Fight Week Preview: Pacquiao, Broner Offer Study in Contrasts
Sports . Content . 3 Minutes . Jason Hirthler
On Saturday night, Philippine Senator and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) will face four-division champion Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for Pacquiao’s WBA welterweight belt. You can watch the fight live on SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on DIRECTV. The matchup offers a fascinating study in contrasts. In one corner, a humble living legend who soldiers into his forties still a master of his craft. In the other, an exceptional talent and outspoken showman not yet thirty years of age but looking to redeem an already accomplished career. Each fighter offers a rich resume of storylines that will doubtless inspire outsized opinions from pundits and fans leading up to the Saturday showdown.
Since he first stormed through the ropes as a young dervish in 1995, Manny Pacquiao has been making history in the boxing world. The “Pacman” is the only fighter to win belts in eight different divisions--a staggering accomplishment, particularly when you consider the work that goes into a rise in weight class. The champ now fights at 147 pounds though, as he was with Floyd Mayweather and Jeff Horn, he is regularly facing larger men in the ring. But that is simply another reason to admire the Filipino Senator’s unrivaled achievements. Max Kellerman, erstwhile HBO ringside analyst, famously argued that Pacquiao is, historically, a greater fighter than Mayweather. He used Manny’s brilliant rise from a 106-pound flyweight fighter to welterweight as Exhibit A. Many observers concur, and Pacquiao is BoxRec’s third ranked pound-for-pound boxer of all time.
It is mind-boggling to realize that Pacquiao, the current WBA (Regular) Welterweight Champion, was named “Fighter of the Decade” for 2000s, an era in which he competed largely in the featherweight division before rising through lightweight to welterweight by 2010. And yet the 40-year old veteran still dazzles in the ring, as anyone who watched his dismantling of then WBA welterweight champ Lucas Matthysse could attest.
Pacquiao’s resume reads like a hit list of former champions, almost all of them gone from the ring: Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley, and now Adrien Broner. Still Pacquiao fights on, and at a level few have been able to match.
All About the Billions (AB)
For his part, Adrien “The Problem” Broner is anxious to re-establish his trajectory to the top of the sport, and sustain the star power that has made him one of the biggest draws in boxing. Once touted as the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather in boxing’s glamourous middle divisions, Broner scored impressive wins against talented champions including Antonio DeMarco and Paulie Malignaggi, as well as an impressive comeback in a majority draw against former two-division champ Jessie Vargas. The immensely talented Broner has won belts in four weight classes, including the WBA welterweight title Pacquiao currently holds, and all before his thirtieth birthday, an impressive feat by any measure. But losses to Mikey Garcia, Marcos Maidana, and Shawn Porter have dimmed the wattage of Broner’s star, leaving the Ohio native hungry to notch a career-defining victory against a bonafide boxing legend.
Broner also has natural advantages over Manny Pacquiao, being a broader shouldered fighter with a two and a half inch reach advantage and a one-inch height advantage. Then there’s Father Time. Broner is just 29 years old, an age at which many fighters reach their prime. In his last 13 fights, Pacquiao has only fought three men in their twenties when they entered the ring, and he lost two of those fights (to Timothy Bradley and Jeff Horn, both controversially). Broner may bring his relative youth to bear against a legend entering his fifth decade.
Broner is also a polarizing figure in the fight game, but as a result has drawn huge numbers for SHOWTIME PPV and throngs of fans who either love him, or love to hate him. His flashy entrances and penchant for verbal sparring with opponents provide a striking dichotomy paired with Manny Pacquiao’s typically low-key pressers and face offs. Check out this list from Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) of Broner’s five greatest ring walks, replete with ski masks, impromptu dancing, and celebrity rappers carrying championship belts. And while an exhaustive run through of the Pacman’s greatest hits would require a series of posts, here’s PBC’s take on the five fights that made Manny an all-time great.
Before the fight, take a look at SHOWTIME’s always colorful series All-Access, which draws the contrasts between the two veteran fighters, but also captures their common ground: both emerged from hardscrabble early lives with the help of a sport they came to love.
Regardless of who you’re rooting for, Saturday night will likely offer some thrilling action between two of the major talents of the decade. The undercard will also feature two-division world champion Badou Jack against undefeated contender Marcus Browne for the WBA Interim Light Heavyweight Championship. Don’t miss any of the action this Saturday night, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, only on SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on DIRECTV.