Fresh off an impressive seventh-round knockout over Lucas Matthysse in April, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao is back in action on Jan. 19 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, taking on Adrien “The Problem” Broner. Broner, 29, is coming off a wild majority draw decision against Jessie Vargas in April and is a +180 underdog in this fight with Pacquiao, 39, coming back as a -230 favorite.
This is the third straight fight in which Broner has been an underdog, previously closing at +150 vs Jessie Vargas and +900 against Mikey Garcia. Meanwhile, Pacquiao has been a favorite in each of his last four fights, falling only to Jeff Horn in July of last year over that span. Pac-Man’s knockout over Lucas Matthysse in July was his first T/KO victory since he finished Miguel Cotto in 2009 at the very same arena he is fighting Broner in.
For Broner, this is the third return to welterweight, a class in which each of his three career losses have come. It’s not surprising to see Pacquiao as the favorite at -230 as he is a future Hall of Famer and is coming off an impressive knockout. Broner had a lot of hype behind him a few years ago but has been plagued by legal issues and has failed to live up to expectations.
PACQUIAO MAKING A CASE FOR A REMATCH VS MAYWEATHER?
Pacquiao (-230) is an eight-division world champion and for a while he was ranked as the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world, with tremendous heart and thunderous punching power. The 39-year-old has won three of his last four fights, including his aforementioned knockout over Lucas Matthysse in July, his first knockout victory since November 2009 against Miguel Cotto.
The southpaw was brutally knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 for the first back-to-back losing slide of his career after falling to Timothy Bradley six months prior. However, since the knockout loss, Pac-Man is 6-2 with his only losses coming against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Jeff Horn (in controversial fashion), both by unanimous decision. He outstruck Horn 182-92 while landing 32 percent of his punches to just 15 percent by Horn – that’s boxing judges for you.
BRONER NEEDS TO BE FOCUSED TO BEAT PACQUIAO
Broner (+180) has all the makings of an elite fighter but his career has been marred by out-of-competition antics that have gotten him in legal troubles. Most recently, the 29-year-old was booked on a misdemeanor sexual battery charge in February of this year. The Problem fights a defensive style, somewhat emulating Floyd Mayweather Jr., and was even drawing some comparisons during his rise through the ranks, including his split-decision victory over Paulie Malignaggi in 2013. The Ohio native also has had issues with his focus, it seems, looking very pedestrian against Mikey Garcia in 2017, but looked much better in his majority draw with Jessie Vargas in 2018.
Against Vargas, Broner employed a second-half battle approach, losing the first six rounds but winning the last six. He was outstruck 203-194 but landed 38 percent of his punches to Vargas’ 24 percent. The Problem does have power in his hands, like his counterpart, as he was able to knock Shawn Porter down in their bout in 2015, a fight that Porter won via unanimous decision. The knockdown was Broner’s only bright spot of the bout.
HOW WILL THIS FIGHT PLAY OUT
Pacquiao has a lot to lose in this fight as I believe if he puts in an impressive performance in this bout against a guy who was compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr., he may get his rematch with Mayweather, which comes with a big payday. On the other side, when Broner is focused and ready to battle, he can be very elusive and accurate with his punches that could carry him to victory. I think overall, Pac-Man is going to really pressure Broner and work the body hoping to keep his offense at bay in the later rounds.
Prediction: Manny Pacquiao (-230) via decision