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`Pacman’ vs. `The Problem’ Will Sort Out Perception From Reality

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  • `Pacman’ vs. `The Problem’ Will Sort Out Perception From Reality

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    By Bernard Fernandez

    Sometimes it is the fighters’ real or perceived flaws, as much as their strengths, that make for a compelling if not necessarily great fight. Such would appear to be the case when 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), the only man ever to win world championships in eight weight classes, defends his “regular” WBA welterweight title against 29-year-old former four-division champ Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) on Jan. 19 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden.

    The bout – marking “Pac-Man’s” first ring appearance on American soil in 26½ months, since he retained his WBO 147-pound crown on a unanimous decision over Jessie Vargas at Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center – is being heralded as a Really Big Deal, a precursor to more and better things for the living legend and sitting senator from the Philippines.

    “I have to pass through him before fighting Floyd Mayweather,” Pacquiao said of what hinges on the outcome of his scrap with Broner, hinting at a rematch with his fellow fortysomething that resulted in a wide unanimous decision for Mayweather on May 2, 2015, a fight that even then was several years past its optimum expiration date. “I want to prove to the boxing fans that Manny Pacquiao is still in the pack. You will see more fights with Manny Pacquiao in the United States.”

    Everyone involved in the promotion is making it sound like this bout, which hopefully will prove to be entertaining enough inside the ropes to warrant all the optimistic chatter, is on more or less the same level as 33-year-old, black-leather-encased Elvis Presley reminding everyone of just how huge he used to be with his globally televised, ratings-smashing “Aloha From Hawaii” comeback special on Jan. 14, 1973.

    Pacquiao-Broner, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, will be televised via Showtime Pay Per View and Stephen Espinoza, the premium-cable outfit’s president of Sports and Event Programming, is among those dropping broad hints that the fight just might be as much can’t-miss TV as was the slimmed-down Elvis going back to his roots to belt out “Jailhouse Rock,” which considering the oft-arrested Broner’s participation might not be wholly inaccurate.

    “Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner are two of the most gifted athletes in boxing today,” Espinoza gushed. “Both men throw punches with eye-opening speed and carry significant power in both hands. These attributes have made them two of the biggest draws in the sport. Pacquiao is a proven pay-per-view attraction, while Broner has consistently delivered many of the highest-rated boxing events on television. This matchup promises explosive action from bell to bell.”

    Well, maybe. Then again….

    It is axiomatic in the area of boxing promotion to never let any scintilla of negativity interfere with the obligatory cascade of breathless hype. For those at least willing to concede that all might not be as well as advertised, it should be noted that Pacquiao – a legitimate all-time great, future first-ballot Hall of Famer and three-time Fighter of the Year – has lost four of his last 10 fights and his seventh-round TKO of faded Argentine slugger Lucas Matthysse (who immediately announced his retirement) on July 15, might not have been as impressive as it appeared at first blush.

    Although Pacquiao came away with Matthysse’s secondary welterweight title and ended a 13-bout non-KO streak dating back to his 12th-round stoppage of Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14, 2009, the fight had to be promoted by Pacquiao himself in Kuala Lumpur because his longtime promotional company, Top Rank, had determined that the Manny Express no longer was capable of making regular stops to pick up sacks of box-office and TV profits. It also was for a belt handed out by the shameless WBA, which gleefully acknowledges “super,” “regular,” “interim” and all manner of other championships in the same weight classifications, the better to scoop up as many sanctioning fees as possible. The real WBA welterweight champion is Keith Thurman, who ends nearly two years of injury-prolonged inactivity when he takes on Joselito Lopez on Jan. 26 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Pacquiao found a new promotional partner in Al Haymon’s PBC because PBC signs fighters by the gross and, well, because “Pac-Man” still has the kind of transcendent name value that can be milked further. Manny fans always will be Manny fans, just as Elvis devotees never were going to stop getting weak in the knees whenever the King of Rock ’n’ Roll wiggled his hips on stage. But it will be up to the Fab Filipino to demonstrate that he still has more than fumes in the gas tank. The best-case scenario for him is that he justifies his significant -280 favoritism (bettors would have to wager $280 to come out a hundred bucks ahead) against Broner, who has an entirely different set of issues he needs to sort out both in the ring and in his train-wreck personal life.

    No one has ever disputed Broner’s talent, which he has flashed often enough to seduce his backers into thinking it can yet be an ongoing thing. But the man aptly nicknamed “The Problem” also will enter the ring shrouded in a haze of question marks. Once hailed as someone who might embellish Cincinnati’s proud pugilistic heritage that was crafted in large part by the far more accomplished Ezzard Charles and Aaron Pryor, both of whom have been enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Broner as presently constituted is at best a fringe candidate for IBHOF immortalization. He is just 3-2-1 in his last six outings and, although still young enough to be considered in his prime, his litany of brushes with the law suggests that he should consider going plural with his nome de guerre and start calling himself “Problems.” Snarky detractors sometimes refer to him as “Mayweather Lite,” which, all things considered, is still more complimentary than he deserves.

    In a Showtime episode of “All Access” meant to whet fan interest in the fight, Broner spoke of one of the first times he found himself incarcerated, facing a 57-year sentence, at which point the youthful miscreant vowed to himself that he would funnel his energy into boxing should he be fortunate to gain his freedom. He did, and he did. Except that he has spent so much time dealing with police that he could be the star of his own reality show, “Cops: On the Street With Adrien Broner.” In February 2018 he was arrested in an Atlanta mall on a charge of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly groping a woman, and he found himself in cuffs again just before Christmas, in Broward County, Fla., after a warrant was issued for his failure to appear in court earlier in the month. He was booked in county jail and then released, the case stemming to a December 2017 arrest when he was stopped for speeding and found to have no driver’s license, registration or proof of insurance.

