LAS VEGAS — Those who believe Adrien Broner will upset the odds Saturday night and finally win a big fight keep echoing the same sentiment: “This is a different Adrien Broner.”
But Wednesday afternoon at the final press conference for his first pay-per-view headlining bout, we saw the same Broner. There were certainly moments where he gave thoughtful answers to reporters’ questions. But it was again overshadowed by unprofessional conduct beforehand.
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Broner complained, saying Showtime PPV went cheap on the promotion for his fight against Manny Pacquiao.
“I’m pissed off for real,” Broner said when he took to the dais. “Coming in here doing this press conference in this little ass room. When I went to the Mayweather fight and Pacquiao fight, they was in that big ass place, and it was mass people around. They just let the media in here I guess. They didn’t spend no money on our shit like our fight ain’t nothing. I see what they trying to say. They ain’t gonna do this shit anymore when I win. I swear to God.”
Broner comparing his fight against this version of Pacquiao to the Filipino icon’s fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. shows just how delusional Broner is when it comes to his market value. Broner is coming off a draw against Jessie Vargas, a fighter who was soundly beaten by Pacquiao a few years ago — and yet he has the biggest opportunity of his life.
Also, imagine if you’re Showtime or the people who have guided Broner to this stature. The first chance he got, he showed disapproval of the job they’re doing. He acted like a petulant, spoiled child, and nobody stopped him.
Broner followed that up by attacking one of the smattering of boxing personalities that is universally liked — Showtime analyst Al Bernstein.
In 10 years of covering boxing, I’ve never heard a negative word about Bernstein. So, when Broner refused to answer his questions after the press conference, it was surprising. When he followed that up by calling the venerable commentator a “b— ass n—,” it was shocking. Bernstein tried directing his questions to Broner’s trainer Kevin Cunningham. Broner interrupted, saying “gang gang” and that his team will follow his lead. Cunningham fell in line and ignored Bernstein’s question, leaving him out in the cold.
The Cincinnati product followed that exchange up with racially-insensitive comments targeting members of the Filipino press. Broner’s comments directed at Bernstein were the talk of boxing Twitter, due to Bernstein’s standing as one of the sport’s true good guys.
Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza has a close relationship with Broner, having been the network home for most of his fights dating back to 2013. Even Espinoza seemed taken aback by Broner’s comments.
“Al Bernstein is one of the most well-respected analysts in boxing,” Espinoza told Sporting News on Thursday. “Adrien has a right to his opinion, but the manner and language he used is unacceptable. We will address this directly and privately with him.”
Broner said that he had seen Bernstein make negative comments about him on Twitter. So, for laughs, I decided to do a Tweetdeck search on @AlBernstein using the phrases “Broner,” “Adrien Broner” and “Adrien” to see what the worst Al could have said about Broner.
As expected, they were mostly pretty tame. Bernstein scored Broner’s draw against Jessie Vargas from this past April in favor of his opponent, adding that “as usual Broner tarnished things a bit with his boorish postfight behavior.” He also laughed “well eloquently put by Broner LOL” referencing his comments targeting Keith Thurman: “After I F— up Vargas, I want you B—!” last March. Bernstein has also referred to Gervonta Davis as “a much better fighter than Broner” with “more skills” and he “works harder at the sport.”
These are reasonable criticisms and opinions, far below what would make what Broner said about him acceptable.
Going further back, I did find a couple of more stinging Bernstein tweets. After Broner defeated Ashley Theophane in April 2016, Bernstein tweeted the following:
Now Broner has to face his biggest challenge–staying out of jail.
Considering Broner is currently facing two court cases as he awaits the biggest fight of his career, is Bernstein really off base?
“@AdrienBroner: Bitches ain’t shit” ok, there must be some kind of deep symbolism to this erudite Broner tweet. I can’t quite get it. Help?
There was, of course, the gross promotion of Broner’s fight with Paulie Malignaggi, integrating a storyline where Broner says he stole his opponent’s woman. Malignaggi wrongly engaged the topic, referring to the woman as his “sidepiece.” Bernstein, like many of us in the media, had a problem with Broner’s antics;
Broner’s interjection of the “girlfriend” issue into this fight weeks ago and and reintroducing it this weekend was classless.
One thing that must be said about Bernstein — he’s never been anything, but fair to Broner on Showtime broadcasts. He’s as professional as it gets — the polar opposite of Broner in every way.
As fights draw closer, Broner always adopts a him against the world mentality. When engaging with reporters, he made note of which reporters had written negative things about him. In the past, it hasn’t translated into victory in the ring. Perhaps Saturday against Manny Pacquiao will be different. If not, he will again be remembered for his boorish behavior surrounding the fight, which alone has been enough to earn him marquee fights. Why change now?
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