At 26, following the birth of his sixth child and on the heels of his second loss, Adrien Broner says he's finally getting it.
The Cincinnati fighter has set aside his rap career. He's attending his kids' youth sports games. He's stopped talking to reporters. He's moving down to 140 pounds.
Broner (30-2, 22 knockouts) on Saturday will fight Russia's Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1, nine KOs) on Showtime (7 p.m. live/10 p.m. delayed) for the vacant World Boxing Assn. world super-lightweight belt in Cincinnati.
Broner said on a Showtime video that he's "on a mission," and understands how his erratic behavior was not in his best interest as a fighter, and his trainer Mike Stafford told The Times this week that he anticipates the results of the newfound dedication.
"He's kind of changed with this latest baby; it turned on a light, that he needs his family, and they need him," Stafford said. "There was a lack of commitment before."
Broner, a former three-division champion, began to fall from grace in December 2013 when heavy-handed Marcos Maidana knocked him down twice en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
This past June, Broner lost again, getting outboxed by former welterweight champion Shawn Porter.
Stafford assesses that "if we'd had one more round in each of those fights, we wouldn't be talking like this," because Broner knocked Porter down in the 12th round of their bout.
Yet, there's no mistaking the fighter requires greater maturity.
"Adrien has watched Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Ali ... it's showed," Stafford said. "Look, Adrien can fight. Floyd's not a heavy puncher like Adrien. He can stop you with a jab, a right hand, a hook, an uppercut, a body shot. He's so multitalented, he doesn't need to mimic anyone. He's a special kid."
Some focus would help.
"Sometimes, you don't see what you've got to change unless something happens, like a loss … take your career seriously," Broner said on the Showtime video. "I've already accomplished a lot, but I have so much more to do .… I was too accessible. I've got to do what I've got to do, for me, my family and my kids."
Stafford said fewer distractions will be beneficial, along with the move down to 140 pounds.
"He always trains hard, and now he's going to the weight class where he's supposed to be," Stafford said. "He was forced into 147 to get the bigger fights on TV.
"People might wonder why he's getting a world title shot after a loss, but he's going to be strong in this division. Adrien will be smart, be fast, use his boxing skill and beat the guy."