By: Kirk Jackson
Conventional wisdom suggests Manny “The Pac-Man” Pacquiao 60-7-2 (39 KO’s) is going to defeat Adrien “The Problem” Broner 33-3-1, 1 NC (24 KO’s) this weekend. But many variables are at play and the victor will not be pre-determined on paper. As the old adages suggest; one punch can end or change the fight and fights are not won on paper.
This is the fight both fighters need. While this fight will not necessarily establish the victor as an elite fighter in the welterweight division, the winner of this fight captures relevance and remains a large financial factor in boxing’s most competitive division.
Surveying many fighters, fans and majority members of the media, most pick Pacquiao to emerge victorious.
Given each fighter’s reputation, it’s a fair assessment however, this is not a walk in the park for either fighter.
In spite of the criticism (much of it warranted), Broner has a better record than what the media implies. He is a four division world champion and although it’s easy to suggest he has not performed to his potential, his losses were against elite competition.
Marcos Maidana was a tough, rugged, powerful-punching former world champion. Shawn Porter is a two time world champion and the current WBC welterweight champion of the world. Mikey Garcia is undefeated, four division world champion and widely considered as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Broner has the speed, power and boxing ability to defeat Pacquiao. But if this most recent version of “The Problem” is to remain impenetrable, he must shed the reputation of “Underachiever.”
The success of Broner may depend on which version of Pacquiao we see Saturday night. Will we see the fighter who looked great against Lucas Matthyesse – who admittedly at this stage of his career was past his prime and custom made to order? Or will we see the Pacquiao who faced Jeff Horn; still explosive but sporadic fighting in spots and at times inaccurate and unfocused?
The question begs is Pacquiao still an elite fighter? Is the basis of Pacquiao’s current label of elite level distinction predicated on reputation and glorious memories of the past, rather than recent performance and reality?
There’s old boxing adage, “You’re only as good as your last fight,” but the last fight may not tell the entire tale of the fight to follow. Relying on reputation may not always be the way to go either.
Showtime boxing analyst and recent recipient of Broner’s ire Al Bernstein compared the last five fights of Pacquiao and Broner. Bernstein stated Broner oddly enough has a higher punch output compared to Pacquiao.
The comparison of fights consists of various variables that manipulate the punch output statistic, but it’s interesting to imagine when comparing the two fighters as Pacquiao is generally perceived as the busier fighter.
Broner is extremely accurate and if he is the fighter come Saturday night with the higher punch output, his odds bode well.
“Look at my last five fights. I’ve fought world champion after world champion. I don’t duck any fights. I don’t care how many weight classes he’s won titles in,” said Broner in an interview leading up to Saturday’s fight.
Broner and Pacquiao share a common opponent in Jessie Vargas and both have different results with Pacquiao defeating Vargas and Broner fighting to an even draw with Vargas.
While it’s not an indication as to how Pacquiao vs. Broner will play-out, it’s interesting to note both Pacquiao and Broner arguably trailed early and finished strong. Will each fighter display this trait in their eventual encounter?
Although Pacquiao fought a grandmaster of the ring in Mayweather back in 2015, a fighter who perfected the shoulder roll defense Broner attempts to emulate, it doesn’t mean the fight against Broner will turn out the same way for Pacquiao.
Meaning Pacquiao may be more successful due to the difference in skill level between Mayweather and Broner. “The Problem” emulates certain aspects of Mayweather’s persona and fight style, but they fight completely different.
Broner appears more explosive with his punches compared to Mayweather and there’s a difference in footwork between the two. Many critics deem Broner as flat-footed.
Although the shoulder roll defense is not recommend by many experts as the defense of choice for an orthodox fighter against a southpaw, there’s a good chance Broner will utilize that style of defense at some point during his fight against Pacquiao.
Regarding the shoulder roll and other defensive tactics there is also a vast difference between Broner and Mayweather noticed by some of boxing’s great fighters and trainers alike.
Andre Ward discussing Mayweather’s shoulder roll (credit The Ring):
“You can use that move in different ways. If you look back at Floyd Mayweather Sr.’s fights, he used it a lot. You can see him use it pretty frequently in his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, which I think is still available on YouTube. Obviously, he wasn’t as good at it as Floyd Jr. is now, but you see where his son got it from. Roger Mayweather [Floyd Jr.’s uncle and his former trainer] used it a bit, too, but his style was slightly different. Roger was more offense-minded.”
