NEW YORK -- With each fight, Adrien Broner looks more and more like a man he admires: Floyd Mayweather. There is the distinctive shoulder roll style, a complicated defensive posture Mayweather has perfected and Broner has adopted. There is the sneaky power somewhat overlooked in Broner's deep bag of skills. And there is the flamboyance that both irritates and entices, a swagger that Mayweather owns and Broner has embraced.
Consider: Earlier this week, at a press conference to promote his WBC lightweight title defense against Gavin Rees (Saturday, 10:30 pm, HBO), Broner was at his best. He sat in Rees's seat on the podium, toyed with his placard and spent the bulk of the event pretending not to know Rees's name.
"It's not a gimmick," Broner said. "It's not fake. It's not a game. I don't put on a show for the cameras. You might take it as an act, but this is just me."
Broner's oversized personality is one of a growing number of reasons many have him pegged as boxing's next big star. Broner, 23, has undeniable talent, which has shined the most in recent fights. In July, Broner toyed with Vincente Escobedo, stopping him in the fifth round. And in November, in his biggest fight to date, Broner destroyed 135-pound titleholder Antonio DeMarco over eight rounds. Both fights surpassed one million viewers on HBO, reinforcing his appeal.
"I'm a professional entertainer," Broner (25-0) said. "I love to entertain. I love to put on a show. I'm a legal bank robber. The way I make these fights look, you don't think I'm robbing a bank? It's easy money."
"I know people don't take me seriously sometimes. I was always told that if everybody likes you, then somebody's lying. You're going to have people that like you and some people that dislike you."
Broner had hoped to be fighting fellow titleholder Ricky Burns on Saturday, but Burns priced himself out of the fight. Instead, Broner gets Rees (37-1-1), a former 140-pound champion who won't be hard to find. There are plenty of calls for Broner to move up to 140-pounds, where there is a deeper pool of challenges, but for now Broner says he isn't in any rush. For now, he is content to continue campaigning as a lightweight, dominating what he firmly calls his era.
"I'm always motivated and it isn't about the money," Broner said. "I know that's going to be there. I'm worried about my legacy. I want to be the best boxer ever. That's why I do things that people haven't done before. Saturday night is going to be fun. I've been boxing for so long. I've seen so many styles. It takes me a round or two to adjust to a certain style. You never know what your opponent will bring to the table. People think I'm overlooking this guy, but I respect every boxer 110 percent."
Wladimir Klitschko-Bryant Jennings gaining steam
Unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is closing in on a deal to defend his titles against U.S. heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings, multiple sources told SI.com. The targeted date is May 4.
Finalizing Klitschko-Jennings will depend on the involvement of HBO or Showtime. Klitschko (59-3) is counting on Jennings (16-0), a fast-rising prospect who blossomed into a well-known contender fighting regularly on NBC Sports Network last year, to draw the interest of one of the two top premium networks. If HBO or Showtime are interested -- a source says HBO is -- Jennings will be the opponent. If not, Klitschko will turn to Italian heavyweight Francesco Pianeta, in a broadcast that will likely be shown in the U.S. on Epix and EpixHD.com.
The date is notable because it is when pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather has announced he plans to return to the ring. However, there is a growing sense in the industry that Mayweather, who has yet to name an opponent, won't be ready to fight in May. One scenario is that one of the premium networks buys Klitschko-Jennings and makes a split site doubleheader with Saul Alvarez, who is also expected to return on May 4. In interviews, Alvarez says his opponent will be undefeated titleholder Austin Trout.
HBO has used a Klitschko fight to boost a major event before: Last September, HBO bought Vitali Klitschko's title defense against Manuel Carr, which was shown on the undercard of Andre Ward's super middleweight title defense against Chad Dawson.
Adamek passes on title eliminator
Heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek has elected not to face Kubrat Pulev, removing himself from an IBF title eliminator fight that could have led to a matchup with unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
In a statement, Adamek cited a more lucrative opportunity in Poland.
