by Kieran Mulvaney
As the rain outside pours from the sky above Cincinnati, a small entourage files into the hotel lobby.
First to emerge from the elevator is Levi Smith, hand-wrapper, cut man and corner sage, experienced and unflappable. He is followed by J.P., a large specimen of humanity whose job is to eye approaching strangers warily and who fulfills his duties instantly as he fixes me with an uncertain glare. Then Mike Stafford – “Coach Mike” – in his defining pose: bag over one shoulder, cellphone in his other hand, pressed to his ear. He looks up, smiles, offers a hand, returns to his conversation.
Quietly, unannounced, the fighter himself appears. He looks the part: face half-hidden behind huge shades, ear buds connected to an iPhone, muscles straining against his shirt. But there is no crowd, nobody seeking an autograph, and the thought that immediately occurs is that this is surely one of the last occasions on which that will be the case. Two days before an HBO fight against Vicente Escobedo, in his hometown, and Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner is able to walk from elevator to valet stand unmolested and undisturbed. It is a relative anonymity. But if, over the next couple of years, Broner’s career tracks along the path that so many have predicted for it, such anonymity will soon be a thing of the past.