Boxing in 2019 is well and truly underway. The year has already kicked off with an upset of sorts when Caleb Plant relinquished Jose Uzcategui of his IBF Super Middleweight title last Sunday night. Adrien Broner will be looking to overhaul the applecart himself this Saturday, but on a far grander stage, an MGM Grand stage.
In bout number 70, Manny Pacquiao continues to see the red carpet rolled out ahead of him. One of the greats of this historic sport, Pacquiao’s legacy will live on far beyond when his fighting days are over.
His days at the highest level aren’t over yet, but with the vibes of youth growing in the Welterweight division, Pacquiao’s numbers are at least close to their limit.
Pacquiao 60-7-2(39KO’s) has been boxing almost as long as this writer has been alive as he readies to defend his WBA ‘regular’ Welterweight title three days shy of being 24 years since he first stepped through the ropes to defeat Edmund Enting Ignacio on a four round points decision in the Philippines.
The man tasked with making Manny feel every bit of those 24 years in the ring, is boxing’s ultimate ‘bad boy’. The 29-year old Cincinnati native couldn’t be more of an opposite of Pacquiao, but his achievements inside the ring are eye-catching.
In spite of being considered to choke or not show up on the big occasions, Broner 33-3-1(24KO’s) has amassed 4 titles from Super Featherweight thru to Welterweight.
During his days as WBO Super Featherweight and WBC Lightweight title holder, Broner strutted his way to impressive and unique knockout victories. ‘AB’ was set to be the leader of the next generation, but the wheels began to come off the moment he took the leap up two divisions to 147lbs.
He has since dropped points losses to Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia, while drawing with Jessie Vargas last time out.
The new generation has past Broner by, but a fighter with a quick tongue is never far away from rekindling their own flame. Broner knows a win here, and his past losses are irrelevant when he goes to the negotiating table with crème de la crème of the boxing world.
It could be argued that while his last two fights did not produce any victories, Broner seems to be improving, having pushed the elite Mikey Garcia at Super Lightweight, before a catchweight meeting with Vargas saw him draw, a contest that could very easily have gone in Broner’s favour.
But it is also a suggestion that the full 147lbs limit is not where the 5’6” Broner belongs. And while Pacquiao is marginally the shorter man and enjoyed his greatest successes in divisions below, the 40-year old champion has comfortably grown into a 10 ½ stone fighter.
Pacquiao’s most recent triumph over Lucas Matthysse may have flattered to deceive. It is hard to tell how much interest the Argentinian – who would coincidently retire following a career payday – had in retaining his secondary WBA strap as he opted to remain on the canvas in round 7 after suffering his third knockdown of the fight.
There may be many chinks in Broner’s armoury, but throwing in the towel on a fight is not one of them. No matter how outclassed Broner is over 12 rounds, the challenger digs his heels in and sees out the job.
It would be easy to say that this is the night that Broner displays all his nuances in the ring, that the fighter his heart, experience and physical attributes resemble finally comes to the forth. That the timing for Broner is perfect, a legend in slow decline meets an underachiever who finally notches the victory that matches the multi-millions he has made in his career.
And while it may be easy to say, it may also be true as well. But the feeling is that too many changes need to happen overnight.
So long as the aging Pacquiao is still a world class operator, and so long as Broner still mimics the relaxed, flat-footed style that relies heavily on lateral upper-body movement, then the styles are all in favour of a Pacquiao win.
Broner’s counters will at times bring fans to their feet, and will give off the impression that this is his night. But across each passing round, Pacquiao will be the busier, and while far less efficient, his flashy combinations and consistent pressing of the action will provide more than enough evidence that the old dog still has all the tricks needed to compete and win at this level.
There is still another level or two higher than this, levels that we all know one of the all-time greats will never reach again. But for now it will be enough as Broner is kept in check for the most part of this 12-rounder, leading to a narrow, but unanimous decision win for Manny Pacquiao.