Convicted Artist Magazine

Aug 19th
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boxing-greatsHave you noticed the example that Floyd Mayweather is setting for many young African American fighters?  Oh, I am not talking about his work ethic.  That is legendary, and many young fighters aspire to even be able to handle a Money Team workout.  I am not talking about his promotion skills.  That is knowledge that comes from experience, and nothing else.  I am not talking about his masterful defense.  Most fighters talk about being a warrior more than not getting hit, nowadays.  I am talking about the formula for which Mayweather has slowly but surely gaining acceptance, and Adrien Broner is following suit.  The "hate me first, love me later" template of success.
Floyd is not the first.  Ali was actually the first in boxing (it had been done for decades in wrestling) to employ the idea of "the ones who hate you will pay more to see you than the ones who love you" business model in practice.  Ali's humor after his losses, and personality, as well as history proving his stances justified, all helped out to change him from a pariah into a prince.  He is now one of the most beloved sportsmen in history.  Floyd has to be seeing that.  He shares Ali's work ethic, as well as extraordinary athleticism.  He knows that gimmicks be damned, it means nothing if you are not the best... the very best.
Adrien Broner had a fight last Saturday with Emmanuel Taylor, where he was clearly making the attempt to follow in those footsteps.  My prediction is not that he will make it or not, but that our hatred of him in boxing's popular culture will subside.  Like Floyd, who used to burn $100 bills and revel in his riches, gradually Broner is letting people into his more human side.  He is now giving respect to opponents, and adjusting during fights.  He found himself in there with the only close tough assignment he has had in his career besides Malignaggi.  Maidana beat him cleanly, and Broner has dominated everyone else.  So, this fight was all about growth.  He is telling us about his past, and speaking softer, while still maintaining the ego and showmanship that is his trademark.  Then, after it all, he finally adjusted and upped his punch output to defeat a determined contender.  He actually came on down the stretch, while still remaining active.
Of course, Floyd got to get well into his 30's before softening up and becoming more human.  Floyd actually didn't want to be the heel the way Broner and Ali seemed to choose from inception.  Floyd thought he would be a golden boy like The Golden Boy, and when it didn't happen, he harnessed his great skill into being the enemy, and the very best.  His unbeaten, untouchable status for many years meant he was able to keep his persona for longer.  After Broner's last few fights (an ill-advised move to 147), he has had to "get real" quicker.  He's been beaten, and bored people.
I am not saying Mexican fans are going to be cheering his name anytime soon, but Broner gave respect, while still trash talking, and ego-driving.  He let us in a bit to his life and struggles, and to top it all off, engaged in a good tough fight, and seemed to learn a lot along the way.  He even called out Matthysse and Garcia afterwards, meaning he is not shying away from competition.  After all, he is a more exciting fighter than Floyd, and no longer has an unbeaten record to coddle.  AB had let us down, but he proved last Saturday that love him or hate him, he is likely going to be in some entertaining scraps for the next few years.

Chris Strait

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Darrell La Montre |
I agree Chris. Floyd became the heel when he and/or his team realized that his skills and virtuoso performances were not enough to sell tickets. The ducking came once he got to 140 pounds and became a PPV attraction and was in a position to pick and choose his opponents. It frightens me to think how many future fighters who grew up with Floyd will follow suit when they are in the driver's seat to do so. As great as he is, he has been bad for boxing in that respect. We need more Ali's and less Mayweathers.
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