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Can Broner Escape Floyd’s Shadow against Alakhverdiev?

Photo Courtesy of AP

At the ripe age of 26, former three-division world champion Adrien Broner has had a roller coaster of a career inside the ring, while creating his share of excitement and drama outside of it.

For a stretch of time he appeared as though he was going to be Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s successor, and often referred to his undefeated friend as his “Big Brother.” Much like Mayweather, Broner wasn’t shy about stirring up attention in the public eye, and garnered international attention by those who both loved him as well as the many who hated him.

Whether or not his ploys were simply to create positive and negative buzz about himself or to put his name on the map, Broner became a household name around the boxing world.

Love him or hate him, fans had to appreciate what he was doing inside of the ring. Although many claimed he wasn’t facing elite competition, Broner did what he had to do with the opponents in front of him, and put on a show en route to winning belts in three different divisions.

But as he strived to emulate and follow in the ways of his “Big Brother” Mayweather, he eventually fell short when he faced his toughest opponent in Marcos Maidana. This could have been the fight where Broner showed the boxing world that he was the next pound-for-pound star in boxing, but got outworked from Round 1 and suffered a unanimous decision loss, being sent to the canvas twice in the bout.

The loss not only shed Broner of his unblemished record, but proved he wasn’t infallible inside the squared circle. Many thought the loss would be humbling to the flashy boxer, and would knock him down a notch. But if anything Broner is true to who he portrays, and did a better job talking post-fight than he did throwing hands against Maidana in the welterweight title bout.

Fans and critics wondered if this was the end of the Broner era, ending as quickly as it seemed to start. But in the following three fights since the 2013 loss, Broner bounced back and earned consecutive unanimous decision victories. Again, the wins were over quality fighters, but not the best of the best. Nevertheless, the victories earned Broner a shot against one of the sport’s top fighters: Shawn Porter.

Broner was outmatched from the first bell, and got picked apart for 11 rounds before finding his rhythm and timing in the 12th round when he sent Porter to the canvas. To no avail, the knockdown was too little, too late.

That fight was less than four months ago, and now Broner has found himself another opportunity to collect a belt as he squares off against Khabib Alakhverdiev for the vacant WBA world super lightweight title in his hometown of Cincinnati. With his “Big Brother” announcing retirement following his win over Andre Berto, Broner has the chance to finally step out of  Mayweather’s spotlight and define himself as the champion he once was.

Like most sports, boxing’s about what you have done lately. All of the hype that once surrounded Broner has seemingly subsided, so he has nothing left to do against Alakhverdiev than get his hand raised and once again establish himself as a world champion.

Broner has shown that he has been able to get through the less than spectacular opponents, while falling short against top contenders. He needs to make a statement against Alakhverdiev, an opponent whom he can’t overlook; he needs to show that he is back and serious about getting back to champion status.

Fans can expect to see Broner combing his hair and looking cocky prior to the first bell, but they can also expect to see a more careful and precise version of him, too. While he undoubtedly will put on a show throughout the fight, as he always does, he likely knows the implications this fight has on what happens next in his career, and how important it is to emerge from the ring with the belt.

He may not be throwing hands with the biggest name in the sport, but this fight is by far the most important of Broner’s career. Love him or hate him, you can expect Broner to come out his best against Alakhverdiev and do everything he can to capture the WBA belt.

 

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