As far as creative matchmaking goes on the pay-per-view level, Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner fight offers an intriguing equation to fans who are considering buying it.
A fight game veteran with over 20 years of experience as a manager, promoter and adviser, Kahn has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on inside and outside the ring. He can be heard weekly as co-host of “The Fight Guys” podcast on the SB Nation Radio Network.
This is the same expert who called Shawn Porter upsetting Danny Garcia in September, which paid +140 on the money line, and called the GGG vs. Canelo draw. Now he’s dialed in on Pacquiao-Broner and just locked in his top boxing picks. You can only see them at SportsLine.
For Saturday’s showdown in Las Vegas, Kahn knows that one of Pacquiao’s big advantages will be his ability to use his quickness to outflank the more defensive Broner. He’ll piece together combinations that score big with judges, which Kahn thinks could put Broner in constant jeopardy.
“Pacquiao is going to come forward, press the action, and keep Broner on the defensive by using his speed and combination punching,” Kahn told SportsLine.
Throughout his career, Pacquiao has evolved, moving from knockout artist to crafty veteran. The question is how well he’ll fare against a much younger fighter like Broner, who’s an impressive 33-3 with one draw in his career and has a lethal combination of power and speed. “Broner is successful when he can make his opponents miss and use his long left hook to land at will,” Kahn said.
Now Kahn has scouted Broner vs. Pacquiao from every angle and locked in his best bets. We can tell you he likes the fight to go all 12 rounds, but his bigger play is on the winner. He’s identified the critical x-factor that makes one fighter a must-back. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.
On the flip side, Broner has been his worst enemy outside of the ring and still has youth and an incredible amount of talent on his side should you believe, despite a bevy of legal troubles during training camp, that this is finally the time he takes his career seriously in the biggest fight of his career.
As is typically the case, Broner has said all the right things head of his first PPV headlining role.
“Growing up and seeing Pacquiao fight, of course I always wanted to fight him,” Broner said. “I’m a competitor. One day I want to be the best, and to be the best you have to beat the best. It starts here.
“This is my first PPV but I was always supposed to be here. God doesn’t make mistakes. After this victory, I will be taking over the sport of boxing. This is just the beginning.”
FAVORITE UNDERDOG WEIGHTCLASS
Manny Pacquiao (c) -300
Adrien Broner +230
WBA “regular” welterweight title
Badou Jack -185
Marcus Browne +150
WBC silver light heavyweight title
Nordine Oubaali -450
Rau’shee Warren +325
WBC bantamweight title
Jhack Tepora -800
Hugo Ruiz +500
Interim WBA featherweight title
Pacquiao, who enters his 24th year as a pro fighter, has looked tremendous physically in camp despite turning 40 in December. Mentally, he has sounded just as strong and engaged despite a constantly busy lifestyle which sees him serve full-time as a senator in his native Philippines.
“My journey in this sport is still continuing,” Pacquiao said. “I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to but I also want to continue to keep my name at the top. Even at 40, I can still show the best of Manny Pacquiao. I’m going to give the fans the speed and power that they’re used to seeing.”
A big subplot to the narrative entering this fight has been the return of longtime trainer Freddie Roach to Pacquiao’s corner after the Filipino star cut ties with his Hall of Fame mentor after Pacquiao’s disputed 2017 loss to Jeff Horn, which Roach suggested after the fight that he retire.
“Manny and I have been together 15 years, so I had no reason to ever be mad at Manny,” said Roach, who will join Pacquiao’s long-time friend and cornerman Buboy Fernandes as co-trainer. “Everything has worked out really well and we’re working together as a team right now.
“Pacquiao and I have a deal. Once his work ethic drops, I’m going to tell him and he has agreed he’ll retire. His work ethic is unbelievable right now. He hasn’t slowed down at all. He hit me with a shot in the chest two or three days ago, and I’ve never been hit harder in my life.”
Broner has made multiple references to Pacquiao’s one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their 2012 fourth meeting and believes he can do the same with the right counter punch.
“[Pacquiao’s] last fight, he did stop Matthysse, so I’m pretty sure he still has power,” Broner said. “But I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be ready for whatever he brings to the table. We’re in shape to get it done, I can tell you that.
“This win makes me an icon. 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.”
For as quick as we are to count Broner out considering his history of coming up short against elite fighters, his intangibles of toughness and a strong chin can’t be overlooked. Because of that, expect him to be in this fight for all 12 rounds, with a legitimate chance at victory despite entering as the betting underdog.
The odds of Broner doing just that, however, come down to the same question he has faced routinely ever since he first made the move up to 140 pounds: Will he throw enough punches to give himself a fighting chance?
Broner continues to be the last to know that his power hasn’t quite carried above 135 pounds the same way that his fighting style and swagger suggests. Instead of working behind his jab and using his natural athleticism to set up his power shots, Broner has too predictably fallen in love with standing in the pocket and looking to counter.
It’s a style that has become a very lazy one for Broner and only works when his size or speed advantage is great. Against elite fighters, it simply leaves him vulnerable on the scorecards when his two or three clean punches per round simply aren’t enough to earn the nod over an opponent who works the full three minutes.
Against this version of Pacquiao, Broner would be wise to try and lure his aging opponent into a game of high-speed chess. Not only might Broner mirror Horn’s gameplan of tiring Pacquiao out by making him fight the entire round, the “PacMan” can occasionally become reckless when lured into an action fight.
Should Broner, instead, try to mirror Marquez as the counter puncher and spend the whole fight banking on one big punch that might never come, this could turn into the kind of virtual sparring match that Pacquiao would be more than happy to control by using his footwork to box from distance as the aggressor.
Ultimately, the equation is simple: If the very best of Broner finally shows up, not only will we see a fun fight but it will be one he can very much win as the younger fighter. But that’s a notion we’ve said before just about every big fight Broner has accepted, with the same Groundhog Day result simply resetting the narrative each time.
If Broner gives Pacquiao the chance to outwork him, Pacquiao will do just that before moving on to bigger business ahead