The music doesn’t come on until Adrien Broner enters the room.
It’s a bit past 7 on a recent Monday night, and Las Vegas’ Mayweather Boxing Club is so quiet—and hot—that you can hear the barely audible rustle of a lady fanning herself as she sits ringside amid rows of beige plastic chairs.
A few fighters mill about silently as a museum-like hush envelops this museum-like setting, where framed Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight posters are positioned high on the mirrored walls and a half-colored mural of the Mayweather family awaits to be finished.
But then Adrien Broner (30-1, 22 KOs) walks through the door and the silence dissipates as swiftly as the steam rising from boiling water—which, in a way, is just what Broner does: bring things to a boil.
The stereo comes on, the chatter picks up, and the mood becomes as bright as the yellow-and-green TMT (The Money Team) logos checkered across various banners and ring turnbuckles.
Broner’s like a rising tide of personality that buoys the spirits of those around him.
This is the kind of presence that Adrien Broner has—both in the gym on this particular evening and in the sport of boxing in general.
He gets people talking, and it doesn’t really matter what they’re saying, because his voice drowns them all out any way.
After loosening up with his strength and conditioning couch, Broner climbs into the ring for a sparring session.
Once there, his mouth, feet and fists never stop moving, all in unison, like a funk band’s synchronized dance moves.
Broner’s akin to a pool player calling his shots, the difference being that not only does he tell his sparring partner what punches he’s going to land prior to throwing them, he also forecasts what his opponent is preparing to fire back at him, often with remarkable accuracy.
“Can’t touch me!” Broner howls as the action begins.
This is his mantra.
He says it over and over, like it’s the chorus of his theme song, as he slices across the ring.
“Here come your right hand—too sharp for that,” he tells the other fighter.
“See that? All day,” he exhorts as the guy fires and misses, putting in a few rounds of work before a new sparring partner is laced up and brought into the ring.
“That’s another beatin’ for the day,” Broner chirps in between sips of water.
Then, the fighting resumes, and so does the running commentary.
“Great defense!” Broner says—twice—speaking of himself as his opponent attempts to press the action, getting Broner on the ropes where he catches everything the other fighter throws.
“I’m shadowboxing,” Broner taunts.
When the session is over, Broner turns his attention to the ring next to his, where stablemate and rising 135-pound fighter Robert Easter is getting some sparring work in.
“Let loose!” Broner commands of Easter. “Abuse him like you don’t know him.”
Soon enough, Broner will have to follow his own advice.
He’s known his next opponent, Shawn Porter (25-1-1, 16 KOs), who he fights Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, since both of them were kids, star amateurs who rose through the ranks together in their native Ohio.
“I grew up under them guys,” Broner says of Porter's team after his training for the day is done. When not attempting to command the attention of the room, he tends to speak softly, with confidence supplanting volume. “They were always older than me, but in all the tournaments that I would win, they would win. They would root for me and I’d root for them, too. There’s no bad blood.”
According to Broner’s trainer, Mike Stafford, his fighter’s familiarity with Porter was added incentive for making the fight in the first place.
“That’s one of the reasons we took this fight, because we felt like he would train for Porter,” Stafford says. “He knew with [Porter] there wouldn’t be any slacking. He knows that Porter is coming.”
And when he comes, Broner says that he will be waiting, no friendship getting in the way of his fists.
“That’s just who I’m fighting,” he says of Porter matter-of-factly. “And that’s who’s got to get it.”