Las Vegas, Nevada, January 18, 2019 – For Manny Pacquiao’s devoted fans, it does not matter what happens in his fight against Adrien Broner on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Boxing’s only eight division champion and elected Senator from the Philippines will never be less than a hero in their eyes, even with a loss.
But every story about a hero needs a villain, and Cincinnati native Broner is well suited and perfectly happy to play that role.
Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) and Broner (33-3-1, 24 KO)s) meet in the ring Saturday night in the main event on Showtime PPV. The telecast starts at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Pacquiao weighed in at 146 pounds, Broner at 146.6 pounds.
Pacquiao staying ahead of Father Time
Although he is a prohibitive favorite among knowledgeable observers and oddsmakers, Pacquiao cannot deny being past his prime at 40 years old. Still, even a slowed-down Pacquiao has more skills and speed than nearly any opponent who would face him, including Broner. Pacquiao arrives at this bout reunited with longtime trainer Freddie Roach, smiling and in superb condition. He says he knows how to handle training in his fourth decade.
“It’s just a number, it doesn’t matter that I’m 40 years old,” said Pacquiao after Friday’s weigh-in. “I still feel young. It’s my legacy to give a great fight at age 40. I have to prove at age 40 I’m still Manny Pacquiao … What matters is how you prepare and that you’re working hard.”
Pacquiao credits his discipline and his longtime habit of cross-training for being in excellent condition, and after 69 fights it’s hard to imagine there is much more for him to learn. He says he’s happy to be back with his longtime trainer Roach, and thankful to the fans coming to see him.
Broner, age 28, insists he can knock the veteran out, just like the shocking knockout landed by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Broner says he will win a career defining fight. “It’s a hell of an opportunity,” said Broner after Friday’s weigh-in. I’m just not doing it for me. I’m doing it for the hood. After I win tomorrow night, I’m going to be a legend overnight.”
Broner loves playing the villain
Broner isn’t wrong about this. Although he is a former four-division champion, he’s squandered plenty of natural talent with a poor work ethic at times, and harmed himself with regrettable behavior outside the ring, including pending criminal assault charges against women in Atlanta and Cleveland. These aren’t the first.
It leads critics to say Broner “doesn’t deserve” an opportunity to face Pacquiao for his WBA world welterweight title. But it sets up an intriguing contrast of personalities which carries into the ring, and fuels the passions of fight fans. It’s the fans who fuel boxing. There is no sport without them.
Pacquiao has said he’d like to score a knockout, but he doesn’t have to dislike the man across the ring from him. “I don’t need to dislike my opponent to want a knockout.,” said Pacquiao. “I’m just doing my job in the ring. If the knockout comes, it comes. We’re hoping to have that opportunity Saturday. I have to pressure him to make him open up. Wherever he goes, I’ll be there.”
Broner offers a comeback. “Pacquiao hasn’t fought me so I’m not worried about what he says about me right now. He’s going to have a different outlook after he fights me Saturday night.”
Broner credits Pacquiao for giving a lot to the sport, but “I’m going to beat him up and have a drink with him afterward … This is going to be a hell of a fight. I’ve trained so hard and I want everyone to know that I play around a lot, but when that bell rings, I’m going to be ready. I didn’t come here to lose or lay down. I came here to get this victory.”
Fight prediction: Pacquiao by decision
Big talk is part of boxing, but the time for talk is over. Broner doesn’t generate the punch output or speed even an aging Pacquiao can. He doesn’t have one-punch knockout power at welterweight. His last stoppage was in 2016 against the aging Ashley Theophane. He’s coming off a draw against Jessie Vargas, a common opponent who Pacquiao smothered three years ago, and a loss to Mikey Garcia. It would take a miracle for Broner to muster up something new to beat Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s biggest opponent is undefeated, and it’s not Broner. It’s Father Time. So many fighters come into the ring and seem to have aged overnight. This is the key to the fight. If Pacquiao’s performance in the ring reflects his training and his prior win over a washed up Lucas Matthysse, he should handle Broner with ease. Pacquiao still works angles in the ring better than nearly any fighter short of Vasiliy Lomachenko. As long as he isn’t careless, he can land four punches before Broner begins to respond, and get out of the way.
Pacquiao may want a knockout, but he can still be a hero with a dominating decision victory over an overmatched Broner. Our prediction is a lopsided unanimous decision victory for the fighting pride of the Philippines, and as the story goes, everyone lives happily ever after.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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