Manny Pacquiao 60 (39 KOs)-7 (3 KOs)-2 defends his WBA World Welterweight title against Adrien Broner 33 (24 KOs)-3 (0 KOs)-1 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas this Saturday on Showtime PPV in the US, and on ITV Box Office in the UK or free on ITV4.
Sometimes fights just capture the boxing world’s imagination. Pacquiao Broner is hardly a clash for the top spot at 147 and neither will likely become number 1 anytime soon, but a fight between two big names with big fanbases is perhaps a textbook example of the term “a fun fight”.
Manny Pacquiao, on the outside looking in has absolutely nothing to prove, already having won world titles in 8 weight divisions, he’s really looking to tie the bow on a career that many boxing fans thought was coming to an end soon after the Mayweather fight. Whereas Broner is looking to recapture some of the magic from that long time ago where he was marked as the “heir to Floyd Mayweather” and looking absolutely spectacular.
It is interesting how one fight can change a fan’s perspective. Just two fights ago Pacquiao took his 7th loss against unheralded Jeff Horn losing his WBO belt, and while there was dispute in the decision, few said that Pacquiao looked his best and it was thought that the Pilipino man had maybe one or two fights left. Even in his most recent fight against Argentine Lucas Matthysse while there were flashes of the Pacquiao of old, the punches were coming in twos and threes as opposed to fives and sixes. However, even at 40 Pacquiao remains a ferocious competitor best shown by coming into this fight as a heavy favourite. I won’t spend too long on Pacquiao’s style for two reasons, the first is that being Pacquiao I’d be very surprised if you didn’t know his southpaw, angling style and secondly that it is very hard to pigeon hole his style as it is so unique. I’d say the most underappreciated part of Pacquiao’s game however is his angles, not offensively however but where he places his head defensively. Pacquiao, when he throws his shots is almost never on the centre line, his head always comes away from where it was when the punch starts, meaning that not only does the shot come in at an angle but it is made even harder to counter from the head movement.
This is not to say that it can’t be done, take one look at the Marquez knockout for instance, however Marquez did have three previous fights to learn Pacquio’s tendencies and no one short of Mayweather has really been able to expose Pacquiao on a skill level in the past decade. Pacquiao’s shortcomings are exposed by using more brute force mentality showed best by Jeff Horn. Pacquiao does best at distance buzzing round like a fly, landing two jabs and maybe a left uppercut or left to the ribcage and slipping out. What you need to do is one of two things. Either get his respect early like Mayweather and maintain the range well using a straight right, making him second guess himself coming in, or to flat out bully him and not give him the space to use his footwork like Horn.
This is where Broner comes in. Broner like Pacquiao is not the strongest at 147, and cases can be made that in fact neither fighter are best at Welterweight anyway, but where Broner differs is in his range. Though he struggles with fighters who exhibit a high punch output or come forward pressure fighters, Broner is pretty good coming forward. This is best shown in his days at lightweight, the Demarco fight comes to mind. Broner wasn’t always the fighter who got off first but there was a sense that Broner was putting mental pressure on Demarco as much as anything else, rolling the shots coming in, using that Mayweather style shoulder roll, and whipping in hooks to the body. Also Broner has a terrific right uppercut that while he hasn’t shown it in his most recent fights is certainly something to look out for.
So, if Broner is to win the fight it will have to be a close range fight, but the issue is for Broner that Pacquiao is hardly likely going to let him just swagger in and get off punches, Broner is going to have to be a little more savvy in how he goes about his work throwing feints and getting those feet moving. The problem is, no pun intended, that Broner hardly has a high punch output and has been culpable in the past of just fighting in spots for the whole fight almost gifting eight of the twelve rounds, the Porter fight is the best example of this. If Broner is going to win he is going to have to be both smart, with when he throws that straight right, and courageous enough to let his hands go and risk gassing down the stretch to win rounds.
The fight will most likely see a cagey opening with Broner being sharp on the counter and Pacquiao not wanting to lunge and make a mistake. If Broner does fall into his old habits of letting the fight slip with a low output Pacquiao will dominate at range. Whichever way the fight goes however I do see Broner having a strong late showing. Broner, to the annoyance of many boxing fans does have heart and combined with an ageing Pacquiao should be nicking the last couple of rounds when the forty-year old’s legs fail to keep the distance.
I wouldn’t be surprised like many would if Broner is to pull this off, by walking the older man down and winning on the inside, but styles do make fights and I’m not sure Broner has the ability to adapt to a man like Pacquiao fast enough to pull a win out of the bag. So I see Pacquiao winning a very close or majority decision in a very good fight to watch with two contrasting but captivating styles.
On the undercard Badou Jack 22 (13 KOs)-1 (1 KO)-3 takes on undefeated Marcus Browne 22 (16 KOs)-0-0 for the vacant WBC Silver Light- Heavyweight title.