“The point I’m trying to make is that Floyd got that move almost from birth. That’s the difference between him and guys who try to emulate him. Yeah, some fighters do well with it in spots. You can borrow bits and pieces from other fighters. That can be a good thing. But if you try to copy someone’s complete style, I’ve never seen that work. Floyd Jr. began mastering the shoulder roll from the get-go. It’s who he is; by now it comes naturally to him.”
Teddy Atlas discussing differences between Mayweather and Broner (credit The Ring):
“Mayweather knows when to use [the shoulder roll] and when not to. He doesn’t depend only on that. It’s just an element within his body of work. I think it’s the other parts that also go into the sum of who and what he is. It’s the other parts that allow him to be effective.”
“Where Broner went wrong was having a psychological attachment to a great fighter’s most notable move. But true originals find constancy in something. Imitators are only hoping to find that. They don’t have complete assurance it will bring them to that next level. Mayweather’s already at that level.”
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad on Broner and Mayweather (credit The Ring):
“The shoulder roll is basically a defensive move. If you throw a right hand at Floyd, he tucks his chin behind his left shoulder, turns to his right and is in good position to counter. A lot of fighters do that. But Floyd does it to perfection because he’s been doing it for so long, and he does it so exceptionally well. Really, it’s not the move that makes Floyd such a great fighter. It’s his talent level.”
“I mean, look at Adrien Broner’s fight against Maidana. Broner tried to imitate Floyd’s shoulder roll, and he liked to get himself killed. Why? Because Adrien Broner is not Floyd Mayweather. There’s only one Floyd Mayweather.”
Speaking of Mayweather, it’s not guaranteed he will return from retirement to fight Pacquiao, as is it’s not guaranteed Pacquiao will defeat Broner.
Although Mayweather has a well-documented history of retiring, coming out of retirement, rinse and repeat; it’s fair to suggest Mayweather will no longer compete on the high end circuit of professional boxing.
Again, Pacquiao and Broner still have to show at this stage of their respective careers if they’re still fighters, but Mayweather seems primed to fight on the exhibition circuit – only if the opportunity arises.
It’s uncertain, perhaps unlikely, Mayweather fights Pacquiao if the Filipino star emerges victorious. It’s difficult to determine if there would be enough demand to dictate a rematch.
Which brings into question, the other alternative. What if Broner wins?
“People are talking a lot about Pacquiao fighting Floyd Mayweather again, but I’m pretty sure Floyd is retired. I feel like people are trying to throw me to the wolves and overlook me,” Broner said in a press conference with Showtime.
“He doesn’t remind me of any past opponents just like I’m not going to remind him of anyone he’s fought. He’s never fought anyone like me. Every fighter has similarities, but truly every fighter is different. If I remind him of Floyd Mayweather, I hope his arm doesn’t hurt after this one.”
A victory for the Cincinnati native propels him into super-stardom. It may play out to be the case of young lion conquers older lion.
In the past, Broner was used as the perpetual stepping stone en route to Mayweather – see Marcos Maidana. But Adrien now has the chance to cast himself from that shadow.
Broner has the opportunity to take the mantle as one of boxing’s true super-stars and the Premier Boxing Champions movement headed by Al Haymon is the perfect platform for him.
What’s the effect of another defeat for Pacquiao? His legacy will not be affected. For Broner, although many cast their story upon him, there are still many chapters to add to his book.
If you ask Pacquiao, he is still adding chapters to his ever-growing book.
“Life begins at 40,” exclaimed Pacquiao at his pre-fight celebration leading up to the fight. “Physically, I still feel like I am 25, but with the benefit of the wisdom that comes from the added years of my life experience. I still have a lot I want to accomplish as an athlete, a public servant, and a father, husband and son. I look forward to adding more chapters to my life story.”
Each fighter is appears motivated and has a great opportunity Saturday night to kick-start 2019 in grand fashion. Who will claim victory and who will lay claim to the year?
Which fighter is poised to angle their self in proper position?