to any weight -- '40, '47 or '54, for the right opponent. I could really do what I want, really. But we can take it one fight at a time and keep pursuing my career.
Is it hard for you to be patient with potential opportunities out there for big-name opponents or is it easy for you given your age?
I was always told time is on my side. I'm young. Very young. I'm still growing inside the game and still learning myself. But I catch on fast. Even though I'm ahead of a lot of guys, I still have a lot to learn. We're gonna move slowly, and I've been told sometimes you have to walk slow. Even though you're faster than a lot of guys, you still have to walk slow.
What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome in your personal life that has made you a better fighter inside the ring?
Crossing over from being the guy I used to be to the professional -- one of the best boxers in the new era coming up. You know, I had to cross over from being a street guy [at 18, Broner spent more than a year in prison for an undisclosed charge] to strictly a professional who ... eats and sleeps just boxing. That's it.
Did you have a turning point or moment where it all came together for you in terms of how you needed to act in order to be a professional?
Yes, I actually did. I missed the [2008 Beijing] Olympics [while in jail], and then once I got out of trouble it was my mom who said: 'You can't be king of the streets and king of the ring. You have to pick one or the other.' And by the grace of God, I made my pick.
|Adrien Broner says his father, Thomas, deserves credit toward his career for far more than just his postfight hair-brushings.|
Aside from his ceremonial role of brushing your hair after fights, how important has the presence of your father, Thomas, been in your corner throughout your career?
I had a great support system with my mom, my dad (and they are still with me today), coach Mike Stafford, my co-promoter Andy Williams -- they've all been with me through this whole process, through everything. And [my dad] was just so on top of things. Even if I was wrong, he was there for me. He roughed me up at times when needed, but it always felt like I only got in trouble or got a whipping on if I had done something wrong with boxing. He just wanted me to do good and be better than what he was in life. It comes from him being that strict on me and my mom, and he really helped me out, and now I'm a world champion and I'm going for another championship belt next week.
Does it bother you that some observers look at you as a clown because of your outrageous persona on social media and some of your in-ring antics?
Of course you don't want to have a visual of a bad guy, but I knew what I was going up against. With me being myself, I'm going to have people looking at it like I'm a bad guy and [also] have people that understand me. At the end of the day, I'm going to be me. I want everybody to love me because I want to love back.
Your manager, Al Haymon, has such a mysterious public image due to his preference to work outside of the spotlight. What is one thing about him as a person that people would be surprised to know?
Al Haymon, one thing I can say about him, is he is a very honest guy. Very honest. He don't sell dreams, he makes dreams come true. And that's what he did for me.
You're an undefeated champion at 23 and one of boxing's top rising stars. But what's the best thing about being Adrien Broner?
The best part about being me at this point is staying victorious, of course, but also taking care of my family and kids. That's the most important part to me because they bring me life. I want to see them grow up and be whatever they want to be. With me doing what I'm doing today, I will be able to support them in the best way I could. That's the most important part to me.