Fight day is finally upon us and we are a few hours away from witnessing history anew as Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) sets forth to prove that 40 is indeed just a number in his 70th professional bout against Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1 NC, 24 KOs).
Predictions are always tricky especially for a fight like this where some crucial variables will only manifest once both fighters answer the opening bell.
For the 8-division boxing world champion, and no matter how much his camp downplays his advanced age, Pacquiao will always have to answer questions about father time from here on out. Team Pacquiao has implemented a different approach in training by prioritizing recovery which the 40-year-old fighting senator credited for his knockout victory over Lucas Matthysse last July, his first stoppage win since the Miguel Cotto fight in 2009.
Pacquiao looked great at the weigh-ins and in training camp. But let’s be honest, when has Pacquiao looked terrible in camp? I guess there were stories of sparring partners who were sent home prior to the Mayweather fight while Pacquiao nursed that shoulder injury which they only disclosed to the public after the fight and Pacquiao’s press corps kept under wraps, but nothing of that nature hounded this fight. Pacquiao looks good. But as any 40-year-old can attest, whether he wakes up like a young, hungry and energetic lion today prior to the fight or a tired, old house cat is something only older people can relate to. With that said, Pacquiao is an elite athlete and if anyone is to defy 40, he’s the one to do so.
Broner, on the other hand, has been training his butt off himself. He looked toned and ripped at the weigh-ins, and expect him to be the much bigger man in the ring today after he re-hydrates and bulks back up. Broner recognizes the opportunity he has in front of him to regain much lost luster in his career and secure bigger paydays in the future. Questions about his conditioning and focus have surfaced in the past, but this version of AB looks like he’s determined to deliver the fight of his life against a legend like Pacquiao.
Broner has also felt slighted throughout the promotion of this fight. He claimed how the promotional outfit didn’t spend money on this fight as if he was just fodder for Pacquiao’s quest for a rematch against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. A motivated, almost desperate, and in-shape Broner with a massive chip on his shoulder, I say, is capable of shocking the world.
Pacquiao’s speed, power and awkward angles will be the biggest problems for Broner to solve. Broner also tends to stay in the pocket and fall in love with the shoulder roll without moving his feet and staying active. The blueprint for beating Pacquiao is out there. I don’t see Broner fighting the way he did against Maidana nor a lot of his previous fights when he faces Pacquiao in the right tonight. I believe he will try to box Pacquiao the way Mayweather did, and be opportunistic when he can the way Marquez did. The question is, how will he manage to do that if Pacquiao closes in on him with a flurry of his 6-punch combos like the young Manny did to overwhelm most of his opponents at his prime.
I expect a much tougher fight than some people have suggested. I do believe the KO is in play, especially if Pacquiao truly wants to go after it. In reality though, Pacquiao has only lost to elite boxers (not counting the questionable losses to Horn and Bradley 1), if Broner is to pull off a major upset tonight, he will have to implement a perfect game plan and muster the best performance of his career, because one mistake can end his night against a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
I really can’t say I am certain what will happen tonight, but if I had a gun to my head and forced to predict an outcome, I say Broner fights an intelligent fight and gives Pacquiao a more difficult fight than expected, but eventually, the Filipino boxing legend’s activity and speed will be enough for the decision win. Barring any controversies, I see Pacquiao walking away with a unanimous or split decision victory.
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