With fire in his eyes
LAS VEGAS—With the power of God in his hands and fire in his eyes, Manny Pacquiao sets out to defend his WBA welterweight title against Adrien Broner on Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila) at MGM Grand Arena here.
There has been speculation as to what the Filipino senator’s motivation is, with many pointing that he is auditioning for another rich bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Others say he is polishing a career that is bound for the Hall of Fame.
But the sport’s sole eight-division champion has made it clear: At 40, Pacquiao said he would prove that he could still fight like he did 10 years ago when he was crushing it at every level.
“I still have that killer instinct and the fire in my eyes is still there,” Pacquiao said. “That aggressiveness, the interest in this career is still there 100 percent. The speed and the power are still there.”
In his prime, he scored thrilling stoppages over some of the sport’s biggest names like Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. He is the only boxer to have won championship belts in eight weight classes.
He said he would climb the ring against an imperfect Mayweather clone with Divine guidance: “In my hands is the power from God,” Pacquiao said.
And his trainer wants Pacquiao, a devout Christian, to turn his fists into fire and brimstone and make Broner taste the wrath of God.
“When you find a chance, go for it, don’t show mercy and forget that you’re a Christian for several minutes,” said long-time pal and now corner chief Buboy Fernandez.
Mayweather’s shadow looms large over this duel. The undefeated American defeated Pacquiao in 2015, an underwhelming bout described as the richest fight in boxing history having reportedly generated $600 million.
Mayweather fired up talk of a rematch when he announced last September that he was willing to come out of retirement and fight his Filipino rival once again.
Broner, 29, finds his being cast aside in the fight narrative unacceptable.
In response, the flashy part-time rapper said he would knock out the Filipino boxing legend, turn the Vegas strip “into one big block party and then invite Manny for a drink.”
“It’s a hell of opportunity man … like I said before I’m not doing this for myself; I’m doing this (expletive) for the hood,” Broner said after making the weight on Friday.
“After I win tomorrow night, I will be a legend overnight.”
Broner, the youngest fighter to have won title in four weight divisions, possesses a sturdy chin. He has never been knocked out before.
But Pacquiao said he definitely would go for a KO, having remembered how good it felt to stop Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur last July.
“It’s nothing personal. But I will chase him inside the ring. Where he goes, I follow,” said Pacquiao.
Broner has lost all three of his biggest fights and this encounter with Pacquiao is hands down even bigger than those combined.
He reportedly signed a five-fight, $50-million deal with Premier Boxing Champions which only becomes binding if he defeats Pacquiao. For this fight, he will reportedly get $2.5 million plus a share of the revenue.
Broner is criticized for throwing too few punches. But he moves around the ring well and has been described by experts as a “poor man’s Mayweather.”
But he allowed himself to be devoured by the trappings of boxing’s spotlight and his career went south after losing to Mikey Garcia and drawing Jessie Vargas in his two previous fights.
Vargas lost to Pacquiao via unanimous decision when the Filipino global superstar last fought in the United States more than two years ago.
Pacquiao’s career also lost its sheen after he failed to score a knockout win for nine years. In that span, he got knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and then lost a decision to Jeff Horn in 2017 in Brisbane.
But the knockout win over Matthysse gave his career another highlight and, with Mayweather in retirement, once again made him the most important man in all of boxing.
Pacquiao could reportedly earn $20 million from this bout.
For #PacBroner updates, visit The Pacquiao Files.
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