If this return performance from Adrien Broner was meant to re-establish that a “focused” Broner could live up to the potential of younger Broner as future pound-for-pound superstar, it didn’t quite get to that. What Saturday night’s win on Showtime might have gotten to is that Broner can be better than he has been — that he hasn’t, at least, permanently regressed.
Khabib Allakhverdiev, especially a version coming off an 18-month layout, was certainly a step down from Shawn Porter and Marcos Maidana, Broner’s previous conquerors. Yet he also brought maximum effort and gave Broner hell through the first half of the fight. His pressuring style was the kind that had at times given Broner trouble — namely, the Porter and Maidana times — and a lesser version of it did same Saturday.
Ultimately, Broner’s gift of speed (and his lesser knack for timing) came into play, and Allakhverdiev’s face was getting all busted up. Yet confronted with this diminished force, Broner still took far too long to seize full advantage. Broner still doesn’t throw enough punches, still would rather showboat superfluously than impress everyone by winning in dominant style. He landed a nasty uppercut at one point that someone like, say, Gennady Glolovkin would’ve landed and said to himself, “Now is the time to throw seven more punches and knock this guy into oblivion.” This kind of thing wins fans in droves. Instead, Broner landed the uppercut and then took a stroll around the ring to strut about how nice his punch was. I suppose that kind of thing wins fans, too, but given the choice between winning in destructive style and chomping down a bunch of empty calories, Broner is gonna take the empty calories.
Finally in the 11th and 12th, Broner recognized that Allakhverdiev was a sitting duck and teed off on him the way one should a sitting duck, leading to a questionable but not especially worrisome stoppage. You wonder if he didn’t do so sooner because, for all the talk of how focused he was on reviving his career, he’s still a good 50 percent lazier than he could be.
As if to underscore that Broner was, at his core, a goof who isn’t very serious — even this new oh-so-serious version — he took the occasion of the post-fight interview to call out… journeyman Ashley Theophane? Because Floyd Mayweather had suggested it…? And then throw in some kinda lame Caitlin Jenner joke? It’s too bad that on Saturday night we got tantalized by the idea that Broner could be, if he so chose, better than he has been — and he still probably never will be as good as he should’ve been.
(Broner, left, Allakhverdiev, right; via)