CINCINNATI -- In the ring and before the press, Adrien Broner has always been flashy, flamboyant and funny.
Outside the ring, Broner has been in trouble -- and, as it turns out -- troubled. After felony charges and time in jail last year, he posted on Instagram a picture of a gun that hinted at suicide. Friends were alarmed and called police.
“Some days you wake up and you’re not at your highest point,” Broner said. “I was down. At the end of the day, I’m still here. I’ve been through the ups and downs. I’m on a fresh start.”
Broner said he’s past that dark place.
“I didn’t just turn the corner,” he said. “I actually just passed a mile.”
Few things in life should be greeted with as much skepticism as an athlete who says he’s turned his life around.
So Broner’s declaration that he’s a new man should be taken with a boulder of salt. You have to hope Broner keeps the promise he made Tuesday at the news conference to announce a Feb. 19 fight with Adrian Granados at Cintas Center. It will be Broner’s first fight in 10 months.
“It comes a time when it’s time to grow up,” Broner said. “I think I’ve reached that time. I look back at some of wild things I did when I was younger and I’m amazed. Did I really do that?”
“Everybody always asks: ‘Do you got any regrets?’ I look back and say I wish I could’ve did that a different way. Everybody has regrets. Now, it’s about worrying about the future -- my kids, my team, my family -- and putting on great performances as a boxer.”
Broner, 27, is one Cincinnati’s most accomplished athletes. He’s always been good in the ring. He’s 32-2 with 24 knockouts and has held four world championship belts at three different weights (130, 135 and 147 pounds).
He’s won with great flair and some clowning at times. He lost his title for missing weight once.
But his biggest indiscretions have come outside the ring. Last year was particularly rough for him. He was charged with felonious assault and robbery after an incident at Madison Bowl in January 2016.
Broner spent 23 days in jail on a contempt charge for showing up late for a court hearing in the case.
The charges were dropped in September when the man who accused Broner didn't show up in court for the trial. But then the suicide post came three weeks later.
“He just didn’t understand why people turned against him,” his longtime coach Mike Stafford said. “He had to learn that’s people’s thoughts. You’ve still got to be a man and not let those things get to you.
“Adrien is his own worst enemy. He’s starting to be more humble now. That’s all we want -- for him to realize God gave him the gift and the world wants to see the gift.”
Stafford has seen the changes Broner pledged.
“He’s showing up at the gym before us,” Stafford said. “He’s back to his old ways. His whole attitude has changed.”
The past four or five months are just a start. Broner knows that.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “I’ve got to thank God. I’ve been in some crazy situations. I still wake and I’m still here. I’ve got to give a good thanks to God for sure.
“I want to thank my support system -- coach Mike, my parents, (manager) Andrew Williams, of course, my mentor Floyd Mayweather, all his team, everybody who talks to me behind the scenes.”
Mayweather is promoting the Broner-Granados fight. He was there for the news conference Tuesday.
“I’m proud of Adrien Broner,” Mayweather said. “It was a minor setback for a major comeback. He’s coming back better than ever.”
Broner says the new Broner will have the same flair in the ring as the old Broner.
“I always be entertaining because I’ll always be me, so that’s what I’m going to focus on, especially in 2017,” he said. “I’ve been on the downside and the upside of boxing. At the end of the day, my name is still one of the biggest names in the boxing.
“Right now, it’s time to stop taking my talent for granted, to stop taking the chances I got in life for granted and change for the better.”
Broner demonstrated a bit of new Adrien Tuesday. He is a major trash talker, but he did none of that.
“I know everybody wonders if he was going to get up here and throw Mexican slurs at Adrian. I’m like, ‘nah, I got ‘em but...,’” he said. “From here on out, it’s going to less talking, more fighting and more smiling. Feb. 18, I’m going to put on a hell of a show.”
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org