The typical succession plan for a potential pay-per-view kingpin is to make an assault on the biggest names in the division, fight the toughest fights for some entertainment value and then challenge the reigning pay per view monarch for supremacy.
That was the playbook that “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather used to become “Money” Mayweather – one of the highest paid professional athletes in the world. He defeated Oscar De La Hoya in the highest grossing pay-per-view match in boxing history and supplanted the Golden Boy as the sport’s top attraction.
Mayweather has said he will fight just five more times before hanging up the gloves, leaving a void at the top of the pay per view food chain once his multi-fight, multi-million dollar deal with Showtime network expires.
Adrien Broner, who will meet Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA welterweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, believes he is the man to fill that void. But Broner is not interested in challenging “The Man” – Mayweather – in the ring for the kind of orderly transition that launched the “Money” train.
“When it’s all said and done somebody has to take the place of the superstar,” Broner said. “And the way boxing is panning out, that guy will be Adrien Broner. It’s not set in my career that I have to beat Mayweather to be a superstar.”
Broner may refer to himself in the third person, but it is not going to stop boxing fans from demanding a Mayweather-Broner match if Broner blazes through a series of the best junior welterweight and welterweight boxers in the next year and a half.
Even so, Broner is adamant that he will not fight Mayweather in the future.
“No. Nope. Negative,” he said. “All you reporters ask the same (stuff). Negative.”
Part of it is that they both share the same manager, Al Haymon, the most powerful broker in boxing. And part of it could be that they have too much respect for each other to contemplate the possibility.
For now it makes for nice speculation, especially since Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) is moving up from the lightweight division for the first time to challenge for a welterweight title. Broner and his reps view Malignaggi as an adequate, but not too tough a test at 147 pounds. He is a boxer, but with just seven KOs on his resume, Malignaggi isn’t noted for his pop.
“Paulie is a boxer in the sense that he moves a lot,” said Mike Stafford, Broner’s trainer. “Boxing is hitting and not getting hit. Paulie gets hit a lot. You can’t say he’s a good boxer, because he gets hit a lot. Adrien doesn’t get hit. Boxing is both sides – offense and defense.”
A victory will give Broner another world title. He already holds the WBC lightweight title and won a WBO 130-pound title. This goes with his plan of ascending to the top of the pay-per-view mountain without having to lift a glove against Mayweather.
As far as his optimum weight, it’s hard to tell. There are certainly more intriguing matches for him at 140 and 147 pounds than there are at lightweight. He is only 23 years old so gaining weight is going to be easier than losing weight down the road.
How he holds up against Malignaggi will determine just how well he tolerates the move to welterweight. And whether his punching power travels two divisions will also be a determining factor. Broner’s 85 percent KO ratio is one of the highest in boxing.
“Power, you’re born with that. It’s like baseball,” Stafford said. “Henry Aaron still carried his power. He didn’t care who was pitching. He still hit home runs. If you’re a home run hitter, you’re a home run hitter. If you’re a knockout artist, you’re a knockout artist. God gave him that gift so he’ll never lose it.”
Stafford doesn’t see Malignaggi getting away from Broner’s power.
“I don’t see him going over six. He might be lucky,” he said.
Broner’s recent sparring partners have all weighed 160 pounds and higher. Something he did even as a lightweight.
“We have to use bigger guys because the smaller guys can’t stay in there with Adrien,” Stafford said. “We have to end up sending them home (after) the sparring session. He can’t spar (a) 135 or 140 pounder. He has to spar 150 or 160 pounders.”
Burnishing his reputation as a KO artist in the 140-pound division certainly will help make him a superstar. Boxing fans remain enamored of the knockout, which is why heavyweights became so popular. It is something that Mayweather doesn’t really pride himself on, though he has scored some spectacular stoppages in his career (see Ricky Hatton and Diego Corrales).
Broner believes his entertainment value is high and that will be enough to make him the main attraction in the sport soon.
“It’s really not who do I have to beat,” he said. “It’s the way that I beat my opponents. It’s the shows that I put on. No matter what, I’m going to entertain. So it doesn’t really matter who I’m in the ring against. Whether it’s Bobo or Bozo, I’m going to put on a hell of show and you’re going to watch it and you’re going to be entertained.”
Photos / Jeff Botarri-Golden Boy, Astrid Stawiarz-Getty Images