Philippines, 19 Aug 2019
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Broner’s durability to be tested

LAS VEGAS. How durable is Adrien Broner? He’s never been knocked out in his career and only one man has sent him down for the mandatory eight-count. Marcos Maidana used a left hook to the jaw to deck Broner twice in their brawl in 2013.

But this morning (Manila time), Broner’s heart, chin, jaw and manhood will be tested when he goes up against WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao in a scheduled 12-round bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here. It’s the biggest fight ever for Broner and he insists he’ll be a legend overnight if or when Pacquiao goes down.

Broner will be paid at least $5 Million for facing Pacquiao. He’s had paychecks of $1 Million or more in five previous fights but never more than $1.5 Million so this is a windfall for the Cincinnati kid. It’s his chance to redeem himself from being classified as one of boxing’s bad boys. Broner’s been charged with robbery, assault, illegal possession of a lethal weapon, witness intimidation, domestic violence and showing up late and drunk for a court hearing. He’s called the Problem because more than being a problem to others, he’s a problem to himself.

You’ll never know what to expect from Broner in the ring. No doubt, he’s a skilled fighter but his mental stability is questionable. He’s won the WBO super featherweight, WBC lightweight, WBA super lightweight and WBC welterweight titles, meaning he’s good for something. But his history as a champion has not been an inspiration. He lost the super featherweight title on the scales in his second defense, relinquished the lightweight throne after one defense, was stripped of the super lightweight crown for failing to make weight and surrendered the welterweight belt in his first defense. The inability to hold on to a title for long is a clear indication of a lack of discipline, particularly as he lost two world titles on the scales.

Boxing News editor Matt Christie described Broner as “the master of the unexpected … a gifted boxer-puncher.” I call him the poor man’s Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a shadow of the man he tries to copy in the ring. Broner has his version of Mayweather’s shoulder-roll and prefers to fight from long distance than engage. He’s vulnerable to the left hook, as Maidana showed, and if Pacquiao lands that blow squarely, someone’s headed to the canvas.

When Broner went down for the first knockdown in the second round of the Maidana fight, it didn’t look like he could go on. He got up on rubbery legs and was visibly wobbly. To his credit, he withstood the attack and survived. In the eighth, another left hook to the jaw toppled Broner. But he got a friendly reprieve when Maidana was deducted a point for butting and action was stopped for over a minute. Broner overacted in faking he was badly hurt by the butt and rolled over on the ground. That gave him a chance to clear the cobwebs in his head and Broner finished the fight on his feet.

Against Shawn Porter in 2015, Broner repeatedly clinched, locked arms and ducked low. He grabbed and tried to overpower Porter with his bullying tactics. In the 12th round, Broner floored Porter with a left hook from nowhere but it wasn’t enough to steal the decision. The fight showed that Broner can fight dirty if he has to and can be dangerous if his opponent gets careless.

If Broner employs dirty tactics, referee Russell Mora is likely to tolerate the shenanigans. Mora is a let-go kind of a referee and extremely tolerant of rough-housers. Joseph Agbeko and Gerry Penalosa can attest to Mora’s reputation because they were in fights where he was the referee and they were unfairly roughed up with low blows and headbutts.

If Mora does a Mark Nelson on Pacquiao, there could be trouble. Nelson was the referee who allowed Jeff Horn to elbow, butt, hold and manhandle Pacquiao in Brisbane in 2017. Las Vegas, however, isn’t Brisbane and there will be a major howl of protest from all quarters if Mora won’t stop Broner from executing his bad intentions.

Pacquiao said he wants to prove that at 40, he can still fight at a high level. Bernard Hopkins, Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes and Sugar Ray Robinson all fought beyond 40 and former WBC superlightweight champion Saoul Mamby didn’t quit boxing until he was 60. As Pacquiao often says, age, to him, is just a number.

How the fight will end is anybody’s guess. Pacquiao is a huge favorite to win. He’ll be dominant, quicker and stronger. But Broner is likely to survive 12 rounds.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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