By Paul Mason
It’s another treat for UK fight fans especially this weekend, as Premier Boxing Champions again link up with ITV to provide a free to air fight card. It’s a good one too, as the main event features none other than eight weight World Champion, Manny Pacquiao. He takes on the brash, arrogant Cincinnati, Ohio native, Adrien Broner in the first defence of his WBA “Regular” Super Lightweight Title at the iconic MGM Grand in Las Vegas. ITV4 is the place to catch the fight here, while Showtime are the pay per view providers in the USA. Here is my preview and prediction.
Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, KO39) v Adrien Broner (33-3-1, KO24) – 12 Rounds, WBA Super Lightweight Title
Manny Pacquiao’s legacy and place in the Hall of Fame have long since been confirmed. He doesn’t need to carry on fighting and has nothing left to prove, and at 40 years of age, could possibly do more harm than good in carrying on his career. He is also a senator in the Philippines, which takes up a considerable amount of his time. The Filipino buzz saw breathed new life into his career with a seventh round stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur in July 2018, which saw him capture the WBA Title that will be on the line this weekend.
Pacquiao has won World Titles from Flyweight all the way to Super Welterweight, and it’s unclear what the ambition is going forward. He is 6-4 in his last ten outings. Back to back defeats in 2012 to Juan Manual Marquez (KO6) and a disputed points loss to Timothy Bradley alarmed some, but Manny rebounded with three straight wins before avenging the Bradley loss on points in April 2014. His progress was checked though in a much-hyped, but ultimately disappointing mega fight defeat to Floyd Mayweather in May 2015, losing fair and square on the cards. He again rebuilt, scoring another points win over Bradley, before winning the WBO Welterweight Title by outscoring Jessie Vargas in November 2016.
He took the show on the road in July 2017 by travelling to Australia to defend his Title against the unheralded Jeff Horn in Brisbane, in front of a massive crowd at the Suncorp Stadium. Horn was inspired but still looked fortunate to take a unanimous verdict to hand Pacquiao defeat number seven of his career.
Any notions that Pacquiao was finished were temporarily dispelled in Malaysia, where he knocked down the Argentine Matthysse three times on the way to a seventh round stoppage win to pick up the WBA Super Lightweight Title, his first stoppage win since finishing Miguel Cotto in the twelfth and last round in 2009.
His once blurring hand speed and combinations have visibly slowed, but he remains an elite level fighter. Pacquiao was without longtime trainer Freddie Roach for the Mattysse fight, instead, he was trained by best friend Buboy Fernandez, and Roach is back on board in Las Vegas, if only in an advisory capacity.
His opponent for his first defence is the brash, trash-talking Adrien Broner, who has already been distasteful towards Roach in the build-up to the fight. Broner has almost as many criminal charges as he has had professional fights, and is seemingly always on the wrong side of the law. These misdemeanours have affected his in-ring performances, and although he is a four weight World Champion, his performances have stagnated in the last few years.
After winning Titles at Super Feather, Lightweight and Welterweight, Broner was riding high in the mythical pound for pound circles. That was until he met the Argentine, Marcos Maidana in December 2013. Broner was widely expected to deal with Maidana, but Marcos flipped the script superbly, dropping Broner twice on the way to a wide points win. He came back with three wins at a lower level, before Shawn Porter outpointed him in Las Vegas in June 2015.
The level of opposition was lowered again following that reverse. Broner picked up the vacant WBA Super Lightweight Title by stopping Khabib Allakhverdiev in the last round, but dropped the belt on the scales in his next fight, stopping Britain’s Ashley Theophane in nine. He then defeated Adrian Granados via split decision over ten.
That was in February 2017, and he has had two fights since. He was soundly beaten on the cards by Mikey Garcia in July of the same year, and in his last outing, he was held to a draw by Jessie Varga,s in April 2018.
It’s not really the best form line going into a fight with the General Santos City resident.
Both men have seen better days, but for me, Broner is fighting at too high a weight for him to be truly effective with his once fleet of hand and foot style. Pacquiao still has flashes of his old brilliance, and I can see that being the difference, and him being too much for Broner here. I wouldn’t rule out a knockdown or two along the way for the “Pac Man” and he takes a wide win on the cards for me.