By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ON Sunday Filipino boxing superstar Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao returns to the ring, staking his World Boxing Association welterweight title against American challenger Adrien “The Problem” Broner in a headlining fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It is a fight that is being hailed a lot riding on, with one local combat sports analyst even looking at it as having a “much to lose” setup for eight-division world champion Pacquiao at this stage of his storied career.
Mr. Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) enters the contest on Sunday (Manila time) off a convincing victory over Lucas Matthysse of Argentina in July, where he seized the WBA title in a convincing seventh-round technical knockout victory.
It was a successful bounce back for the Filipino boxing superstar after losing to Australian Jeff Horn by unanimous decision in July 2017 while also reasserting his claim of not being done in boxing even at the age of 40.
It is this precise scenario, as well as the kind of challenge that Mr. Broner is expected to present, that fight analyst Nissi Icasiano is viewing the about-to-unfold bout.
“Manny Pacquiao puts his WBA welterweight championship at stake against the man who was once the self-appointed heir to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s throne. It’s a no-brainer that Broner will try to put an effort to shift a reputation of being a career underachiever,” said Mr. Icasiano in an online correspondence with BusinessWorld as he set up the significance of the title fight.
“After somehow breathing a new life into his career in July of last year, Manny has everything to lose in this bout against Broner if he will not get the favorable result that he wants. The momentum he built in Kuala Lumpur could go into waste. Everybody loves a winner, but it’s a different story if you’re on the losing end,” he added.
Mr. Icasiano went on to say that he welcomes the return of veteran trainer Freddie Roach to the Pacquiao camp for the Broner fight, believing that the expertise of Mr. Roach would go a long way in crafting a fitting game plan for the kind of opponent that Pacman will be facing.
“Buboy Fernandez managed to jolt what was left in Manny Pacquiao’s relentless style six months ago. Will Freddie Roach still play a good part? Absolutely! He knows Manny so well. They’ve been together since 2001. I think a great mind like Freddie Roach will be handy in devising a game plan coming into the fight and also making some adjustments during the bout or in crucial scenarios,” Mr. Icasiano said.
As to Mr. Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs), the analyst said he is expecting the American to pose problems to Mr. Pacquiao but sees some openings in his arsenal that the Filipino could take advantage of in trying to pick up the win.
“It’s no secret that Manny Pacquiao had difficulties with counterpunchers in the past, and Adrien Broner is a counterpuncher. Age is also very palpable variable,” said Mr. Icasiano.
Adding, “If there is an upside, there is also a downside (though). Pressure fighters like Marcos Maidana easily opened the defenses of Broner like a can of tuna. Sometimes, Broner can get carried away and go for exchanges, which leaves him vulnerable. Second, the advantage of age is not absolute. It is at most times relative. It is not accurate simply to say that a much older fighter will lose against a younger one. There are many older fighters who have won matches through craftiness and well-implemented strategies. Broner is also known for using the Philly Shell, otherwise called as shoulder roll. But he can’t use that against a southpaw like Pacquiao because it will leave him open. I expect it to be a cat-and-mouse affair for 12 rounds. Pacquiao will be relentless in attacks, while Broner will try to frustrate the Filipino boxing champion with his passive-but-technical approach.”
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo