Adrien Broner and his desire to be great know no lines. The unbeaten former WBO junior lightweight titleholder, who moves up to 135 to challenge WBC titleholder Antonio DeMarco this Saturday at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., told the press on a Wednesday afternoon conference call that he thinks he will go down as the greatest boxer of all-time. Greater even than Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer whom he draws most comparisons to.
“Of course I will,” said Broner (24-0, 20 knockouts). “That’s what I’m pushing forward to. I know the work I gotta put in, those are big shoes to fill, and I only wear 6-and-a-half so it’s going to be tough.
“I’m trying to be better than everybody who ever laced up a pair of boxing gloves.”
Of course, such proclamations are par for the course. Before Muhammad Ali even won his first title, he let everyone know that he was “the greatest.” Even Floyd Mayweather himself ruffled more than a few critics by proclaiming himself superior to Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson on an episode of 24/7.
The similarities between the 23-year-old Broner and 35-year-old Mayweather are plentiful. Both are versatile boxer-punchers from the Midwest (Broner is from Cincinnati while Mayweather is a native of Grand Rapids, Mich.). Both are vocal and outspoken outside of the ring, providing good copy for sportswriters.
Mayweather, at the tail end of his career after having amassed an unbeaten mark of 43-0 (26 KOs) and world titles in five divisions, has been inactive since May following a brief prison stint and hasn’t announced any plans to return to the ring in the immediate future.
Like Mayweather, who started at 130 and challenged Jose Luis Castillo for his lightweight title in 2001, Broner is stepping up in weight to fight THE RING’s No. 1 contender in his first fight at 135. In the 26-year-old DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs), Broner faces a 5’10” aggressor with a three-inch height advantage who is making the third defense of the belt he won last year with an 11th-round stoppage of Jorge Linares in a fight he was on his way to losing.
The style contrast might be most similar to Mayweather’s 2001 conquest of the late Diego Corrales, a bout he took at the age of 23.
Despite some suggesting that their styles are similar, Broner says his in-ring approach is all his own.
“A lot of people say me and Floyd have a lot of similarities but at the end of the day you can go watch tapes and I definitely do things a lot differently from him,” said Broner. “Our defenses are a lot similar but when it comes to our fighting style and the way I fight, it’s totally different.”
When asked whether he desired to meet Mayweather in a passing-of-the-torch bout reminiscent of Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Henry Armstrong or Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis, Broner’s response was mixed.
“I don’t know, that’s like a big brother to me,” said Broner. “If it had to happen, then it has to happen. Who wants to fight their big brother?”
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.