NEW YORK — Adrien Broner was asked recently if he would fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the near future.
“Next question,” Broner replied.
The reporter asked again and got the same answer.
The undefeated two-time world champion from Cincinnati isn’t ducking Mayweather as much as he’s trying to emulate him. The reality is Broner probably never will fight Mayweather.
Both are managed by Al Haymon, and even if the 22-year-old Broner wanted Mayweather, he isn’t ready for a fight of that magnitude. By the time he is ready, the 36-year-old Mayweather probably will be retired.
“He’s my role model. He’s the perfect person for me to pattern my career after,” Broner said Thursday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where he will try to wrest away Paulie Malignaggi’s WBA welterweight title Saturday and win his third belt in a third weight class, adding to world titles at 130 and 135 pounds.
For now, Broner (26-0, 22 knockouts) is quite content to agitate Malignaggi (32-4, seven KOs), something he has mastered throughout the promotion for the fight, which will take place a few miles from Malignaggi’s Bay Ridge neighborhood. The two were trading verbal jabs before the fight was even signed and were still firing away Thursday at the final news conference, where Malignaggi clearly appeared uptight.
“I wasn’t trying to get under his skin, honest,” Broner said. “But if I did, I’m glad.”
Broner said moving up two weight classes for this fight was not an issue. He said he took the fight because it was the best one for him at this time.
“I’m originally a welterweight, anyway,” Broner said. “I walk around at 147, 150 pounds, so I’m at my regular weight.
“I’m trying to add to my legacy, build my brand. You build your brand by winning world titles. So when they offered me this fight, I said, ‘Sure. Why not?’ ”
Broner said he is blessed with natural strength and intends to knock out Malignaggi in his hometown.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is you really can’t do nothing for power; you’re either born with it or you aren’t,” Broner said. “It’s like (Manny) Pacquiao when he was in smaller weights, he was knocking guys out. When he went up to the bigger weights, he was still knocking guys out.
“It’s just something God has blessed me with. I’ve got power, so it really doesn’t matter what weight class I’m in. I’m still going to have the same power as I had at any weight class I’m in.
“You’ll probably see another knockout — he’s bringing pillows to a fight that I’m throwing bricks, so you should see a lot of blood, a lot of bruising before the referee stops the fight.”
His trainer, Mike Stafford, said Broner is still growing into his body and is able to do more in the gym.
“He adds a little bit more each time (he fights),” Stafford said. “He’s getting stronger, and we threw him in with some bigger guys to spar with and he handled it beautifully. I’m very happy with where he’s at for this fight.”
Stafford won’t concede that because his fighter may have gotten inside Malignaggi’s head that he’s already won before the opening bell has sounded.
“Oh, no,” Stafford said. “We know Paulie’s a very good fighter. He’s a slick veteran and a world champion. We have total respect for him.
“Does that mean we’re not going to go after him and beat him up? Hell, no. We’re coming to fight Saturday.”
Broner said it’s important not only to beat Malignaggi but also to look good doing it.
The 12-round fight will be televised on Showtime at 6 p.m. (PDT).
“I have to put on a hell of a show,” he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.