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.
And so, we meet again my dear friend. It was inevitable I would return to my notebook. A place of solace, a blank canvas to express the boxing murmurs that occupy my brain on a constant basis. I could continue to wax lyrical but alas, lets get down to the meat & potatoes! The fights I am DESPERATE to see in 2019. I think most of the boxing world would agree with me.
- Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 – when announced, the first contest was met with much trepidation; would Fury pull out? Was it just a money grab? Did Deontay see this as easy pickings? I, along with the boxing world were happy to be wrong. A tremendous occasion which showed not only Fury’s boxing skill, guile and mental fortitude but also showed Wilder’s mental strength, competitive streak & devastating power. Both men left the ring with more credit than they entered which is a rarity among modern boxing. The controversy over the draw result has left the world with a lust for the rematch. We wait with bated breath for the announcement.
- Anthony Joshua vs Fury – Wilder Winner – The AJ/Wilder saga was moving towards astronomical levels of anticipation. That was until Tyson Fury decided to step back into the boxing world and shake its very foundations. His masterful performance in the Wilder fight and the subsequent draw means that whoever emerges from the inevitable rematch will be poised to fight AJ in a unification match to crown an undisputed king of boxings biggest division. If you thought the hype for Mayweather – Pacquiao was legendary, I am afraid we have seen anything yet!
- Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin 3 – Two razor thin fights between 2 of the very best pound for pound fighters in the sport have left us clamouring for a third! Depending on who you speak to GGG could be 2-0 vs Canelo and vice versa. These two are so sublimely skilled and evenly matched that If they were to fight 10 times, we could still be looking at a tie. Golovkin has been resting up since the rematch, while Canelo has gone up to 168 to capture another world title. Canelo vs GGG 3 at 168 looks a great possibility for the next chapter in this rivalry.
- Errol Spence vs Terrence Crawford – Spence has solidified himself as one of the very best fighters in the sport. He cut a destructive path on his way up the ladder as a contender before travelling to England to rip the title from respected World Champion Kell Brook. Since then he has done nothing to slow down the claims as a future pound for pound elite. It seems like all Spence needs to move to that next level of stardom is the right dance partner; step forward Terrence Crawford. In Crawford we have an undoubted pound for pound elite talent. A switch-hitting virtuoso who has conquered both 135 & 140, unifying the titles before again venturing upwards to 147 to strip Jeff Horn of his WBO Title. Crawford has been very vocal that he intends to clean up at 147 and sees Spence merely as an object that needs to be moved. An undefeated power punching, seek and destroy southpaw vs an undefeated switch-hitting genius with a scary mean streak. This could be a fight for the ages.
- Gervonta Davis vs Vasyl Lomachenko – maybe a fight that is under the radar for some boxing fans but not for me! In Davis we have a precocious young talent, a power punching bull with the speed and skills that have destroyed all that have crossed his path thus far. His alignment with Floyd Mayweather saw him viewed as the heir apparent to Mr TBE. In his squabbles and trouble outside the ring have not seen that potential come to fruition, yet! In Vasyl we have arguably THE greatest amateur of all time. A sure-fire hall of famer already within such a short space of time. A 3-division world champion that has set the boxing world alight with skills and movement hardly seen before in a ring. Nobody has yet been able to really pose any serious questions to Lomachenko, despite the calibre of opponents he has already shared the ring with. A young (hopefully still hungry) undefeated opponent who has destroyed all those before him looks like the perfect person to pose some questions to “Hi-Tech”. I for one hope Davis can resolve his out of the ring troubles and find himself in the opposite corner of the great Ukrainian. Some serious questions will be asked, and some answers will be needed…for both men!
Boxing is in a brilliant place right now. So many quality fighters, so many great fights to be made. Please tell me, what are you top 5 fights to be made in 2019?
To be the man, you don’t necessarily have to beat the man!
The welterweight division has for so long been boxings glamour division under heavyweight. A tremendous blend of both blistering speed and bone crunching punching power has ensured a steady stream of classic material from the 147-pound division.
Up until his recent retirement “Money” was the welterweight ruler. With his departure, a huge void has been left in the division, one which we excitedly wait to be filled. An old boxing idiom has always stated that “to BE the man you have to BEAT the man”. What happens when that is not actually possible however, can sometimes prove to be a lot more entertaining. In this very instance “The Man” is normally the last one standing after the dust has settled on some terrific contests. As fans of the sport we are in a privileged position right now. Just as is the case in a host of other weight classes, 147 is littered with an array of star studded talent all vying to be “New Money”.
While the WBSS has been a breath of fresh air to the sport, 147 is one weight where I don’t wish to see an elimination style tournament. I feel that the division and the sport on a whole would benefit a lot more from a series of match ups that could each stylistically provide fireworks. Here I will explore 5 potential match ups that win, lose or draw for each competitor are bound to raise their stock.
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter – This one has fight of the year contender written all over it. A sharp shooting, power punching, flat footed counter puncher vs an in your face, relentless, pressure fighting brawler. This stylistic match up would pose several questions for both fighters and hopefully give us fans both the answers and excitement we crave. Would Porter be able to disrupt Garcia with his rugged style or would his bull-rushing style see him run head first into Garcia’s patented “no look hook”? I for one hope we get to find out.
Errol Spence Jr vs Keith Thurman – fans are salivating at the prospect of this fight already, and for good reason. Unified champion Thurman has proved that he is so much more than a crude “1 Time” slugger over the last few years. He has shown great boxing skills, an underrated fight IQ & undeniable grit when faced with adversity in fights. While these are all enviable traits to possess, it’s the latter that has also raised so many question marks. Undoubtedly Thurman has shown he is tough and will fight through pain and discomfort but the way in which he has found himself hurt has led to people screaming that Spence Is the man to end his run. Keith Thurman has been visibly hurt to the body on several occasions, this could prove to be his undoing against the rugged Texan. Immensely skilled, fast, powerful and smart, Spence has also proven to be one of the premier body punchers in boxing today. This contest has classic written all over it. The boxing community wait with baited breath…
Errol Spence Jr vs Shawn Porter – this is the beauty with a series of match ups rather than an elimination style tournament. We, the fans could have potentially been missing out on this match up that would surely be firefight. Two fighters who like to occupy the centre of the ring, hunt their opponent, corner them and then do vicious damage. I find it hard to envision this fight as anything other than a war. This would be the kind of fight, once again that would elevate both participants, regardless of the outcome.
Terrence Crawford vs Keith Thurman – the boss from the 140-pound division has set his sights on once again trying to conquer a weight class. Crawford took the bold step of moving up and challenging WBO king Jeff Horn so chasing a challenge as difficult as this assignment would come as no surprise. This match up pits switch hitting Crawford against the savvy power punching Thurman, two fighters who can both box as well as they can bang. Both fighters share the distinction of being much better in areas than they are given credit for, this is what I think makes the fight so interesting. Crawford, for all his technical ability and slick skills is a power punching, rugged fighter while Thurman is the power puncher who is a lot slicker and fleet of foot than people often realize. Who imposes their will? Who makes the adjustments? What a fight this would be.
Terrence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr – this would see two of the consensus best “Pound for Pound” fighters in the world square off. Much has been said of both men, they possess that unique blend of speed, power, ring intelligence, durability & aggression. All the ingredients you would expect from the best “Pound for Pound” in the world. This contest, while undoubtedly being a huge money fight, could be the real “Money” fight. Could this fight be the one to anoint the heir apparent? Could this be the one that finally sees the end of the Mayweather era and beginning of the Crawford/Spence one?
The king is dead, long live the king. Whoever that proves to be…