Boom or bust time for Adrien Broner

Kevin Iole
Despite a pitiful effort in a loss to Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner will get another title shot. (Getty Images)

It's not difficult to call Adrien Broner a bust, despite world titles in three weight classes before his 24th birthday and a 30-2 record with 22 knockouts.

Adrien Jerome Broner, 26, is a professional boxer, but he's hardly professional. The former WBO super featherweight, WBC lightweight and WBA welterweight champion has repeatedly failed to train for bouts and either lost to men he should have beaten or not given the fans their money's worth.

There is one thing that Broner has going for him as he heads into his super lightweight title bout with Khabib Allakhverdiev on Showtime on Saturday in Cincinnati that is more important than the hand speed, the quickness, the agility and the punching power that have been plainly obvious in his seven-plus years as a pro: his age.

Broner is two months past his 26th birthday, an age when the majority of professional athletes are in their prime.

Broner still has a chance to make this all right, and to become what his talent suggests he should have been long ago.

It's no less of a joke that he's fighting for a world title just three months after giving very little effort in a one-sided loss to Shawn Porter in a bout on NBC.

When Broner finally gave a damn, when he realized that he was being trounced, he went out in the 12th round and very nearly finished Porter. That's the fighter he's capable of being when he shows he cares.

So far, all he's shown is that he cares about being rich and famous, hob-knobbing with rap stars and other celebrities and being the center of attention.

It's never wise to count anyone out, though, let alone someone with the physical gifts such as Broner.

Broner is the prototypical guy with the million-dollar talent and the 10-cent head.

He's been coddled and cajoled for much of his life, because at virtually every step of the way, someone has recognized that enormous talent that exists deep within and realized that if he ever put it together, he'd just about have a license to print money.

That kind of attitude has led to him getting a title fight on Saturday after acting like he didn't give two hoots in his bout against Porter on network television. It's certainly contributed to the disappointment that he has become as a pro.

Broner isn't speaking to the media, and hasn't since he faced a torrent of criticism in the wake of his pitiful effort against Porter and of gaining this totally undeserved championship match against Allakhverdiev.

For those who don't care to speak to an egocentric man who quite often is crude and obscene, that is a good thing. Most boxing writers would tell you they wish he'd made this choice long ago.

But in an interview with Showtime, which released a clip to the media on Wednesday, Broner seems to say the right things.

"When you get so far doing things your way, sometimes you don't see what you've got to change until something happens like a loss," Broner said. "It's time to stop bull-s-------- and take my career seriously."

He noted that he needed to quit the horseplay, but perhaps the most important statement he made, for those who want to see him become the fighter he can be, came next.

"Where I am in the game right now, I'm still a student," Broner said. "I have so much more to do."

The key for Broner is to not only work to get into better shape, but to continue to refine his skills. He has a quality trainer in Mike Stafford, but he hasn't appeared to listen to him much.

But if Stafford has been able to finally get to him, as Broner suggests is the case, then there is still time for Broner to actually become a star.

"I felt like I was selling myself short," Broner said to Showtime. "I wasn't getting top dollar out of the performances that I've been putting on. You have to learn from your mistakes."

So this could be Broner's final chance. He's a talented guy squarely in the middle of his athletic prime. He's had enough wake-up calls to alert him to the fact that something is wrong.

He needs to humble himself a bit and listen to someone else. He needs to not worry about making jokes, being the life of the party, trying to be a celebrity, and instead concentrate on being the finest boxer he can be.

Because as his idol, Floyd Mayweather Jr. proved, if he maximizes his talents and becomes one of the best in the game, the money and the celebrity will be there.

It's up to Broner.

He still has time, but the sands are pouring out of the hourglass.

We'll learn on Saturday whether he's learned and whether he ever will.