Saturday 19th January sees the boxing year formally kick off with our first big event of 2019. 8 division world champion & 1st ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao encounters the infamous Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This clash pits two fighters that possess both personalities and fighting styles that can only be described as polar-opposite against each other in a fight that is sure to open the year with a bang. Will the mercurial living legend Pacquiao be able to turn back the clock for one more scintillating performance? Will the enigmatic Broner finally deliver the performance his obvious gifts have suggested he is capable of?
Pacquiao enters what will surely be the swansong of his illustrious, legendary career. He has signed a promotional deal with Al Haymon’s PBC outfit and looks to be trying to leave the sport with the biggest fights possible. Rumour has it a potential rematch with Mr TBE himself was dangled as a carrot to attain Pacman’s signature. Whether that fight materialises is yet to be seen but Pacquiao takes on Broner as his introduction to the PBC stable. Pacquiao will be coming into this contest with a renewed confidence as he attained his 1st stoppage victory in over 8 years when he halted the previously heralded Lucas Matthysse. Manny Pacquiao at his unstoppable best was a power punching Buzzsaw. A fighter who personified the term perpetual motion, he could fight at a tremendous pace from bell to bell until his opponent could no longer match the pace. At 40 years old now it’s fair to say Pacman is no longer in his physical prime, but while he may have slowed down physically, he has always had underrated boxing ability. The ability to set up devasting counter punches from his awkward southpaw stance means that Pacman always has a chance in any contest. The main question for me in this fight will be whether Pacquiao is able to fight at a pace high enough to make the notoriously 1 paced Broner uncomfortable. Should Pacman attempt to outbox Broner (although I believe he is the better boxer, it is just not his strength) at a slower tempo he could run into a Problem!
Adrien Broner has for a long time been a polarizing figure in the boxing community. A brash, confrontational figure, one that ruffles the feathers of many boxing fans and media alike. While Broner maybe all of the above he is also undoubtedly super talented. Blessed with speed, power and great instincts he cut a swathe through his early competition as many people thought we may be seeing the rising of a future P4P superstar (Broner would remind us of this whenever the opportunity arose). The Problem amassed 3 world titles in different divisions before running into his first defeat, a convincing drubbing by Marcos Maidana. Many thought this defeat would be the catalyst to propel Broner to even greater heights. Broner, however, skipped the usual humbling lesson in a defeat and became even more brash and outspoken until once again running into a loss at the hands of Shawn Porter. The above scenario was again repeated until Broner was thoroughly outpointed by the elite Mikey Garcia. I mention the above defeats not because the defeats themselves are ultra-important but more so because of behavioural pattern. Broner has proven that he has not attempted to adapt or change anything following a defeat, he perceivably has not used it as a point of reflection or correction. He has just doubled down on the AB character and attempt to start again. While his mental strength and steadfastness are commendable, it does suggest that we will not be getting a new look Adrien Broner in this upcoming matchup. History is normally a great predictor of the future and Broner has not shown this ability to change as of yet. This is where I feel his biggest obstacle lies in this fight. His previous 2 fights are a loss to Garcia and a disputed draw to Jessie Vargas. A common feature of both contests was Broner’s inability or reluctance to fight at a higher tempo and let his hand go. This has been a common theme in all of Broner’s previous defeats. Against a Buzzsaw like Pacquiao, Broner is potentially going to need to fight at a tempo much higher than the one he is usually comfortable at fighting in. switching trainers to the well-respected Kevin Cunningham and taking himself away to camp to avoid any distractions was a positive step. News that is currently surfacing about his latest transgressions suggests that we may have thought too soon. One thing is for sure if Broner is ever to attain the status we predicted for him early on he needs to do something different this time and get the big win.
Many are perhaps overlooking this fight in anticipation for some of the other big showdowns we have scheduled for early 2019 but this has the potential to be an early fight of the year candidate. The stakes are high; 1 last adventure at the top for Pacquiao or finally reach that upper echelon for Broner. Both fighters have tremendous strengths and talents. Both fighters have also shown certain vulnerabilities. These are 2 real fighters who will meet each other head-on in a battle of wits, skill & will. I don’t see a scenario where this fight isn’t entertaining.
I am predicting an entertaining and perhaps gruelling fight where Manny Pacquiao once again solidifies himself as one of the greatest fighters of the modern era. Broner will be game, he will be tough, he will have success as always. However, ultimately, I see Pacquiao fighting at a tempo that Broner just doesn’t keep up with to win a convincing points victory. Pacquiao to win a unanimous decision 117-113.