By Lem Satterfield
Four-division champion Adrien Broner believes he will earn his seventh victory without a loss against left-handers opposite WBA “regular” champion Manny Pacquiao on January 19 at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Showtime Pay-Per-View, but former two-division champion Paulie Malignaggi isn’t quite so sure.
“It’s a very tricky fight. One question with Broner is always about punch output and ‘Is he going to get his shots off?” said Malignaggi, whose split-decision loss to Broner (June 2013) cost “The Magic Man” his WBA own welterweight crown.
“Broner’s had trouble with guys who know how to control range. I think Pacquiao’s become known as that kind of fighter, stepping in and out very well. But Pacquiao just turned 40 years old [last month,] so a lot depends on how much of his legs Pacquiao has left.”
Malignaggi is offering his mini-previews to BoxingScene.com of the next four months of successive 147-pound appearances by Pacquiao against Broner, Keith Thurman-Josesito Lopez (January 26), Shawn Porter-Yordenis Ugas (March 9), Errol Spence-Mikey Garcia (March 16), Terence Crawford-Amir Khan (April 20), and, Danny Garcia-Adrian Granados (April 20).
The 29-year-old Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) has vowed “to do what I always do to southpaws and dismantle” Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), saying “The Pac Man” has “been knocked out three times,” and “can go out and go to sleep.”
“I feel like he can’t beat me,” said Broner, who is 6-0 with five knockouts against southpaws. “Look at my resume – what do I do to southpaws? I stop them. Going into this fight, I’m very confident.”
Broner looks to do what Rustico Torecampo (February 1996), Boonsai Singurat (September 1999) and four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez (December 2012) did in finishing Pacquiao.
Pacquiao was 11-0 (four KOs) when Torecampo stopped him in the third round of a 112-pound bout, and 26-1 (17 KOs) when a third-round KO loss to Singurat cost him his 112-pound WBC flyweight title.
Marquez had swapped knockdowns with Pacquiao before flattening his archrival with a straight right hand counter in the sixth round. Pacquiao walked into the punch, which left him face-first on the canvas near the ropes and his own corner.
“Timing beats speed, and everybody knows I got great timing. This is just a good time for Adrien Broner and Pacquiao to fight. I’m ready physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Broner during a recent interview with Fighthype.com.
“I’m ready to go in there and let it all hang out. In a fight like this, it’s proven that you don’t have to throw a lot of punches to beat Manny Pacquiao. ‘I may only have to throw one, and that motherf***** will go to sleep. He been asleep before.”
Broner’s list of vanquished left-handers includes eighth- and 12th-round TKOs of Antonio DeMarco (November 2012) and Khabib Allakhverdiev (October 2015) at 135- and 140-pounds for his second- and fourth crowns.
There was also a unanimous decision over former titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (March 2011) and stoppages in the second, fourth and sixth rounds over Guillermo Sanchez (September 2010), Robert Acevedo (January 2010) and Carlos Claudio (June 2010).
The first man to stop the tough Russian two-time title challenger Allakhverdiev, Broner ended a 32-month knockout drought, his previous stoppage being a fifth-round TKO of 135-pound Gavin Rees in February 2013. Broner dethroned DeMarco and earned a vacant WBA crown against Allakhverdiev, his fourth in as many divisions.
But after Allakhverdiev, Broner lost his 140-pound title at the scales prior to his next fight in April 2016, a ninth-round TKO of Ashley Theophane. He then won a split-decision over former sparring partner Adrian Granados in a 146 ½-pound bout in February 2017.
After losing to unbeaten four-division champion Mikey Garcia in July 2017 by unanimous decision in a 140-pound non-title bout, Broner brought in trainer Kevin Cunningham to run his camp while also continuing to work with longtime corner man, Mike Stafford.
The result was an action-packed, crowd-pleasing, 144-pound draw in April with two-division champion Jessie Vargas, loser by one-knockdown unanimous decision to Pacquiao in November 2016.
“Broner falls into lulls when he’s not throwing punches, and he sometimes he has problems punching himself into range, like with Ponce de Leon and Jessie Vargas,” said Malignaggi. “But Pacquiao turned pro when Broner was five years old, and he’s had a lot of professional fights, so we’ll have to see if the Pacquiao’s turns old in this fight.”
Pacquiao is defending the crown he won in July by three-knockdown, seventh-round TKO against former champion Lucas Matthysse, representing his first knockout victory since November 2009, when he twice floored Miguel Cotto to become WBA/WBC 147-pound champion.
Matthysse was a rebound from Pacquiao’s unanimous decision loss in Australia to Jeff Horn, who dethroned him as WBO champion in July 2017.
“I am not making a prediction, but my goal is to knock out Broner. I am looking for a knockout against Broner. I have to maximize the opportunity,” said Pacquiao. “I forgot how much fun winning a fight by knockout was until I stopped Lucas Matthysse last summer to win the WBA welterweight title.”
Will the Pacquiao versus Broner be the one who starched Matthysse?
“Against Matthysse, Pacquiao’s legs seem to be there a little bit, but I don’t know, so that’s the question of the fight,” said Malignaggi.
“If it’s a fight where Pacquiao’s legs are not cooperating and Broner’s finding his range, it could be a dynamic performance by Adrien Broner. But I’m gonna go with Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision.”