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List of Articles by Christopher Cruz



Can Pacquiao Still Solve A “Problem” Like He Used To?

By Christopher Cruz
PhilBoxing.com
30 Nov 2018



Most boxers, no matter how gifted, almost always overstay their welcome in the sport. Even the undisputed greatest boxer in history—bar none—Sugar Ray Robinson, fell prey to this situation. It is a situation, more a kind of affliction, that subjects even legends to a less-than-graceful exit from the most brutal sport on earth.

From the most honorable reasons like the desire to summon the last remaining vestiges of glory in their ageing bodies, to the most mundane and somewhat insulting such as yes, the dire need for money—an overstaying boxer in his waning years need a final, unquestionable confirmation that it is indeed time to go, to move on, and hang up those gloves regardless if he is ready or not.

This final confirmation is usually a painful, one-sided and horrific beating at the hands of an adversary who as they say, would not have even been worthy to carry the overstayer’s jockstrap in his prime years. Only after suffering such an undeniable reality check would the final curtain really fall on the boxer.

Filipino boxing icon and Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao is a curious case of a currently active boxer who at 39, is still fighting near, if some may say no longer exactly at, the top levels of the sport. With a scheduled dustup against the problematic Adrian “The Problem” Broner in January of 2019, he is in perfect position to once again lay his claim to the more legitimate welterweight championship belts.

As it stands now, he holds the WBA “Regular” welterweight belt he lifted from Lucas Matthyse via an electrifying knockout performance that reminded the boxing world of just how formidable he really was in his peak. Almost ten years removed from his generally considered peak performances, Manny summoned just enough greatness to take care of business against another ageing warrior, and thereat fueled a new round of raised expectations.

The WBA is one of the more legitimate sanctioning bodies among boxing’s hilarious cottage industry of alphabet groups, the others being the WBC, IBF and the most recent, WBO. However, Manny’s WBA “Regular Champion” trinket is not the version that is considered the true welterweight championship title in the WBA’s ranking: it is the “Super Champion” belt currently held by the still-recuperating-from-surgery Keith “One Time” Thurman.

The other so-called legitimate welterweight champions are WBC champion Shawn Porter, IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr., and WBO beltholder Terence Crawford. Should Pacquiao give another dominant performance against Broner in January, he will put himself back in the mix with these champions, not to mention the more lucrative possible rematch with the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr.


Manny Pacquiao does the mitts with trainer Buboy Fernandez at the Elorde Gym in Pasay City Thursday, Nov. 29 ahead of his upcoming fight against Adrien Broner of the United States on Jan. 19 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Photo by Wendell Alinea.

But Pacquiao having a dominant showing against Broner is far from a certainty. Aside from the obvious physical decline in Manny’s form, Broner is anything but an easy walkover opponent. He may not be the same fighter who showed so much promise early in his career after the humiliating loss to Marcos Maidana that also saw him get knocked down twice, but he showed he can still be a handful for anybody and it would take a special guy to pull a win off in losing performances against Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia, and a majority draw against Jessie Vargas. He also showed he could still be dangerous even in the late rounds, knocking down Porter for the first time in Shawn’s career in the 12th round.

This display of dangerous punching power from Broner should not be underestimated, even in the face of his recent loss against weight-climbing Mikey Garcia who seemed to absorb Broner’s power without problems. Shawn Porter may not be a tall guy but he is a thick, tough dude who has fought super middleweights early in his pro career and he has never been dropped by anybody else not named Broner.

Not even Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Danny “Swift” Garcia, all at the top of the welterweight mix at the time they fought, were able to drop Porter. All of which makes Broner’s feat all the more impressive, and frankly serves as intriguing evidence of respectable punching power.

Which is not to say that Pacquiao has never seen scary punching power from across that ring. Dela Hoya, emaciated as he was in their welterweight match, would have probably decapitated Manny had he connected on one of his vicious left hooks that night. Even Mosley while admittedly slowed down by age and with a fighting spirit that was already dampened by eroding skills, still possessed the kind of punching power that likely surpasses Broner’s, when he faced off with Pacquiao.

The thing is, the Pacquiao of today is not the Pacquiao that stared down that kind of scary punching power. He is not even the Pacquiao of six years ago that rose like a virtual phoenix from the ashes of a nuclear right hand unleashed by nemesis Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez in a stunning knockout loss in 2012.

Will Pacquiao’s seemingly rejuvenated fighting spirit be enough to address questions that Broner’s skill set will be asking inside that squared ring? Can he do in his current 39-year old form what Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Marcos Maidana have already done?

Or will this fight serve as some kind of confirmation, an undeniable sign, that the curtain should finally fall on one of boxing’s true greats, whose career we are all just so fortunate to have witnessed unfold before our very own eyes?


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