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Marketing Adrien Broner

By Alec Kohut


As Adrien Broner completely dominated Antonio DeMarco last November in Atlantic City, it was clear that the brash, trash-talking kid from Cincinnati could actually be on his way becoming an elite fighter. In the bars along the Boardwalk after the fight, fans and writers alike speculated on the next move of this possible future superstar.
 
Two names were not uttered in the bars that late night and early morning. Those two names, however, were at least conjured in the minds of people in the penthouses far above the riff-raff populating the common bars of the Boardwalk. In the minds of people who see boxing as just another business and moneymaking scheme like Swiss banking, the names Gavin Rees and Paulie Malignaggi emerged front and center.
 
It’s a pretty simple concept; if money can be made be simply marketing this kid, what’s the use in risking that against solid, legitimate competition? After all, he could lose his “0”.

And by the HBO ratings, the Swiss banker is right. Boxing fans would rather watch Broner beat up the hopeless, overmatched and much smaller Rees than an action-packed rematch of 2012’s “Fight of Year.” While 1.2 million viewers watched the all-action Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II war, 200,000 more boxing fans watched the sham that was Broner vs. Rees.
 
Talking to Tom Hauser a few years ago, Bob Arum referred to some to HBO fights as “dog sh*t.” Well, if we as boxing fans give higher ratings to dog sh*t over competitive, action packed fights, we asking for more dog sh*t. And we will get it.
 
The Golden Boy Promotions hype machine went into overdrive and Adrien Broner was everywhere. In February, he was ringside smiling for the cameras on ESPN2 at the Lamont Peterson vs. Kendall Holt fight on Friday night and boarded a plane to do the same for Showtime on Saturday evening. The following month, he took a detour to Miami and stayed front and center with an arrest for battery.
 
So it was only natural for the powers that be to have Broner leapfrog the highly competitive junior welterweight division and jump to welterweight where a soft-punching titlist named Paulie Malignaggi was waiting.
 
It was a great fight, with both men giving as good as good as they got, taking turns hitting the other where it really hurts. The back-and-fourth struggle continued, at least until the night of the actual fight and the opening bell sounded.
 
The winner of the prizefight itself was really never in doubt. Broner allowed the “Magic Man” to hit him with soft pitter-pat touches most of the night before landing just a few hard punches of his own during most rounds to earn the win. Only an amateur judge using an amateur scoring system could afford Malignaggi the benefit of the doubt.
 
Broner himself was lackluster in his performance, seemingly happy to take the win without ever  making a statement by forcing the action and actually trying to score a knockout. Among social media outlets, some fans posted after the fight that Broner should not have been an 11-to-one favorite going into the contest. I agree; Broner should have been a 30 or 40-to-one favorite. Let’s face it; Paulie probably fought the best he could against Broner. Broner gave a far from great display of boxing and still…Malignaggi didn’t have a chance.
 
But Broner’s less-than-spectacular showing did nothing to slow the Golden Boy hype train. Immediately following Broner’s win, Golden Boy made sure its subsidiary The Ring magazine remained the head of the hype machine’s sensationalism department. Writer Tim Smith quickly dispatched his (of course, unbiased and independent) view of Broner’s performance as…“dazzlingly dominant.” Yes, The Ring called Adrien Broner “dazzlingly dominant” against Paulie.
 
[Writer’s third-person extravaganza note: Mr. Kohut has also learned that Tim Smith will likely receive some form of commendation for the piece by the esteemed Boxing Writers Association of America.]
 
So what’s next? Don’t be surprised if Broner’s next fight is against Shane Mosley or worse, Lee Purdy. Or considering he is now the WBA world champion, how about WBA number one-ranked Diego Chaves? Oh no, Chaves is fighting Al Haymon’s guy, Keith Thurman, for the interim WBA world title.
 
So who’s the next highest-rated WBA welterweight? Well, Marcos Maidana is at number two. This would actually be a great fight to make, so can they do it? My gut tells me no. Maidana is too high risk. A loss to Maidana would lower Broner’s stock further than a win would increase his value.
 
But the writing is on the wall. The June WBA ratings showed “The Lion” Ed Paredes sitting at number three on the WBA rankings. Paredes is undefeated in 37 professional fights, unless you include the three fights in which he lost. He’s won 11 straight fights and is in absolutely no position to demand more than a case of beer and a bus ticket home for taking the fight.
 
We just might have our winner! It looks like the Broner vs. Rees rematch will remain on the backburner as boxing fans prepare for the “Future of Boxing” to step to challenge Paredes. A fight sure to guarantee a solid count of stupid boxing fans who will watch any, as Bob Arum would say, dog sh*t Showtime will air.
 
Questions or comments can be directed to aleckohut@hotmail.com. You can also follow Alec on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alecmaxboxing and visit him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alec.kohut.
 
 
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