The question ahead of the fight between Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao and American perennial also-ran Adrien Broner was a simple one: would we get the Pacquiao of old or an old Pacquaio? This fight, coming on the heels of 'Pac Man' turning 40, held the key to his future between the ropes and perhaps, a rematch with the still undefeated (and self-proclaimed the best ever fighter) Floyd Mayweather Jr. The answer: While Pacquiao certainly isn't the whirlwind of fists and feints that reduced elite-level competition to rubble during his dream run from 2007 to 2012, he's far from finished
Indeed, the Pacquiao that turned up at the MGM Grand on Saturday night is still a top-flight fighter who would be handful for any top Welterweight (save Terrence Crawford, who is too young, too fast and too talented or Errol Spence Jr, who is simply too big and too young). Pacquiao in his prime would have given both of those men fits stylistically and simply gobbled up Broner, who let his fists fly in the ring far less than his mouth flapped in the run-up to the fight and after the fight. That this Pacquiao version 2.0 — a crafty, calculating slugger still capable of detonating bombs on the chin of his opponents even though his power and precision has unquestionably faded — thoroughly dominated Broner, who is a talented underachiever, remains a testament to his class.
In the early rounds, Pacquiao seemed rusty and a tad overeager. He winged his punches from wide and threw far more than he missed. But he seemed committed to working his way into Broner's defenses through his jab. Broner in typical form, seemed to do a poor man's version of Floyd Mayweather Jr and seemed content to lay back as Pacquiao piled up the points. The Manila native kept hammering Broner to the head and body with that famous left hand, which took him from the outhouse to the Senate. The opening the Cincinnati native kept waiting for never arrived as the Pacquiao combined his speed of hand and foot with unorthodox angles to pile up the points.
Rounds four, five and six were Broner's best, but Pacquiao rallied to take at least one of those on the cards. The second half of the fight belonged to Pacquiao entirely. It opened with a fusillade in the seventh which buckled Broner's legs and had him hanging on for dear life. Broner somehow kept on his feet and managed to get through the round without going down. The ninth saw Pacquiao land perhaps the best shot of the night, which sent Broner stumbling to the ropes, launching a thousand gifs on social media. The rest of the fight was spent by Broner trying to avoid battle and Pacquiao doggedly giving chase.
The final bell saw Broner, rather comically, jump onto the ropes and thump his chest like he was King Kong who'd just vanquished Godzilla. Pacquiao was serene: just another night's work for the eight-division champion. The decision was unanimous: Pacquiao the winner on all three scorecards. Then, Broner disgraced himself by swearing up a storm in the post-fight interview and claiming he'd been robbed. As per the fight stats, Pacquiao threw 568 shots and landed 112, while Broner threw 295 and landed just 50. There can be only two explanations for Broner's post-fight behaviour: delusions of grandeur or a face-saving attempt by someone who'd been utterly humiliated by his better.
What next? For Broner, the status of gatekeeper: a guy for young, up and coming fighters to beat up on as they try to climb the ladder. To be a cautionary tale of someone who had it all and threw it away out of indiscipline and hubris. And Pacquiao? In the post-fight interview, the Filipino seemed intent on avenging his 2015 loss: he called out Floyd Mayweather Jr, who just happened to be sitting at ringside and enjoying retirement. Does anyone really want to see the rematch of a fight that was at least five years past its expiry date? No. And will we watch anyway? Hell yes!
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Updated Date: Jan 20, 2019 17:28:08 IST