You won’t find too many fighters who’ve “come back” more than Adrien Broner. Frankly, the four-division former world champ hasn’t looked like a legit elite-level fighter for at least nine years now and has turned in some absolutely dreadful performances in many of his most recent outings.
However, his gift of gab and his ability to generate headlines has kept him a marketable figure, floating around the boxing main stage as a bankable B-side and a “maybe-possibly he can get back to form” fringe contender.
The occasional TV paydays and pay-per-view payouts apparently weren’t enough to keep him afloat financially, though, and they certainly weren’t enough to stimulate his competitive drive to once again become that fighter many were calling the next Floyd Mayweather.
Just about two years ago– and a year after a pay-per-view clash with Manny Pacquiao– the fighter calling himself “About Billions” was forced to admit in a court of law that he only really had $13 to his name.
That admission may just have been part of an effort to get out of paying court-ordered restitution to a woman he was convicted of assaulting in 2018. It was undeniable, however, that Broner was in a bad place.
Then came yet another second chance. Streaming service BLK Prime entered the boxing scene with a giant reserve of cash and a willingness to operate in the red while working their way into the already saturated boxing market.
A one-off Terence Crawford bout for a reported $10 million was first on the upstart company’s agenda, then came a three-fight deal with Broner for another reported $10 million.
The 33-year-old Broner, whose opponent has changed three times since the February 25 fight date was announced (from Ivan Redkach to Hank Lundy to now Michael Williams Jr.), insists that, this time, he’s taking his comeback seriously.
“I had to dig myself out of a dark place, man. I don’t think a lot of people understand,” Broner recently told Fight Hub TV. “But I’m here now and I’m on top of it and it’s time to make this sh*t work. I been saying it a lot lately and my motto for this fight is ‘f**k it.’ I really looked myself in the mirror and I said ‘f**k it, no more drinking, no more partying.’ The only way that I can dig myself out this hole is boxing…
“…So I have to just say ‘f**k it’ and put my head down and go to work and that’s what I did. It was tough. I’m talking about every mile, it was tough. But now we working, we feeling good and we here.”
Broner’s “dark place” revolved around indulgence in every aspect of his life, related to the partying lifestyle he once proudly showcased via social media videos. Ultimately, however, that lifestyle left him nothing but broke, alone, and far from where his talents suggested he could be.
“I felt like everybody was just looking at me and saying f**k me — not literally saying it but the way I was getting handled and the way I was getting treated, it was like ‘f**k him, let him go over here and keep f**king up and we just gonna leave him over there.’
“And that’s why I looked in the mirror and said ‘f**k it, you know what? It’s time to really stop the partying, stop the drinking, f**k everything. The only way you’re going to get yourself out of this hole is to get your sh*t together in the ring, get your sh*t together boxing, and that’s what I did.
“It’s been tough, man. I’ve had some long nights, I’ve had some long mornings, I’ve had long evenings. I’ve had long days that felt like months but I’m here, I wake up smiling, and even when I’m hurting I’m pushing through it and I’m going to be ready to go, February 25th.”
What’s promising in this latest “I’m back” is that the Cincinnati native is now taking full responsibility for his failings as a human being.
“Sometimes I be disappointed in myself because I know only I put myself in this position. I don’t blame nobody else.
“Could some things have been handled differently, yes, but at the end of the day I put it all on myself…I don’t go pointing no fingers, I look myself in the mirror and say ‘I’m at this point in my career, I’m at this point in my life because of you’ and the only way I’m gonna get right is if I make the changes, if I go out here and get on this road, if I do my track workouts — if I do this. So I can’t put it on nobody else. So that’s what I did and I’m back in a good place.
“A lot of people won’t understand it but it took a lot for me to get out that spot and doing the sh*t that I was doing, and I had to stop that cold turkey and really just say ‘f**k it.’
“I’m just going to take it a fight at a time, and my main focus is being sharp on Feb. 25th and after that we’ll see what’s on the table.”
Soon enough, boxing fans will be able to judge for themselves whether this Broner comeback is for real and not just a cynical grab at one more payday.