    But a lot of the legal lint that has stuck to Broner’s Velcro suit could be brushed at least temporarily clean should the +240 underdog demonstrate that the Pacquiao of our fondest memories, the force of nature who defeated, among others, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley and Cotto, is incapable of solving one more Problem.

    Until the first punch is thrown, much of the prefight drama will center on matters that are somewhat peripheral to whatever takes place inside the ropes. After briefly parting, Pacquiao and his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, are reuniting for another grab for some of that old glory, and they’re both making it sound like there is more magic to be made.

    “I am not making a prediction, but my goal is to knock out Broner,” Pacquiao said. “I forgot how much fun winning a fight by knockout was until I stopped Lucas Matthysse last summer. It felt great to win that way and the fans loved it too, so why not try for it again?”

    Said Roach, perhaps oblivious to diminishment of any fighter’s skills by the relentless march of time: “I think experience has made Manny a better fighter. He still trains harder than anyone. I like Broner as a fighter. I think he has excellent boxing skills. But Broner has never faced anyone like Manny. Broner will be mentally exhausted within four rounds and physically spent within six. It will be impossible for Broner to keep pace with the Manny Pacquiao of this training camp.”

    We shall see.

    Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    It's ironic that a fighter frequently accused of steroid use would go by the nickname Pacman because in the classic Pac-Man video game, consumption of "Power Pellets" make our hero temporarily invincible and able to gobble up ghosts and regular pac-dots much more easily. Also, no matter how many times Pac-Man dies or how badly he loses - he just keeps coming back to play again and again! This PPV farce does nothing for me or for anyone else. If this is the best boxing can do, I'd rather watch a Sanford and Son marathon. Don't go away mad just go away.
    Last edited by KO Digest; 01-08-2019, 07:54 AM.

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    • #3
      I think it's a very compelling fight and while it won't do huge numbers on PPV, I think it will exceed expectations because we have (for most fans) a defined hero and a defined villain.

      The big question is whether a big jerk like Broner can hang on for the next 11 days without getting his *** thrown in jail for something stupid and wrecking the promotion. If this should happen, it would serve PBC and Showtime right for investing so much time and money in a loose cannon. I trust they had the foresight to have a standby at the ready.

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      • #4
        Why is Pac a heroic figure?

        He pulled off the real fraud in #MayPac.

        And laughed all the way to an off shore bank.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KO Digest View Post
          Why is Pac a heroic figure?

          He pulled off the real fraud in #MayPac.

          And laughed all the way to an off shore bank.
          I tend to agree with KO recognizing that I am risking the wrath of our Editor. Pac has lost much of his power and Broner is hard to put away. That makes Broner a live dog--pardon the pun.Also, every time Pac is about to fight, Roach et al exclaim how he has had a "super" camp and is the "Eye of the Tiger." Ugh. Getting sick of Pac's rap.

          BTW, If I wrote an article about Broner, it would be entitled, "Self-inflicted Wounds." Bernard's piece is a gem as usual.

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          • #6
            In the Philippines Pacquiao is a national hero (no exaggeration), not just because of what he accomplished in the ring but because of his reputation as a great philanthropist. He has given away most of his money to people in need. That makes him a hero in the Philippines but also a hero to many people in many other parts of the world.

            P.S. -- It would be pretty hard to incur the wrath of the editor. I love lively debates.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ArneK. View Post
              In the Philippines Pacquiao is a national hero (no exaggeration), not just because of what he accomplished in the ring but because of his reputation as a great philanthropist. He has given away most of his money to people in need. That makes him a hero in the Philippines but also a hero to many people in many other parts of the world.

              P.S. -- It would be pretty hard to incur the wrath of the editor. I love lively debates.
              I'm have been thinking about the subject of Hero's and Boxing. and quickly realized there are very, very few. Vernon Forrest was about the only one I could come up with. I still might write it, though. Hero is one of the most misused words in the dictionary. Sadat, Schwarzkopf, Mandel, MLK, come to mind, but not many boxers.

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              • #8
                AB one day before being dominated by Marcos Maidana:

                "Every boxer wants to be where I am. I'm the person who's going to take over boxing after Floyd Mayweather. Everybody wants this position. Maidana is a good fighter, a hell of a fighter, but he’s not on my level. I don't go for knockouts but I really feel I'm going to knock this guy out. I'm going to be his first stoppage. Maybe I mess him up in two. Maybe one. If he makes a mistake and I have a chance to get him out of there I'm going to get him out of there. If I just beat him to death, then I beat him to death."

                AB an hour after being dominated by Maidana:

                "I'm OK, it happens to the best of them. I'm still one of the best. Maidana did a hell of a job. He was the better man. I'm still AB. I'm in a dangerous sport and I fought until the end. Some fans love me. Some hate me. We're not gonna sit in sorrow. We're still gonna live tomorrow like we won the fight. All I can do is go back to the drawing board and come back to fight my butt off."
                Last edited by KO Digest; 01-09-2019, 08:29 AM.

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                • Kid Blast
                  Kid Blast commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Not bad for him...................

              • #9
                AB sure hasn't earned a PPV $$$ fight at this point.

                I thought his loss to Mikey was the end of his relevance.

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                • Kid Blast
                  Kid Blast commented
                  Editing a comment
                  But he presents the notion of "good" vs. "evil."

              • #10
                I can't believe anyone in boxing even cares about this fight!

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