June 27, 2019


BY: Chris Henderson

In July of 2017, Manny Pacquiao stepped into the ring in Brisbane, Australia to kick off the new Top Rank on ESPN deal for his longtime promoter Bob Arum. Pacquiao took on a local fighter named Jeff Horn who’s biggest claim to fame at that time was a win over a former world champion that was 10 years past his prime, Randall Bailey. Basically, it was looked at as a showcase bout for Pacquiao. But what happened in the ring was quite different than what most expected as Horn picked up the upset by way of a hotly debated unanimous decision.

While many thought the former eight-division champion did enough to garner the victory, it was evident that Pacquiao wasn’t anything close to the man that tore through hall of fame caliber fighters at breakneck speed while shooting to the top of many pound for pound lists. Fighters are always judged by their most recent performance and in reality Pacquiao in the ring, had not been the relentless destroyer of his rise in quite some time, well at least not until his last fight…

After suffering the upset loss to Horn, Pacquiao returned to the ring under his own promotional banner, MP Promotions, in July of this past year to face the then recently minted 36-year-old WBA “Regular” champion Lucas Matthysse. In that fight, Pacquiao dominated the action from the opening bell and went on to stop Matthysse in the 7th round. Matthysse announced his retirement just days after the beating, just like that “Pac is back” chants rang loud from every social media forum on the internet. After all it was his first stoppage win since a TKO over Miguel Cotto back in 2009.

Since that time, Pacquiao has aligned himself with the arch enemy, or perceived enemy at least, of his former promoter Arum, in PBC founder Al Haymon (side note: Arum and Haymon get along just fine if the money’s right, I promise). The new deal with PBC came after a “chance encounter” in Japan between Pacquiao and former foe Floyd Mayweather in which talks of a potential rematch took place. A new deal that excludes Arum and includes Haymon, Mayweather’s longtime adviser, would definitely make the rematch easier to make and according to Pacquiao it’s what will happen.

Whether he gets his sought after second chance to take Mayweather’s 0 is yet to be determined but the only way he or we find out is if he can get passed Adrien Broner on January 19th. Adrien “The Problem” Broner is a former 4 division champion himself and doesn’t for one minute think of himself as a “B” side opponent, footnote to be in Pacquiao’s quest for his shot at redemption against Mayweather.

The Cincinnati native is coming off a draw with former Pacquiao victim, Jesse Vargas. Prior to that he suffered a lopsided decision loss to Mikey Garcia. the reality of recent years is that Broner has been “The Problem” outside of the ring more than inside of it. His most recent victory came almost 2-years ago in a controversial split-decision over Adrian Granados.

There is, however, reason for optimism for Broner, who in the second half of the draw with Vargas, looked the best he has in a while. A fight which was his first with new trainer Kevin Cunningham. The Pacquiao fight will be Broner’s second full camp with with the no nonesense Cunningham. Prior to training professional champions, Cunningham was a longtime amateur coach who worked with Broner when AB was young, so there is a mutual chemistry and respect that AB and Cunningham seem to have as they work together?

Can Pac turn back the clock? Can Broner turn the corner with his new trainer? One fighter in the twilight of his great career, versus a fighter that should be in his prime, if not for a seemingly reckless lifestyle? One, a National treasure and Senator of his beloved country (Philippines), the other no stranger to jail and legal issues. Two sons of the great sport of boxing, one prodigal, one proud… Who wins? Tune in to Showtime PPV on Saturday, January 19th to find out!

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