Bunce on Boxing: Adrien Broner highlights long, hard fall of US heavyweights

The attention of fans in America has been on much smaller men

Last weekend in Atlantic City, which is a confusing beach and gambling outpost, a kid called Adrien Broner put the hurt on his nation's heavyweight aspirations.

Broner is just 23, he is the unbeaten WBC lightweight champion and HBO, who screened the annoyingly brilliant little fighter for the eighth time, have decided that he is their boxing future. It means that in Broner's glorious wake the search for America's next heavyweight, so long the sport's cash-cow division, has once again been delayed.

There has not been a regular mainstream heavyweight attraction in America since the relic of Mike Tyson limped in and out of shadow fights in the dark twilight of a great career. Tyson's last fight was in 2005 but his last meaningful fight was in 2002, when Lennox Lewis ruined him.

During Tyson's great years, which followed on from the Larry Holmes years, which in turn followed the champions from the Seventies, the American appetite for big men in big fights was also satisfied by Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield (right). The trio fought 57 main events, almost all were pay-per-view fights, between 1986 and the night Lewis beat Tyson. It is easy to forget what the trio achieved, with the help of Lewis, but it was in many ways a superb time for American heavyweights and their continued dominance.

Since the last heavyweight glory days the attention of boxing fans in America, which remains the obvious highest-paying destination, has been on much smaller men and even fighters from outside boxing's traditional borders. Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino congressman, has risen from less than 9st to an 11st cash machine in a decade of massive fights that regularly generate more money than any heavyweight bouts.

However, the true master of boxing's economic boom is Floyd Mayweather and his fights, the highest-grossing in the sport's history, have easily filled the void left by the exit of Tyson, Holyfield and Bowe. At the same time the failure of a new heavyweight to develop has, if the truth be told, not really been a factor; heavyweights in America win a few fights and are then sent to Germany for one of the Klitschko brothers to pulp – back home in America nobody really cares.

Broner's win over Gavin Rees on Saturday was swiftly followed by a love-in with his powerful broadcaster and then Broner outlined the agenda: "When Manny and Floyd leave, I will replace them." Broner will be joined on the new podium of millionaire scrappers by Andre Ward, Saul Alvarez, Nonito Donaire and Leo Santa Cruz. The heaviest is a super-middle, the lightest a bantamweight and they come from America, the Philippines and Mexico. Nobody is bothered about heavyweights when there are dozens of potential super-fights ready to be made at just about every single one of the lower weights.

The heavyweight shortage in its traditional home country is terrific news for British champion David Price and former champion Tyson Fury, both of whom are better prospects than anybody currently fighting at the weight in America. This Saturday, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, Price fights Philadelphia's Tony Thompson, who has twice lost world title fights to Wladimir Klitschko and is arguably the best American heavyweight. Thompson is a good operator but he is not Broner and he is certainly not Tyson.

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: Sabotage, a meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Project Engineer - Cambridge

excellent benefits package including company car: The Green Recruitment Compan...

Business Development Manager (Electricity and Gas)

£50000 Per Annum excellent benefits package including company car: The Green R...

Nursery Teacher - Grimsby

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Job opportunity for Nursery Suppl...

Year 1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?