Two of boxing’s most sought and prominent personalities jumpstarted 2019’s big fight calendar Saturday, January 19th. That’s when Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao squared off with Adrien “The Problem” Broner, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Showtime PPV. Race, relevance, a potential rematch and a possible rebirth were tangible elements that made this pairing intriguing as hell. This affair moved the mainstream combative sports needle like few others could currently, replete with clearly defined good guy/bad guy roles, cultural allegiances and a degree of ambiguity as to the outcome. Unfortunately, the actual fisticuffs didn’t approach the level of pre-fight hype and banter.
Manny Pacaquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s), Senator of the Philipines, Chair of the Phillipine Public Works Committee, and member of the Phillipine House of Representatives from the lone legislative district of Sarangani, really needs no introduction. Politician and pugilist, Pacquiao is also philanthropic almost to a fault, giving money away every morning, before he runs. Literally, people line up outside of Manny’s home daily, and he hands them his own money. But it’s all a product of boxing, something Pacquiao’s done since the age of 12. He’s now a national icon to his people and globally recognized, the Muhammad Ali or Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. of the Phillipines, if you will; arguably bigger and even more important.
Adrien Broner (33-4-1, 24 KO’s) is the quintessential urban phenomenon; as a wee lad (and with a smile on his face) he famously opined he’d likely be robbing people if not for boxing. Since then he’s crafted an alter-ego, “A.B.”, a brash, shit talking, jewelry wearing sort, a wittier version of Floyd Mayweather’s “Money May” character, with more of a hip-hop swag. Strip clubs, out of the ring violence, unpaid parking tickets, literally burning and/or flushing hundred-dollar bills down toilets, Broner can, has and will do anything. Up to and including making references about Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, and the Parkinson’s Disease he suffers with. “Let’s get shit shakin’ “, Broner said in the build-up. When Paquiao fans razzed him a bit, Broner responded with an unfortunate, racially tinged “cat and sautéed dog” comment. At the end of the day, talking the talk is one thing; walking it, ie, backing up the tough talk is another matter.
To the learned, educated boxing fan, Pacquiao-Broner was bound to amount to a tutorial on punch rate, activity and volume vs. a lack thereof. While Pacquiao has resembled a tornado, whirlwind of shots fired, Broner has been strangely economical throughout his career. The level with which he spews verbal excrement has never quite matched the level with which he throws hands. Adrien was more mobile than usual when the opening bell rang, and Manny never allowed him to get off or get into the fight. Hurt him with southpaw 1-2 in the 7th and staggered Broner with a left cross in the 9th. The overwhelming theme was “A.B.’s” lack of activity though. Punch-stats don’t always tell the story of fight, but it certainly did in this case. 568 punches thrown to 295, an edge of 273 more blows in Pacquiao’s favor. Per round that equated to 47.3 for Manny, 24.5 for Adrien, almost literally a 2-1 ratio. You can’t win fights that way. The ringside judges agreed, tabbing Pacquiao unanimously 116-112 (twice) and 117-111.
Manny’s made no secret of his desire to secure a rematch with Mayweather; it was his sole reasoning for leaving Top Rank and Bob Arum, to sign with Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon. But just in case Floyd is gun-shy or leery of a do-over, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia are all very appealing options, within Haymon’s stable. Though 40 years of age, Pacquiao’s immediate future is bright. As for Broner, he’ll remain an attraction on the strength of fans wanting to see him lose, but he’s likely to be strictly an opponent moving forward; the B-side of any high-profile fight. He’s 1-2-1 in his last 4 bouts, 3-3-1 in his last 7. That speaks for itself and Broner has no one to blame but himself. He was hoping to rejuvenate his once promising career, but what we got was further evidence we’ve already seen the best Adrien Broner has to offer.