Manny Pacquiao headlines the MGM Grand as he steps into the ring for a 70th time to face Adrien Broner this weekend. On paper, it’s a past his prime future Hall of Famer against a career underachiever. But, as is so often the case with boxing, you don’t have to dig too deep to discover subtext and stakes that make this matchup so compelling.
For someone with such an illustrious career – he’s boxing’s only eight-division world champion – Pacquiao’s defiance of Father Time still remains hugely impressive. Now 40, a pension-collecting age in this sport, he defends the WBA regular welterweight championship he won last year.
After a crushing knockout to long-time foe Juan Manuel Marquez, a convincing loss to Floyd Mayweather and a contentious defeat to unfancied Jeff Horn, the glory days of the Filipino fighter looked to be long gone. But a knockout victory against Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 to take the WBA belt showed Pacquiao still packs a potent punch.
This is by no means a peak Pac-Man, but he still starts as the favourite. He’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt so many times he’d need to visit a laundrette.
Will he continue to enjoy this career Indian summer? Or will the aforementioned Father Time finally have his way with this sporting great?
With world titles in four weight classes, dismissing Broner as someone who’s flattered to deceive seems foolhardy. But the feeling that the self-appointed ‘heir to Floyd Mayweather’ has more to give remains.
The stick with which to beat Broner remains – he’s his biggest enemy. Unsavoury antics outside the ring have led to a slanted focus, culminating in losses to Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia. Credible opponents admittedly, but ones you’d still fancy a fully firing Broner to dispatch.
If ‘The Problem’ can put aside his testing petulance and prize open his abundant trove of talent, he can catapult himself back into world title contention.
Pacquiao has just one knockout in nearly 10 years and is 12/5 on to end that. Can Broner use this an invitation to take a chance in Vegas and use that mercurial hand speed to take him back to the top?
Odds correct at time of publication. Subject to change.
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