Broner set to return to the ring a more focused, mature man

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There comes a point in every man’s life when he must look himself in the mirror, take a deep breath and utter the following phrase: It’s time to grow up. Of course, the words ring hollow if they aren’t accompanied by actions. That’s something Adrien Broner insists he finally understands.

After 13 months of self-inflicted, out-of-the ring turbulence and personal strife, the former four-division world champion who for so long embodied his nickname—“The Problem”—says he’s gone through his moment of introspection and come out a better, more mature person.

“I’ve been living the fast life,” says Broner, who faced criminal charges before and after his last fight, a ninth-round stoppage of Ashley Theophane in April.

“When you try to do it your way and it don’t work, you’ve got to make the right changes. It’s about wanting to do better, that’s all.”

Certainly, those are the words of a changed man. But what about the actions?

Well, for starters, Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) prepped for Saturday’s return to the ring against Adrian Granados (18-4-2, 12 KOs) by staging training camp at the Oasis Elite Boxing Club in his hometown of Cincinnati.

In the recent past, Broner had traveled to Washington, D.C., to train with cornerman Mike Stafford. He believes staying close to home with two of his young children has him in a more peaceful state of mind heading into his 147-pound bout with Granados at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

“Just coming back home changes everything,” says Broner, who lives in a high-rise condominium across the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky, with his 11-month old daughter and a son who will celebrate his second birthday on February 15.

“It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my children. I’m doing everything for them. It’s been humbling knowing where I’ve come from. It brings you back down to earth.”

It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my children. I’m doing everything for them. Adrien Broner, former four-division world champion

A brash boxer who loved the spoils of celebrity about as much as a mother loves her newborn child, Broner’s, uh, problems became dead serious in January 2016. That’s when he was charged with felony assault and aggravated robbery as a result of a late-night altercation at a Cincinnati bowling alley.

Arrest warrants were then issued and remained outstanding when Broner lost his 140-pound title on the scales before defeating Theophane. After the fight, Broner returned to Cincinnati and turned himself in to local authorities, but when he subsequently showed up late for a court date, he was hit with a 30-day jail sentence for contempt of court.

Broner began serving the sentence in late July and soon engaged in that man-to-man conversation with himself. He had conversations with others, too, namely retired boxing legend and longtime mentor Floyd Mayweather Jr., with whom Broner is co-promoting Friday’s fight card.

“There are a lot of people who have been as successful or even more successful than I am who have been through a lot of the same things,” Broner says. “One person who has is Floyd Mayweather, and he’s told me, ‘You’re going to be OK. I’ve done some of the things you’ve done before, and I’ve learned from those situations.’”

Fight fans will get a chance to see the “new” Adrien Broner when he returns to action Friday in a city where he’s 14-0 with 11 knockouts in his pro career. It’s his first bout in his backyard since October 2015 at U.S. Bank Arena, where his 12th-round stoppage of Khabib Allakhverdiev earned him a 140-pound title—his fourth crown in as many divisions.

One thing for which Broner certainly deserves credit is choosing to jump in the ring with a fighter the caliber of Granados.

A fellow 27-year-old, Granados is a heavy-handed, scrappy veteran who is riding a five-fight winning streak, with three of those triumphs being stoppages. That includes an eighth-round TKO upset of then-unbeaten Amir Imam (18-0, 15 KOs) in November 2015.

And if anyone knows how tough Granados is, it’s Broner: He employed the Illinois native as a sparring partner in advance of his unsuccessful 147-pound title defense against Marcos Maidana in December 2013.

“[Granados] is a tough competitor,” Broner says. “He's a world-class fighter who will bring out the best in me. That’s why I picked him.

“It’s all about staying focused and putting on a great boxing show for the fans. I’m more focused and in a great state of mind.”

Time will tell if Broner’s actions speak as loudly as his words.

For complete coverage of Broner vs Granados, visit our fight page.

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