It’s 2019 but Manny Pacquiao is still boxing like it’s 1999! The evergreen Filipino defends his title this Saturday against four-weight champ and boxing bad-boy Adrien Broner in Las Vegas.
On the undercard is the world championship bout between bantamweights Rau’shee Warren and Nordine Oubaali, and the intriguing light heavyweight clash featuring world level veteran Badou Jack and American rising star Marcus Browne.
And on Friday in New York (below), there are run-outs for Irish super bantamweight top-boy TJ Doheny, middleweight supremo Demetrius Andrade, and former three-weight chief Jorge Linares.
Manny Pacquiao v Adrien Broner
When Pacquiao looked mediocre in his close points defeat to Jeff Horn in 2017, nobody would have argued if the legend hung up his gloves and took his place in boxing’s Hall of Fame. Instead, he dusted himself down and won a version of the welterweight crown in his very next contest.
At his age (40) and on this form, ‘Pac Man’ wouldn’t be favourite against any of the other title holders, but Broner is the perfect opponent – a big name, an even bigger mouth, and he doesn’t have the size and energy of Horn.
What ‘AB’ does have is timing and the counter-punch that could catch out a Pacquiao with fading reflexes. Broner has KO’d 63 per cent of his opponents, while Pacquiao has been stopped three times in his career.
The 10/1 for Broner to win in rounds 7-12 could be worth a dabble.
So long as Manny’s chin holds up, his brand of volume and combination punching should be plenty to rack up the rounds against the posturing Broner. The American is harder to hit and tougher than Matthysse – Pacquiao’s last KO victim – so I don’t see the champ scoring another early victory.
It’s all pointing towards a points win for the Filipino superstar.
But I’m bottling backing a 40-year-old to win by decision at just even money. Father Time may have finally put the breaks on Pacquiao’s speed, Broner could stun ‘Pac’ with his accuracy, or ‘AB’ could shock everybody with new levels of endurance.
Bet of the bout: Take the draw at 20/1.
They might not be big names – or big guys – but bantam weights Warren and Oubaali could put on the best show of the night. It’s going to be fast and furious, and there’s a history between these two that adds a touch of spice.
Back in 2012, at the London Olympics, Oubaali edged Warren by a score of 19-18 over three tight rounds. The Frenchman didn’t end up with a medal but he’s on the verge of getting a professional trinket if he can extended his unbeaten record this Saturday.
Warren has already won and lost titles as a pro but, despite his experience advantage, he’s a big underdog in this one. Warren has gassed in some contests, while Oubaali has shown power late on. It’s too close to call for me so I’m on the fence again.
Bet of the bout: Draw at 20/1.
Heading-up the non-title action is the scrap between Jack and Browne, and with four different champions in the light heavyweight division not keen on facing one another, the winner is almost guaranteed a crack at someone’s crown in 2019.
Jack is the two weight champ coming off six back-to-back world level fights, but for Browne this is his first step up to the big leagues. The American has been dropped a couple of times in his career and his team may have chosen Jack because he’s not a renowned banger.
What really makes me suspicious of Browne’s ability is that after a successful amateur career he’s been in the slow lane for over six years.
As long as Jack doesn’t get caught cold, I see him walking through Browne – much like he did to Brit Nathan Cleverly.
Bet of the bout: Jack by KO at 16/5.
FRIDAY NIGHT IN NEW YORK
Eddie Hearn is using the small hall at Madison Square Garden this Friday as a sort of glamorous sparring exhibition for some of his Matchroom USA roster.
Super Bantamweight boss TJ Doheny makes his American debut on short notice and he can backed at 13/8 to win on the judges’ cards against Japanese contender Ryohei Takahashi.
Middleweight champ Demetrius Andrade is defending his title for the first time and should make light work of challenger Artur Akavov. The Russian went 12 rounds with an unfit Billy Joe Saunders but I like the 10/3 for Andrade to win in rounds 1-6.
Warming up the weekend’s action is former pound-for-pound star Jorge Linares. The Venezuelan has got a tough, experienced opponent but 6/1 for Linares to get the job done in rounds 3-4 is a great punt.