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Pacquiao vs. Broner: Adrien in a must-win fight

Adrien Broner Manny Pacquiao

By Sean Jones: Adrien Broner has a chance to rejuvenate his sagging career this month in challenging WBA World welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao for his belt on SHOWTIME PPV on January 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Broner is in position to turn things around with his career by beating former eight division world champion Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) in less than 2 weeks to make himself a two-time welterweight champion. Broner, 5’7″, will have the size and youth advantage over the 5’6 1/2″ Pacquiao, but that might not be enough.

It’s a fight that could lead to big things for Broner. A predictable fight that can be made for Broner is for him to face the winner of the March 16th Mikey Garcia vs. Errol Spence Jr. fight. Pacquiao is going to want a rematch with Broner, but that’s a fight that could possibly be put off a little while. Broner, Pacquiao and Spence are all managed by Al Haymon. A deal could be worked out for Broner to put off a rematch with Pacquiao until after he faces the Garcia vs. Spence winner. Of course, this can’t happen unless Broner does his part by beating Pacquiao on January 19. The former four division world champion Broner is an underdog in this fight, as one would expect. Broner has failed to produce a win in his last two fights against Jessie Vargas and Mikey Garcia. The fire that Broner once had in his fighting style has looked extinguished as of late, and it’s unclear whether it can ever be reignited.

“It’s good to see Manny wants those knockouts because when he does that he’s pretty much unstoppable. He just punches too fast and too hard,” Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said to Fighthub.

Broner is going up against a fighter that wants to knock him out on January 19, and that means he’s going to need to be ready to fight a lot harder than he did against Vargas and Mikey. Those guys weren’t trying to KO him with every punch. Mikey, who is normally a knockout puncher, was content to box his way to a 12 round decision when he saw that Broner was fighting in the survival mode, and not putting out much effort to win. Vargas isn’t a slugger, so he did what he had to win rounds. At the end of the fight, it looked like Vargas had done more than enough to get the ‘W’, but the judges scored it a controversial draw. That wasn’t the first fight that Broner has been involved in where he appeared to lose, but the judges scored it differently than how the fight played out. In addition to his fight with Vargas, Broner could have easily lost to Adrian Granados, Daniel Ponce De Leon and Paulie Malignaggi.

“Broner’s dangerous. He’s going to come in this fight in shape,” Fortune said. So if he’s on his game, I still got Manny by late round stoppage. If he’s off his game, it’s an early round stoppage.”

It’s hard to know what version of Broner will turn up for the fight. When he’s fighting at a high level like he did against John Molina Jr. in 2015, Gavin Rees in 2013, Antonio DeMarco, Vicente Escobedo and Eloy Perez in 2012, he’s going to be very hard to beat. The problem that Broner has is those fights were so long ago, and he hasn’t looked anywhere near as good as he did way back then. Broner’s last good performance against Molina Jr. was four years ago, and his wins over Rees, DeMarco, Escobedo and Perez were six to seven years ago. That’s ancient history. Broner has looked nothing like the fighter that he once was in his last six fights. Whatever has been holding Broner back from being the fighter that he was back in 2012, he’s going to have to overcome that problem when he gets inside the ring with Manny on January 19. It could turn out really badly for Broner if he doesn’t bring his A-game to fight the way he used to 7 years ago.

Fortune doesn’t rate Broner’s power as being on the same level as Pacquiao. He sees Broner as having the punching power of a fighter from the light welterweight division. Even in that, Broner wouldn’t be considered a big puncher at 140, as there are guys that can really punch in that division like Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez, Ivan Baranchyk, Maurice Hooker and Kiryl Relikh. Broner, 29, is more of a slapper in comparison to those fighters. Although Broner can punch with good power when he sits down on his shots, he doesn’t do that enough for him to be seen as hard thrower at 140.

“He’s a ‘40 pounder. The power doesn’t compare to Pacquiao,” Fortune said. “Look at every one of Manny’s opponents the last 10 years. After the fight they look like they’ve been through a bloody war. They are just busted up. I don’t think Adrien wants to get that busted up in a fight,” Fortune said.

In other words, it sounds like Fortune believes that Broner isn’t going to be willing to go to war in a way that he’ll need to for him to have a shot at winning this fight against Pacquiao. To look at the way Broner fought against Mikey and Vargas in his last two fights, it’s easy to predict that he’s going to avoid mixing it up with Pacquiao on January 19. Broner basically gave away the first six rounds to Vargas and Garcia in both of those fights by playing it safe on the outside. Once those fighters went into cruise control and were sitting on their huge leads, Broner came on a little bit in the second half of the fights to win some rounds. Only Broner knows why he didn’t put out any effort in the first six rounds against Garcia and Vargas. It was either a situation where Broner was afraid of getting clipped with something big by those two guys while they were still fresh or he didn’t want to expend the energy needed for him to have a chance of winning.

If Broner was concerned about potentially gassing out in the later rounds, one way for him to avoid that from happening would be for him to conserve energy in the first half of those fights. It looked to this writer like Broner was conserving energy so that he wouldn’t gas out late and get stopped. Broner can’t fight that way against Pacquiao and have a chance of winning. Pacquiao is going to be on top of him the entire fight, looking to overwhelm him with punches the way he does when he’s fighting someone that isn’t throwing a lot. Playing possum against Pacquiao would be the wrong thing for Broner to do. The Filipino star is not going to feel sorry for him, and just pot shot his way to a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision. Pacquiao wants a knockout after scoring an impressive seventh round stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse. That fight showed Manny how important it is for him to knockout his opponents like he had been doing up until 2009. Pacquiao stopped knocking guys out after his 12th round TKO victory over Miguel Cotto in 2009, and that resulted in him not generating as much excitement from the boxing fans as there had been earlier. Had he focused on continuing to knockout his opponents, Pacquiao might have saved himself from losing to Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Jeff Horn. There wasn’t much Pacquiao could do in his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He was injured for that fight, and it was never going to be easy for him to score a stoppage over Floyd with his defensive skills.

This is a fight that change Broner’s destiny, and make him money for the future if he can pull off the upset against Pacquiao. Broner is absolutely in a must-win situation. If he loses to Pacquiao by a knockout or a one-sided 12 round decision, his career career could be over with for all intents and purposes. Broner will still get fights obviously, but it would make it difficult for him to be taken seriously as a B-side opponent for the championship level fighters. As it is right now, Broner doesn’t deserve to be fighting for a world title against Pacquiao. Given that Broner’s last win came two years ago in 2017 against Adrian Granados, he doesn’t deserve to be fighting for a world title. Broner’s record in his last two fights is 0-1-1. That’s pitiful for a world title challenger. Broner hasn’t achieved lately, and that makes him unsuitable for a world title shot against Pacquiao.

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