Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner: Superstars at a crossroads

Beyond the glamour and glitz of Saturday’s Showtime PPV headliner are two warriors ready to risk it all.

What do you get when you pit two of the most entertaining ring personalities against one another in a must-win, big money contest? A sure-fire prizefight event.

This Saturday, January 19, at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand and live on SHOWTIME pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) battles four-division titlist Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) in a welterweight contest where the loser could very well be pushed off the boxing main stage for good.

For Pacquiao, beating Broner means another step toward reclaiming top status in a 147-pound division that had seemingly cast him aside following losses to Floyd Mayweather and Jeff Horn in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Despite the setbacks, the self-belief of the Filipino Senator and icon never wavered. Pacquiao notched decisive wins over Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas after the Mayweather loss and, following the controversial decision that went Horn’s way, bounced back with a one-sided battering of heavy-handed Argentine Lucas Matthysse one year later. Pacquiao scored three knockdowns en route to a seventh-round TKO to win the “regular” WBA welterweight title and register his first stoppage win in almost nine years.

Pacquiao’s subsequent decision to sign with Premier Boxing Champions, the company that works with most of the top talent at welterweight, shows that, even at 40 years of age, he is still a world-class fighter in pursuit of challenges.

As a fighter, Pacquiao’s off-putting, herky-jerky southpaw style has perplexed two full generations of fighters, often turning elite-level champions into tentative pickers and pawers.

Pacquiao has forgotten more boxing than most fighters today will ever know. Coupled with his still-prodigious athletic ability, he remains one of the division’s elite. His sharp left hand can be thrown from all angles, but Pacquiao is more of a stinger than a slayer these days. He generates enough pop to keep opponents honest, but not enough to be considered a true knockout puncher, as he was in the lower divisions.

As a fighter who relies on his speed, reflexes, and the ability to throw opposition off-kilter, he is at his best against methodical sluggers. Adrien Broner isn’t an ideal Pacquiao fall guy, but the defending titlist seems eager to turn him into one.

"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 to win the WBA welterweight title…It felt great to win that way and the fans loved it too, so why not try for it again?"

The 29-year-old Broner was once considered a can’t-miss prospect but has since earned a reputation as an underachiever. Broner is great at drumming up controversy yet hasn’t lived up to his full potential as a fighter.

When forced into a battle, though, Broner has responded like a warrior. Against the big-punching Marcos Maidana in 2013, he fought from behind fiercely in a failed effort to snatch victory from defeat. In 2015, he dropped Shawn Porter in the twelfth round of a bout he was already too far behind to win.

When the stakes are high and pride is on the line, the world often sees the best of Broner—and the stakes could not be any higher this Saturday.

A win over Pacquiao does wonders for Broner’s career. There is plenty of weight in beating the man who holds victories over Hall of Famers like Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Ricky Hatton.

"This win makes me an icon,” Broner said. “It makes me what I always wanted to be, and what everybody always thought I would be. A win here and I’m a legend overnight.”

Broner has the raw physical ability to do everything needed to beat Pacquiao. The question is whether he can be patient enough to create opportunities and if he is driven enough to accept getting clipped a few times to dish out his own punishment.

He’ll be tempted to box Pacquiao—something which will keep him safe and marginally in the fight —but, in order to win, he’ll need to engage with the defending WBA titlist, earn his respect, and catch the eyes of the judges.

Pacquiao’s best defense has always been offense. He must hit and hurt Broner in order to sap his will. Broner can be nudged into inactivity and Pacquiao might be able to push him into his shell by registering some early, sharp scoring shots.

Pacquiao-Broner can play out several ways and that’s what makes this important encounter between two of the game’s biggest characters such a compelling matchup.

Former heavyweight titlist Frank Bruno once called boxing “Showbiz with blood.” No phrase better describes what fans will get this Saturday when Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner meet.

For a closer look at Pacquiao vs Broner, check out our fight page.

For info on how to order the #PacBroner PPV, go to SHOWTIME's website.

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