On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao seeks to extend an astonishing career, already longer in years and bouts than those of any of his contemporaries, by beating the enigmatic contender Adrien Broner for the WBA’s Welterweight title.
It is an intriguing contest in prospect for fight fans, in part because of the contrast of the career journeys to date and in the potential for their styles to blend well as a spectacle.
Beyond Saturday, their fight also represents the ‘starting gun’ for a sequence of clashes among a generation of Welterweights within which greatness could yet be achieved.
As you would expect, their respective profiles ensure all the leading bookmakers are offering markets on the fight. Pacquiao is 2/5 with Paddy Power for the outright win and also offer a competitive 21/10 on a Broner win by any means.
Now 40 years old, and with a future Hall of Fame place assured, there seems little left to prove for the eight-division champion. Defeat will not damage his legend but would surely draw the curtain on this final incarnation and, similarly, though 10 years Pacquiao’s junior, Adrien Broner has to realise this is his last chance to fulfil a potential widely acknowledged by his peers and predecessors.
Pacquiao Not Past It Yet
Despite his veteran status, he is older than Ali was versus Holmes and has fought a further ten times too, investors should remember, Pacquiao will be expected to be busier than Broner and dictate the pace of the fight to the younger man.
His success has always been built on his speed of hand and foot, on a relentless output and no small amount of power. Power which has largely travelled with him from his days as a teenage Flyweight to the Welterweight class he’s fought in for a decade or more.
Knockout victories have proved harder to find at 147, Lucas Matthysse was his first win inside the distance since he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in 2009, but he remains hurtful and Broner is not a career Welterweight.
The question of whether Pacquiao is preserved enough to maintain his signature work-rate recurs with every passing fight and birthday. For those keen to support the ageing champion, there is more comfort to be found in the style and nature of his opponent than in the evidence provided by Pacquiao in beating the worn-looking Matthysse back in July.
To rely on the latter too heavily would be foolish, the Argentine was tailor made for Pacquiao and succumbed in seven arduous rounds.
Broner’s weakness, aside from the affected persona he wears and a thick ribbon of hubris that runs through an already rampant ego, is his apparent laziness in fights. An instinctive counter-puncher he has allowed a desire to be precise, to deliver the eye-catching, devastating right-hand riposte to steal his effectiveness.
He laboured to a draw against the determined but predictable Jessie Vargas last time out, allowing Vargas to win early rounds with no more than a pedestrian output of his own. That doesn’t bode well when the going gets tough against Pacquiao, as it inevitably will at some point.
Broner, despite his sustained profile and accepted talent has not improved in the intervening years and though decline should be expected in Pacquiao I’m convinced he will still be too busy for Broner to outpoint and too quick and stubborn to be knocked out.
Broner’s pathway to victory is hard to fathom on the evidence available.
Pacquiao v Broner: Best Odds
The protestations of newly found focus are not supported by performances and he has a tendency to lose when facing elite fighters; L12 Mikey Garcia in 2017, L12 Shawn Porter in 2015 and the Maidana loss two years earlier.
He takes his lumps, his face etched with the false smile of denial. The denial of his passing prime and flawed preparation. Pacquiao will afford him no respite from the truths Broner is being forced to face, despite his 23-year career.
Ignore the years on the ‘log book’, acknowledge but don’t be disturbed by Pacquiao’s losses to fighters who could time his approaches; Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales all found ways to beat speed and volume with timing and precision, and back the Pacquiao victory.
I like the widely available evens (1/1) on a Pacquiao points win, backing Unanimous (8/5 with Ladbrokes) will improve your return, and could be tempted by Coral’s 25/1 on a Round 9 stoppage to add a little adrenalin to proceedings.
Coral also offer 5/1 on Rounds 7-12 for those wanting a wider spread on a Pacquiao stoppage and contemplating Broner raising the ‘white flag’ later in the fight.