It would be extremely difficult to suggest that Adrien Broner will face his toughest foe to date when he steps in the ring with John Molina Jr. on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Although that isn’t because Molina should be considered a soft touch. Molina is definitely a tough outing for any fighter, but Broner, despite some unrealistic expectations from the online community, has faced some tough opponents throughout his career.
You can make the argument that Marcos Maidana was Broner’s toughest opponent, and that would be a sound argument considering Maidana beat Broner and put him on the canvas a couple times throughout the fight.
There is an argument to be made that Antonio Demarco was considered a bigger threat in the lead-up to his fight with Broner as both were considered the two best lightweights in the world. Obviously, we expect Molina Jr. to give Broner a tougher fight, but that is only with the hindsight of Broner’s amazing performance. Demarco proved to be no match for Broner, but we didn’t know that heading into the fight, at least not for sure.
Paul Malignaggi could be considered a tougher opponent on Broner’s resume when you consider that Broner jumped up two weight classes to fight at welterweight. Also, Malignaggi was riding some incredible momentum at welterweight and had captured his title in a shocking performance the year before he met Broner.
It isn’t fair to judge anyone against Molina Jr. yet because the fight hasn’t happened and we can argue the tougher opponent comparisons with the knowledge that Malignaggi gave Broner all he could handle for a few rounds or Emmanuel Taylor did a lot more than most expected when he faced the flamboyant fighter from Cincinnati.
Still, the argument that this is Broner’s biggest challenge stands to reason when you consider the bright lights of national television and the expectations that are going into Al Haymon’ PBC series on NBC. Broner-Molina Jr. is the co-feature on a card designed to be the first of many that will ultimately bring boxing back to the mainstream market and revive it from its currently weak position in pop culture.
That is a lot for any fighter, but Broner has made it much more difficult on himself by insisting on being the cocky character he’s consistently portrayed. He has created the kind of persona that demands greatness, and he must live up to that greatness or face the wrath of all those that find him annoyingly arrogant.
This pressure is magnified when you add in a fighter like Molina Jr., who is as hungry as ever and is carrying the confidence that comes with the “Fight of the Year” honors he received for his surprising performance against Lucas Matthysse.
So when Broner says that he is going to knockout Molina Jr. and that his power will be on full display, he needs to understand that anything less will be ridiculed, at least by his detractors, which seems to make up the majority of people that actually know he’s a fighter.
“We gonna stop him,” Broner said in an interview after the PBC presser. It wasn’t just what he said, but how he said it. Maybe Broner is actually confident that he will get the stoppage, although he has to be aware of his lack of power since moving up from lightweight and even though he flashed some pop in his last outing, Broner has yet to record a stoppage since the move in weight.
However, it appeared to me that Broner was just talking and trying to sell the fight by selling himself. The problem with this is he might be unable to stop Molina Jr. and by putting this pressure on himself Broner has undoubtedly soiled his performance before it starts.
“What about my power? He’s got 35 fights with 22 knockouts; I got 30 fights with 22 knockouts, and we came from the same weight class. I’m just saying, after the fight, ask him how hard I hit,” Broner said.
First, Molina Jr. has 32 recorded fights total. Second, what Broner is leaving out is the knockout rate in victories. Molina has 27 victories with 22 by KO/TKOs while Broner has 29 wins with 22 KO/TKOs.
Broner might be placing too much emphasis on his power, and the last thing he wants to do is call attention to that power before such a highly spectated event.
Bottom line is if Broner says he’s going to knockout Molina then he better do it, and if he can’t then his performance better reflect a constant effort to achieve such an outcome. If not, he needs to restructure his persona to one that echoes a more humble fighter.