It’s the big showdown in Vegas tonight, Pac vs Broner, but don’t be fooled fight fans. What it’s really all about is Floyd “Money” Mayweather. That’s right, people; we’re in a time warp and it’s 2010 again with the drums beating loud for a Pacquiao vs Mayweather showdown. Don’t believe me? Well, look around and see which way the wind is blowing. Manny and Broner are in Vegas. But so is Floyd.
When I heard that a “Pacman” vs “Problem” duel was actually on, my first reaction was, “Why?” In so many ways it just seemed an unlikely and unnecessary match-up. I guess some significance comes from the fact this is Manny’s first bout as a Showtime-Al Haymon fighter. Otherwise, it looks to me like one boxer is marking time as he waits for a possible mega-payday, while the other is searching for a way to stay relevant. Does anyone doubt as to which is which?
Manny Pacquiao is the draw here, no disrespect to Broner. Sure, Pac’s an aging warrior who probably should hang ‘em up, but “The Fighting Senator” still wants to fight. So, who am I to begrudge him trying to cash in while he still can? Besides, some outstanding tax issues with the U.S. government remain to be cleared up and some insiders believe his deal with Haymon, the mysterious man behind Premier Boxing Champions, includes his helping Pacquiao to finally put that behind him.
So that’s one big reason why Pac vs Broner has to happen. The other is what might come after. Because when you consider the fact that Manny has no intention of hanging up the gloves anytime soon, and with Floyd in the news not long ago for that bizarre spectacle in Japan, it looks to me like Mayweather vs Pacquiao II is becoming more and more likely. So that’s the second reason, a chance for Pacquiao to build on his win over a faded Lucas Matthysse and make a case for another huge money showdown against Floyd. Pac vs Broner may be the prelude to another crazy money fight.
That said, the boxer they used to call “Pretty Boy” hasn’t been openly campaigning for the fight. He’s basically playing ‘hard-to-get.’ There’s been talk about a Manny vs Mayweather rematch ever since “The Pacman” humbled Matthysee in July. But after that shameful mismatch with Tenshin Nasukawa, a pointless exhibition not worthy of being called a fight, “Money” is saying he’s finished, as in permanently retired.
But Floyd is a shrewd operator and it’s just as likely that’s posturing designed to stoke interest. No harm in being coy. Fact is, he and Manny were seen talking together at the Charlo brother’s fights in LA a couple of weeks ago; talking about what? Well, Philstar.com out of the Philippines says an anonymous source tells them serious negotiations for MayPac II are already underway, July being the target month. Say what you will, the fact remains that Floyd vs Manny Redux has the potential to outgross its predecessor. We’re talking crazy money again, and, hopefully, the last waltz for both.
But I digress. Fact is, Manny has to get by Broner first. And while I wish the Filipino icon would retire, in fact, I suspect he’ll have a relatively easy time with “The Problem,” even at the advanced age of 40. Manny may have lost a step but he’s still a busy and aggressive fighter and, as Broner has demonstrated on several occasions, an aggressive opponent throwing punches in bunches will cause him to give ground and do a lot of head shaking. While I’m concerned about Manny’s long-term health and wish he would retire, I don’t see much chance of Pac getting tagged by Broner sufficient to really injure him. He’s taken shots off guys much more dangerous than AB and came out okay.
That said, Manny is a big hearted fighter, always willing to mix it up and take some to give some. He’s had a tougher career as a result, with more hard miles on that still spry 5′ 5″ frame and more wars than against greats like Morales, Marquez and Barrera, and taken many more big shots. While Adrien has never been stopped, Pacquiao has been knocked out three times in his seven career defeats, though two of those stoppages go back to the previous century. Still, you can’t dismiss the wear and tear. It’s pretty much unheard of for a guy of Manny’s size to be competing at the top level at his age.
But despite being younger and, presumably, fresher, it’s Broner who is struggling to remain relevant. Plus, compared to Manny he’s just not a likable guy. More to the point, “The Problem” is a self-absorbed narcissist, much like the sitting President of the United States, on a smaller scale but no less delusional. Take his signature moniker from his initials: “About Billions.” No, Adrien, you’re way off. Hell, most people thought you were lucky to get a split nod over Adrian Granados in 2017, so if we count that as a loss, as some do, then you’re 2-3-1 going back to 2015. As Jeremy Melton put it in his excellent column, “Behind The Smile,” you were “humbled” by Maidana, “outworked” by Porter, “outclassed” by Garcia, and lucky to get a draw against Vargas. But somehow you get another big fight, another big payday.
Can you tell I don’t particularly like Mr. “About Billions”? I doubt I’m alone. I think a lot of us fight fans are tired of Broner.
So when all is said and done, I won’t mind one bit watching Manny Pacquiao give “The Problem” a thorough ass-whupping. Actually I see this match as one with the potential to be very entertaining, as it’s one of those situations where a fighter we genuinely like is going up against a guy we don’t. That said, my first reaction to the announced pay-per-view price scaled at $64.99 was that it was a joke. But on second thought, if you’re a Broner hater like me, it might be worth sixty-five bucks to see him get knocked around again. Of course I could just crank up Broner vs Maidana on Youtube and save myself a bunch of cash. After all, I doubt Manny will do the revenge dry-hump move on AB. That never gets old.
Now there’s always a chance, however slim, that Pac might walk into a big punch, as he did against Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2012. Manny was taken to the hospital that night, and rightly so, because he was out cold before he hit the mat. Some neurologists say boxers who are put to sleep like that are more prone to knockouts of the same magnitude, but while 24 KO’s in 33 wins is nothing to scoff at, Broner is not a big puncher. Besides, Pac is on a whole other level compared to the guys AB has stopped, and I just don’t think Broner is hitting that hard. And his tendency, as mentioned, is to stop throwing heavy shots when he’s pressured. It’s no secret this is his “Achilles heel” and I expect Pac to bring it and keep Broner on the defensive.
Pac vs Broner is notable for another reason: Freddie Roach is back in Manny’s corner. The reason he was out for the Matthysse fight seems to be due to his reservations about Pac’s political career. Roach told Manny that politics and boxing wouldn’t work and “The Pacman” didn’t want to hear it. But Freddie said in a recent interview at his Wild Card boxing gym that “the political thing was messing us up. We’d train one day at 10 a.m., the next at 2 am. It didn’t work.” After so much of that, Manny decided to go his own way, which I covered in my July column entitled “Paalam Freddy,” “Paalam” being the word for goodbye in Tagalog. Says Freddie: “He truly wants to help people. The problem is, the other politicians just want to help themselves. I worry about him.”
Freddie’s concerns are well taken. I saw a documentary on Filipino politics which showed the aftermath of an entire family, about 20 people, being gunned down while out campaigning. Obviously political slaughter as a way of life in the Philippines doesn’t frighten Pac. On the contrary, Manny has no intentions of getting out of politics but every intention of someday running for President. But to do that, he needs money. Which means he needs big paydays like what he’ll be making tonight.
So Freddie is back and the other guy who’s back is Floyd Mayweather. Reports are he will be ringside tonight, and no doubt ready to offer up some cryptic comments to keep the hype machine running at a steady hum. And so the biggest payday of them all may still be in the works. Crazy times we live in. For now at least, I’m going to try and put Floyd out of my mind and just enjoy the fight tonight. I look forward to the ass-whuppin’ Manny’s gonna lay on Mr. “About Billions.” — Ralph M. Semien