By Charles C. Davis, Jr. / @ccdavisjr
(Ed's Note: TSFJ sent Charles Davis to cover the Adrien Broner vs. Emmanuel Taylor fight in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Broner defended his WBA Light Welterweight championship. We asked Charles to take in the atmosphere and capture the essence of Broner, one of boxing's most enigmatic stars. Charles didn't disappoint. Enjoy.)
"The test of man is the fight that he makes. The grit that he daily shows. The way that he stands upon his feet. And takes life’s numerous bumps and blows". (From the poem "Test of a Man," author unknown)
“What’s the problem, Problem?!”
That was the phrase shouted out directly behind my ear as I sat in press row during round seven of last Saturday’s bout between Adrien “The Problem” Broner and Emmanuel “Tranzformer” Taylor. It was the voice of an older African-American gentleman in an olive-colored linen pantsuit and cream-colored Stacy Adams with a matching hat. It was the voice of someone who may have never met “The Problem” but may have been part of the village that raised Adrien Broner in his youth. His voice was one of thousands in attendance that came from folks who were Adrien Broner’s friends, cousins, play-cousins, uncles, aunties, supporters and haters. No matter their stations, all who descended on U.S. Bank Arena were there to see for themselves what, in fact, “The Problem” was.
"A coward can smile when there’s naught to fear. And nothing, his progress bars. But it takes a man to stand and cheer. While the other fellow stars."
A quote attributed to former Microsoft CEO and multi-billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates states, "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking that they can't lose." A cursory view of Adrien Broner’s professional boxing record outlines a career full of seduction only rivaled by the likes of Lady Eloise. Twenty-seven wins without experiencing defeat coupled with a co-sign from his “big brother,” the undisputed pound-for-pound best boxer in the world Floyd Mayweather, would leave most in Broner’s shoes believing that they can’t lose; that is, until he did. A devastating loss to Marcos Maidana didn’t just see Broner defeated; it found him outclassed in a unanimous decision. Immediately after the scorecards were read, Broner hurried out of the ring being pelted with trash by fans as he made his way back to the dressing room — a far cry from the infallible public persona that Broner would have us believe.
"It isn’t the victory after all. But, the fight that a brother makes. A man when driven against the wall, takes the blows of fate."
Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, an author and guest lecturer on African-American culture, states that for many young African-American males, what is often characterized as deviant behaviors are generally coping mechanisms. In other words, “If I can’t be as good as you, you can’t be as bad as me.” Growing up in Cincinnati, where educational attainment and life outcomes for African-American males mirror many abysmal national trends, it is not a stretch to assume that the classrooms of Cincinnati public schools may not have been the most welcoming environment for a young Broner. Broner has often waxed that boxing saved his life. Neighborhood bouts showed that while raw, Broner displayed pugilistic prowess.
With the proper tutelage, these early flashes of brilliance would eventually be honed into a world champion. Using this context, one is able to imagine how and why Adrien Broner evolved into “The Problem.” Perhaps Broner repurposed what were conceivably once negative sentiments about him through his adolescence into the flashy, cocksure fighter that we see today. After a glorified sparring match against Carlos Molina, there was no better place for Broner to return to show the world that “The Problem” was still a problem than Cincinnati, Ohio.
The match on Saturday was without question a Cincinnati affair. For a city that boasts two professional sports franchises, its rich boxing history is sometimes overlooked. Cincinnati has produced numerous world champions, including, most famously, Ezzard Charles aka "The Cincinnati Cobra" and Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, who happened to be in attendance for the fight. There was certainly more money to be had in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York City or Washington ,D.C., however Broner’s decision to locate his latest bout, along with what turned out to be a great undercard, in Cincinnati spoke volumes of how he feels about the place that raised him.
Cincinnati indeed returned the love and pride in spades. Emmanuel Taylor headed into a fight in which, quite honestly, there was no way he was going to win without a knockout. Knowing this fact, Taylor seemed determined to do just that. The first half of the bout saw both fighters trading rounds. Taylor would plod forward working the body, while Broner would attempt to steal rounds with 25-second flourishes at the end. The feeling in the arena was electric and ready to burst in anticipation of the knockout that Broner promised he would deliver. Round by round went by, and as the Taylor train appeared to run out of steam, Broner saw his opportunities coming more frequently. Then it happened.
In the final seconds of the 12th and final round, Broner gave light taps to both sides of Taylor’s head only to unleash a left hook that landed squarely on Taylor’s bearded chin, causing his eyes to look up at the ceiling as if he was viewing the spirit of God floating down from heaven like a dove. The decibel level in U.S. Bank nearly blew the roof off; literally everyone leapt to their feet. This was not just redemption for Broner, who jumped on a turnbuckle to flex his muscles for all those in attendance in a show that said, “We did it.” Broner toward the end of the fight sported a bloody lip and a cut above his eye. Winning isn’t always pretty, but to claim victory for and receive the love and admiration of those who know what it took to get to this point may be just the ambrosia that Adrien Broner needs.
"With his head held high. Bleeding, bruised, and pale!! Is the man who will win, fate defied, For he isn’t afraid to fail."
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