Adrien Broner apparently wasn’t pleased when his former longtime handlers informed him of a slight tweak to his risk-reward calculus.
For the longest time, the career of Broner, the multi-division champion from Cincinnati, was essentially determined by his adviser, Al Haymon, the founder of Premier Boxing Champions, the company which has an exclusive output deal with the premium cable network Showtime. Broner was one of the flagship fighters on the network and routinely given main event slots.
That working relationship came to an apparent end a couple of months ago after Broner announced a multi-fight deal with BLK Prime, a previously unknown subscription streaming service that managed to woo Broner with an "eight figure" (Broner's words) payday.
BLK Prime, whose ownership still remains something of a mystery, made a splash in the sport earlier this month when it staged the welterweight title fight between Terence Crawford and David Avanesyan, which ended with Crawford earning a sixth-round stoppage. Crawford, who holds the WBO 147-pound title, said he was paid $10 million for the Avanesyan fight.
BLK Prime's partnership with Broner will take off Feb. 25 in Atlanta, when Broner faces Ivan Redkach in a welterweight main event on pay-per-view. It will be the first time in nearly two years that Broner has fought.
In a recent interview, Broner stated that the money from BLK Prime was almost too good to be true, and too much, apparently, to turn down.
“The type of contract that I got, man, they ain’t giving out nowadays in this sport of boxing,” Broner said of his new benefactor on The Porter Way Podcast. “These guys (other fighters) is taking these tough-ass fights, getting that small-ass money and they (BLK Prime] done gave me [lots of money]—man, I’m just blessed. I’m just blessed, and I’m thankful and I’m ready to put on a show.”
Broner said the driving factor that led to his new alliance with BLK Prime was that his compensation from PBC would be directly in line with the level of opponent, a notion that, at least on the surface, makes a lot of economic sense. In other words, the tougher the opponent, the higher the payday; the easier the opponent, the lower the payday. But Broner apparently was not on board with that kind of sliding pay scale, the assumption being that in the past he was able to garner high paychecks against lower-tier opposition. When BLK Prime, Broner said, guaranteed him an extravagant purse not bound to the quality of the opponent, the boxer knew that he had to make a pivot. Broner was originally supposed to return to the ring in the summer in a Showtime main event against Omar Figueora, but he pulled out of the fight a week out due to mental health issues.
“Just think, right, you get a guy—no disrespect to Al Or PBC and [Showtime Sports head Stephen] Espinoza and them,” Broner said. “But they, like, [said] ‘aight, the type of money you want, you gotta go in there and fight Godzilla. But we gon’ pay you. But you gotta go fight Godzilla.’ Then you got a guy (BLK Prime) [that said], like, ‘aight we’ll pay you triple that and you can pick whoever the f--- you want to fight.’
“What? What? That’s unheard of.”
Pressed to comment on Broner’s claims, Timothy Smith, a spokesperson for PBC, responded, “We love Adrien and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.’’
Broner also mentioned other financial upsides by linking up with BLK Prime, saying that he will garner a far higher cut of pay-per-view sales and obtain those funds in a far timelier manner than if he were with PBC and Showtime. The two companies are not equivalent, however. BLK Prime, which has a scant track record, streams its pay-per-view events exclusively through the internet (“over the top”), while Showtime, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., which is a publicly traded company, has the ability to sell its pay-per-views on both linear and digital platforms. It is unclear, moreover, what sort of pay-per-view sales BLK Prime managed to generate from the Crawford-Avanesyan fight.
“There’s more,” Broner said of his contract with BLK Prime. “See this is what people don’t know. So , this what people don’t see. And you get 40% of your pay-per-view buys. What? What? Unheard of. And then another thing is not only do you get 40% but you get 40% on that Monday. Not no six months, we gotta wait until the numbers come in. Not no eight [months], not no year. Monday.”
Broner said it was his coach, veteran trainer Kevin Cunningham, who advised him to not take PBC’s offer. Cunningham, Broner said, then connected him with BLK Prime.
“It was crazy, sh!t,” Broner said. “Well, well, I got a coach who’s just not a coach. You know Kevin Cunningham. He’s more than just a coach. Things was going on in boxing, in PBC, and all [that], so from the inside, you could see things going on and things was getting shady, and I was, like, now it’s time to go and find some different money. So, he made a call and in three days it happened.
He was, like, man, because what they was trying to do—he’s not a coach that will just sit back and, alright, I’ll take this cuz I gotta take this. He was, like, ‘hell nah. You ain’t gotta take that. You’re still in a great spot in your career and they ain’t moving you right. So we gon’ do something that fit more for you.’ So that’s what we did. And BLK Prime came along.”
When asked if he was worried if BLK Prime could keep up with such extravagant paydays, Broner dismissed those concerns.
“It ain’t my problem,” Broner said. “As long as I do my job everything gon’ be good.”
Broner also suggested that other fighters in the PBC circuit were not being properly served. He pointed to the example of WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo, who has not fought in nearly two years, as a prime example.
“Man, first of all, fighters gotta get a real promoter,” Broner said. “Like I said, I don’t want to downtalk Al Haymon and how he run his business because he changed my life, but what they doin’ to us fighters is f---ed up. You gotta think Charlo, he’s a unified world champion [sic] and he ain’t fought in 18 months. These are good years off their careers that they can be busy.
“I go get a deal where I’m fighting three times in one year. Guaranteed eight figures. Unheard of.”