Max Warren breaks down next weeks Pacquiao vs. Broner showdown
Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner are set to square off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 19 in what will be the first marquee bout of the new year. Pacquiao has won several high-profile fights over the course of his 23-year professional career, while the only major fight Broner has won was against Paulie Malignaggi in 2013 for the WBA Welterweight World Title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Ever since moving up two weight divisions to challenge Malignaggi at 147, Broner hasn’t found an identity regarding what weight category he belongs to. After what many considered a humiliating and humbling defeat at the hands of Marcos Maidana in December 2013, Broner’s most notable accomplishment was winning a vacant world title at 140 versus Khabib Allakhverdiev. Despite Pacquiao fighting in eight separate weight categories, he has remained at welterweight since shocking the boxing world by stopping the much larger Oscar De la Hoya back in 2008.
The common narrative and question surrounding Broner before a fight is which version of himself will show up. Yet, it is Pacquiao who seems to differ each time we see him. He is now more hesitant to rush his combinations, and uses his jab more frequently before firing his left from various angles. At this stage of his career, the Filipino Senator doesn’t charge at his opponents with flurries that resemble the cartoon character Tasmanian Devil. He is now very calculated and waits for the right time to start his attack. Undoubtedly, a prime Pacquiao averaging nearly 1000 punches per fight would be a nightmare for a fighter like Broner, who is afraid to pull the trigger.
Perhaps the older version of the “Pac Man” is more suitable for Broner, as the former four-division champion has difficulty coping with an intense pace in a fight. Despite Pacquiao being the favorite, the fight could unfold in many ways that could allow either man to have his hand raised at the end of the night.
The most obvious problem for Adrien “The Problem” Broner is that he simply doesn’t throw enough punches. He is sometimes satisfied with landing one or two shots, rather than taking advantage of every opening that is in front of him. By no means is he a monster puncher at 147, and merely a few pot shots are not going to keep Pacquiao at bay. Broner gets in a habit of taking a breather following a combination of any sort. If he wants his hand raised, he needs to fight complete rounds.
He tends to land a few sharp eye-catching shots over the course of a fight that give him a decent case to win rounds, but it is rare that he wins a round based on quality activity throughout the entire round. The best thing he can do is take advantage of his successes and continue to capitalize on whatever openings appear in front of him. Rather than utilizing the time in which his opponent doesn’t throw to relax and take a break, he needs to start and finish exchanges. Mixing in a few flashy punches during an exchange may leave a decent impression with the judges, but it doesn’t guarantee winning the round.
Broner can get overwhelmed at times when on the outside, and can fail to get in a solid rhythm. He struggles with guys who pot-shot him from the outside, and undoubtedly, he will need to avoid Pacquiao’s signature straight left that he uses to pot-shot other fighters with all the time. The best way for Broner to get comfortable is for him to stay on the inside and throw short hooks and uppercuts. He throws a sharp and accurate left hook that quickly wards off other fighters. Not to mention, he also does a fine job at landing the uppercut when in-fighting.
Pacquiao needs room in order to fire off combinations in a comfortable manner. He isn’t an inside fighter. If Broner walks Manny down in order to create a sense of pressure, and shows no respect, the “Pac Man” will not be able to perform at his best. Against Malignaggi in 2013, Broner continued to stay in close range to Malignaggi, and created a sense of pressure that made it so his opponent was wary to throw at times even though he could have. Creating this discomfort could prove to be very effective for the Cincinnati native on January 19th.
Although Pacquiao isn’t a rangy fighter, he likes to linger on the outside and quickly rush inside to land his combinations or throw a lead left. When Pacquiao rushes in, Broner needs to slide to the right and counter with a short uppercut or hook. Doing this will get Pacquiao’s attention, making him wary of throwing power punches and coming inside.
Many believe the blueprint to defeating Broner is activity and punch output. If Pacquiao still has gas left in the tank to throw nearly 800 punches without fatiguing too quickly, he will win. But when he faced Jeff Horn in 2017, he tired during the championship rounds. It seemed that Horn was ready to be knocked out, but he stayed on his feet and fought strong until the final bell. The mistake of throwing and missing too many punches ended up costing Pacquiao the fight, as Horn winning the final two rounds became the determining factor in the outcome of the bout. Even though Broner doesn’t typically throw many punches throughout the night, he finishes very strongly. This writer believes that skill and ring craft will win the fight for Pacquiao, rather than a high punch output.
Just like Broner, Lucas Matthysse, who Pacquiao knocked out last year, is undersized and isn’t known for utilizing fancy footwork. Also, Broner and Matthysse both stand square to their opponents at times, providing a large target with many openings. The “Pac-Man” is great at capitalizing on available targets, because of his speed and ability to punch from so many angles. Broner’s open stance could play right into these particular strengths of boxing’s only eight-division champion.
“The Problem” is notorious for fighting in spurts, and creating lulls in rounds. When other fighter’s start to throw during these lulls, Broner covers up and panics. His entire rhythm comes undone when opponents take advantage of those intervals. Pacquiao needs to follow through on these opportunities.
There is no need for Pacquiao to be reckless. Against Matthysse, he selected his shots well, and never rushed to attack. Even when Matthysse was hurt, the “Pac Man” never panicked and continued to use his jab while looking for an opening with his quick and powerful left hand. In doing so, he scored his first stoppage victory in nearly a decade. Broner doesn’t throw a lot, therefore the Filipino Senator doesn’t need to put pressure on himself to match his intensity.
Pacquiao is a much better defensive fighter than many give him credit for. He is very good at mixing up ranges with his footwork, making opponents reach with their punches. His ability to constantly change distance could prove to be very difficult for Broner to cope with. “The Problem” is most comfortable when he can linger on the inside and pick his shots. He likes to stay flat-footed and remain in the pocket in order to either pot-shot or start a combination. If Pacquiao utilizes his footwork, Broner won’t be able to remain calm and select his shots from a comfortable range.
Broner has the chance to take away the consistent criticisms of him not living up to his potential and folding during the biggest opportunities of his career. Many are suggesting that the winner of this bout will end up facing the currently retired Floyd Mayweather later this year. Broner continues to reiterate that he will not blow this chance, because he really wants the glory of victory and the multi-million-dollar payday that could come about if he ends up facing Mayweather.
Pacquiao still loves the sport, and wants to prove to the boxing world that his loss to Floyd in 2015 was due to fighting with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He is now reunited with his long-time trainer and friend Freddie Roach, and it is evident that the fire still burns for Manny Pacquiao. Aside from wanting a Mayweather rematch, he is open to facing the winner of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia. He doesn’t want any soft touches, feeling the need to prove that he is not only one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all-time, but one of boxing’s best active fighters.
Recently Broner felt slighted by the Los Angeles media workout at the Wild Card Gym, the same gym in which Pacquiao trains. The plan was for Broner and Pacquiao to have two separate workout sessions at the Wild Card in front of the media. Broner went against the scheduled plans, and instead decided to train at a separate gym in Los Angeles. Yet, the respect that he wishes for will only come if he can win some major fights. A win against Pacquiao would certainly provide the acclaim he desires.