"I have been offered an opportunity to fight in Poland for far more money than I would get for fighting Kubrat Pulev," Adamek said. "Meaning no disrespect to Pulev, he has never held a major title and never headlined a televised card. Any money generated by the promotion would, for the most part, be generated by my popularity. I owe it to my family to engage in the most financially rewarding bouts, and engaging in a bout with Kubrat Pulev at this time simply does not make financial sense.
"I have spoken with the president of the IBF, Daryl Peoples, and informed him that, for the above reasons, I have withdrawn from the IBF box-off. I also thanked the IBF for the support it has shown me and the sport of boxing over the past years."
Representatives from Main Events and Sauerland Event had discussed a deal, but the money was never good enough for Adamek to accept a fight with Pulev, a dangerous heavyweight with virtually no fan base. At 36, and clearly in decline, Adamek preferred to cash in on a few more lucrative fights. He gives up a chance to become Klitschko's mandatory, but with the heavyweight division empty of big names, he could get a title shot against Klitschko down the road anyway.
Meteor strike in Russia stuns Sergey Kovalev
On Thursday, a meteor the size of school bus and brighter than the sun hurtled from outer space towards Chelyabinsk, Russia at a speed of 40,000 miles per hour, crashing into the rural Russian town and creating a blast the equivalent of 300,000 tons of TNT, according to NASA. An estimated 1,200 people were injured and 3,000 buildings were damaged in the explosion.
Light heavyweight contender Sergey Kovalev is from Chelyabinsk and was stunned by the disaster.
"I was shocked to find out what happened last night in my home town Chelyabinsk," Kovelev said. "The news shook not just Russia, but the whole world. I contacted my family and friends as soon I heard about it. Everyone was OK, just scared because they did not know what happened. In the Ural mountain region we never have any kind of Mother Nature disasters. When the meteor shower started exploding in the sky and hit, the earth start shaking. My family said people got very scared and did not know what to do."
"I am thankful [that] no one was killed. I thank God my family and friends were safe. I am very sorry for the people in my hometown who were injured and suffered distress from this natural disaster."
"I am grateful to all of the people who have contacted me and my promoters to express their concern."
Five Questions...with junior welterweight contender Kendall Holt
Kendall Holt: Absolutely not. Anyone who gets caught using drugs should be stripped of their title and suspended. People's lives are in danger. PED's are out there, but the only time i think about it is when a reporter asks me. Because no matter what, I still have to go in and fight. I can't let the possibility that someone could be using something bother me. If they are on it or not, I still have to execute the game plan.
KH: It means my speed and power are there together. My punches are fast, and they come out of nowhere. It hasn't been like that in some years. I had surgery back in August and the rehab went very well. I'm completely healthy, and it makes me a better fighter because the confidence is there, and I know I won't hold back. Before I was second guessing myself. Not anymore.
KH: Shane came through for me, big time. Being around him was a confidence-builder, period. For him to take time to come and spar with me meant a lot. Not only to spar but afterwards give me feedback and some insight into what i can do better, what I can add to my game. Little tricks.
KH: Absolutely. Shane can do what he wants. He is always in shape. Whatever transpires that made him lose focus or lose confidence in the past, he has that back. He is still fast, still has the movement, still can knock a building down. I don't know if he just didn't want to do it before, but he is showing he can do it right now. He can rumble with the best of them.
KH: My experience, my speed, and my power. He has fought a couple of power punchers but he has been down to lesser punchers than me. I'm confident. not too many people that can stand up to my power. If he does, so be it. I can win a decision. It's fair to say that in the past, I lost focus quite a bit. Not this time. I had a real training camp away from home. I'm ready. This is life and death right now. I'm going in that ring prepared to die. It can change my life, can change my two kids' life. There is nothing I won't do to win
Ten Things I Think, and yes I'm ripping off Peter King
Mayweather Sr. is a well-credentialed trainer and was the driving force behind his son's success early in his career. But Senior has a habit of working on his own schedule, while Floyd Jr. is maniacal with his training habits, often working out in the early hours of the morning. Given the volatility of the relationship, it's natural to question whether these two strong personalities can work together.