Well, here we are. The year is 2019 and we’re somehow discussing Adrien Broner as a principle participant in a somewhat meaningful PPV fight. I shouldn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t have to do this.
Coming up with a fresh narrative every time Broner decides to put down the nachos, slap on some gloves, and sleepwalk through another grossly underwhelming decision loss is a Sisyphean task no man should have to endure. Yet every ten months or so we’re all forced to pull up to our keyboards and barf out some delusional takes bordering on confabulation and frankly I’d rather do a frame by frame critical analysis of Broner’s sex tape than discuss his in-ring prowess, or extreme lack thereof, ever again.
If I ran over a wizard’s kid with my car and was cursed with eternal life that still wouldn’t grant me enough time to fully understand this sport’s obsession with fostering Broner’s manifestly nonexistent potential. Somewhere in the dark, smoke-filled boardrooms of boxing’s underbelly there’s a safe that contains a picture of a powerful executive standing over the urine-drenched corpse of a pre-pubescent Croatian runaway and Broner has the negatives. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for his upcoming fight this Saturday against living legend Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Showtime PPV.
I won’t attempt to recount Broner’s myriad crimes against common sense and you don’t have enough space on your hard drive for me to try. Even rehashing the dumb shit he’s done just this week would crash your smartphone. And maybe the most egregious of Broner’s sins is that he’s become a boring fighter. This sport will forgive almost any personal indiscretion as long as you can guarantee violence inside the ring. Go ahead and act like you were raised by fucking wolves as long you also fight like one. Broner only has the first part down.
He’s not a good dude and no one pretends he is.
You know what though? Neither is Manny Pacquiao. For all his smiling piety and aw shucks obsequiousness he has a real propensity for barbarism. He hates gay people with the fervor of a republican senator and his views on monogamy could loosely be described as “resistant.” He’s advocated for the execution of drug dealers which is an odd stance for someone who’s ingested more narcotics than Johnny Tapia at Burning Man.
But here’s the thing….this is boxing. If we start judging fighters on their moral character we’re gonna run out of dudes to root for pretty god damn quick. So let’s set their shittiness aside for a moment and just look at the matchup inside the ring.
This is a classic crossroads fight but not in the way you’re probably thinking. Pacquiao is most definitely on the back nine of his career but he’s playing with house money at this point. There’s nails being pounded into the walls of the wing he has waiting for him in Canastota but he’s also very much in the current mix at welterweight. A loss to Broner puts an end to that but not necessarily to his earning power or his ability to book big fights. A win over a younger, stronger fighter like Broner puts a rumored rematch with Floyd Mayweather on the fast track and would deliver a knockout blow to Pacquiao’s most dangerous opponent ever, the IRS.
Broner, on the other hand, has exhausted all of his appeals. Even the patience of his most ardent supporters has worn dangerously thin. The rinse and repeat of his “talk shit, come in overweight, lose a boring decision and bitch about it on Instagram” and the insufferable “We’re Finally Gonna See the Real Adrien Broner” think pieces that precede it are lost on all but the most sycophantic of fans. A loss to Pacquiao puts a long overdue nail into the coffin of his career. He’ll fight on because he’ll have to, but with a personality that already borders on parody it’ll be strictly as sideshow on the outskirts of contention.
Though 11 years and 239 rounds separate them, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KO) is actually the favorite here, to the tune of -250/+225 in most current betting circles and that feels about right. Anything can happen if and when the goblins of time catch up with a fighter but even a 40 year old Manny Pacquiao should have enough left in the tank to dispatch of the current version of Broner.
With an aging fighter in front of him, Broner will, now more than ever, live and die by his punch output and, hoo boy, is that ever a problem.
In his last six fights Broner (33-3-1, 24 KO) has averaged just a hair under 40 punches thrown per round and that just simply isn’t enough to keep even a middle aged Pacquiao off him. He went 3-2-1 in that stretch so you can see how well that passivity is working for him. Not to mention Broner has gotten progressively more flat-footed in his later career outings and that will only serve to bolster a hungry Pacquiao looking to prove that his July 2018 knockout of Lucas Matthysse, his first in almost a decade, was no fluke. That the heavy-handed psychopath of the late 2000’s who throws from angles you’d need a protractor to measure is back!
Of course that’s complete bullshit, but so is most of life, so let’s run with it.
If Broner plans on standing mostly stationary behind a shoulder roll defense that he never came close to mastering while waiting for his openings to pot-shot Pacquiao –and he absolutely plans on doing that– it’ll be an easy night for the Filipino. Broner has actually shown a fairly sturdy chin throughout his career but Pacquiao can feast on that style until he’s in his 60’s.
Again, we shouldn’t expect to see the Pacquiao of old, but Broner has shown absolutely zero ability to keep active, swarming fighters off of him (Shawn Porter, Marcos Maidana and Jesse Vargas all say hi), and even into his fifth decade on this planet Pacquiao should be able to continue that trend.
Broner’s most complete performance in a boxing ring came against Tony DeMarco back in 2012. Pacquiao’s peak probably came in the first half of the Miguel Cotto fight, even further back in 2009. The problem for Broner is that somehow, inexplicably, he has deteriorated more in the ensuing six years than Pacquiao did in almost a decade.
In Manny Pacquiao’s heyday this fight is a crime scene. Hell, even putting Broner in with the Pacquiao of five years ago could be construed as criminal negligence. But quadragenarians and professional boxing rings make fools of betting men so past is definitely not prologue here.
If you put a gun to my head – which A) Please stop doing that and B) Don’t pull it out unless you’re gonna use it – and forced me to make a pick I’d say Pacquiao by fairly wide UD. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 117-111 feels right. Unless that rat bastard Father Time and his skanky little friend The Laws of Physics intercede like a theoretical Fan Man, I simply don’t see Broner having anything to offer that Pacquiao hasn’t seen before and much, much better.
On the whole, a Pacquiao win is better for the sport. I’m not over here playing Dr. Boxing and diagnosing the long term health of the sport but no one wants to see what an empowered Adrien Broner would look like were he to get a legendary name like Pacquiao’s on his resume.
Plus, shitty dudes getting lit up will never go out of style.
And Adrien Broner is as shitty as they come.
(Manny Pacquiao (L) and Adrien Broner face off during a press conference at Gotham Hall in preparation for their upcoming match on Nov. 19, 2018 in New York City. The match is set to take place on Jan. 19, 2019 in Las Vegas; Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)