As the legendary careers of such greats like Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather reach their inevitable twilight, American boxing seeks a new star; and Saturday night that vacancy came one step closer to being filled.
Adrien Broner blocked, parried and pot-shotted his way to surprisingly close split-decision victory on the score-cards over welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi at New York's sold-out Barclays Center, in a fight that looked relatively one sided to most. Broner (27-0, 22 KO's), who promised a knock-out entering the bout, but was unable to put the stubborn veteran away, despite stunning Malignaggi several times. After a tense few weeks of promotion leading up to the fight, Broner's class ultimately prevailed against the outspoken Brooklyn native in his own backyard, winning his 3rd world title in as many weight classes at the still rather green age of just 23.
Despite Malignaggi's vaster punch output, it was the challenger who landed the cleaner, more effective shots throughout. “He couldn't hit me. He was shadow boxing”, claimed Broner. Stalking Paulie from start to end, “The Problem” maintained a tight defence, picking off the majority of shots coming his way and countering well.
Undeterred by climbing two divisions from lightweight, the Cincinnati native was the bigger, stronger man in the ring Saturday night in his first visit to 147 lb's. Yet Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO's) fought bravely till the final bell and reminded the fight fraternity once again of his heart. Disregarding his first fight with Juan Diaz, who many thought Malignaggi clearly won, the two-time world champion has only been defeated by elite fighters- Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and now Adrien Broner. The now reigning welterweight and lightweight champion Broner, joins the likes of Roberto Duran, Roy Jones Jr and Robert Guerrero in capturing a world title in just their first bout after jumping two divisions.
Broner's speed, defensive shell and in-ring mannerisms have for a couple of years now, drawn comparisons to pound for pound star Floyd Mayweather Jr.- of whom Adrien refers to as his “big brother”. Like Mayweather, the Ohio 3-weight king isn't shy in providing raw, uncut doses of his colourful personality, and his post fight interview served a perfect example of this, “It's a tremendous accomplishment. Who's doing it like me in the game? Nobody”, proclaimed Broner;- giving a crude evaluation of his performance. “Paulie fought exactly how I knew he was going to fight. Once he felt my power he got on his bicycle and I had to cut the ring off all night”.
The victory will certainly be a sweet one for Broner, in what put to bed weeks of back and forth trash talking from both parties in the build up to the fight. Despite his obvious talent, Broner is yet to hold a win over a real legitimate elite fighter; and while Malignaggi has been around the game for a long time, few gave him any chance going into the fight an 11-1 underdog. The Italian-American was very vocal in his distaste for Broner, claiming the 23 year old has had it easy in his career- mocking Broner's resume throughout the fight promotion.
The comments must have hit home, as Broner went on to boast that the fans can in fact pick his next opponent, taking a fight with whoever gains the largest percentage vote. In a perfect world this would be mouth watering to the boxing enthusiast, but due to conflicting promotional companies dividing the best fighters, remains unlikely to materialise.
Regardless of the bold claim, Broner's next foe looks to be set in stone already. Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, has speculated on numerous occasions that the winner of Malignaggi and Broner would go on to fight hard hitting Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana.
Fresh off his KO blow-out of Josesito Lopez earlier this month, Maidana (34-3, 31 KO's) a notoriously hard puncher would certainly test Broner's chin at at 147 lb's, and give us answers that Malignaggi, with 7 KO's, could not.