Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Thoughts On Pacquiao-Broner

The encounter between former world champions Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner gave all the appearance of a stylistic chess match. In previewing this fight, yours truly stated that this figured to be a tactical encounter between an offensive-minded fighter with the ability to use lateral movement to throw punches from every conceivable angle against a defensive-minded fighter, who was known for his ability to counter punch. The idea of how this fight would be fought that yours truly had was exactly what transpired when Pacquiao and Broner squared off on January 19th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

For twelve rounds, the offensive-minded fighter in Pacquiao out worked and out boxed the defensive-minded Broner to earn a convincing twelve round unanimous decision. For those who have followed my work through the years, you know that I usually like to provide a more thorough analysis of what goes on in a fight. This time however, I feel it is more appropriate to describe things in short-form.

In short, the tactical Boxing match that Pacquiao and Broner fought can best be summed up as one fighter, Pacquiao generally throwing punches in three and four punch combinations and keeping his opponent Broner on the defensive. Although Broner would periodically land solid counter punches throughout the twelve round bout, the former four-division world champion simply did not engage in enough offense consistently to win the fight as I scored the bout eleven rounds to one or 118-109 in favor of Pacquiao.

Sometimes even a technical fight between two world-class boxers can be summed up in the simplest of terms. A lopsided contest where one fighter simply bested the other. Unlike some “Big” or “Major” fights in the sport where the recurring theme afterward usually involves some element of “Controversy”, this was not one of those events. At least, not in terms of what one would think of as a “Legitimate Controversy.”

While this observer does not want to spend too much time discussing this element of what I felt was an otherwise one-sided fight and a solid performance by future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, what cannot and should not be ignored is the accusation that was made after the fight. An accusation Broner made following his decision loss of a “Robbery” citing that he had beaten Pacquiao and eluded to the possibility that the scoring was influenced by the potential of a rematch between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, which may or may not happen later this year.

Although one can understand a fighter or for that matter any athlete’s disappointment following a loss, I commented following the fight across social media platforms that I found Broner’s conduct after the decision was announced, particularly in his post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray as “Disgusting” and shared my view that it was a clear win for Pacquiao and felt that the scoring was “Appropriate.” The latter regarding scoring is a consistent topic for anyone who covers the sport and/or Combat Sports in general and the term “Appropriate” is not always used to describe the scoring of fights.  Even though it is understandable that one would take a loss hard, particularly a loss that came on a relatively big stage, I felt Broner’s conduct, which included expletives, in the interview conducted by Gray was “Inappropriate” and frankly “Classless.”

The twenty-nine year old Broner has won four world championships in four different weight classes. While some might be tempted to describe his career as too much, too soon, I won’t do that. Many great fighters throughout the history of the sport have gone through ups and downs in terms of wins and losses. Perhaps after having some time to reflect on what happened in the fight, Broner will be able to figure out what went wrong and be able to adapt in future fights. From my perspective, I mentioned in previewing this fight that the key for Broner would be to find a balance between not negating his defensive style, while also allowing himself to establish a consistent offensive rhythm as to not allow himself to be out worked over the course of the fight. A task that yours truly said could be easier said than done, proved to be just that.  According CompuBox statistics, in twelve rounds Pacquiao out landed Broner 112 of 568 for 20% total punches thrown compared to Broner’s 50 of 295 for 17%.

A routine point of contention among some fans and even at times those of us who cover the sport is that there are times where final punch statistics compiled by CompuBox do not always serve as an accurate illustration of what goes on in a fight. There are times however, particularly in a clear fight such as this where the statistics are “Spot On” as to what went on inside the ring. The more telling statistics beyond the final punch stats when one views the statistics round by round is the fact that Broner failed to land a double-digit number of punches in any of the twelve rounds and only averaged between one to seven landed punches per round. Broner’s most active round and the round I felt he won was in round four where in the only round of the fight he out landed Pacquiao he was able to land 7 of 20 punches compared to Pacquiao’s 4 of 11. Simply put, unless a fighter is scoring knockdowns with single punches, it is almost impossible to win a decision on the scorecards. Bottom line, you cannot win rounds unless you actively throw and land punches consistently.

While some are likely of the opinion that the potential rematch between Pacquiao and Mayweather will be what’s next for Manny Pacquiao, as is the norm after fights, this observer feels there are other options that could be available to Pacquiao going forward.  Pacquiao, who with his win over Broner retained his interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Welterweight rankings would be an ideal option for the winner of the January 26th WBA World Welterweight championship fight between undefeated champion Keith Thurman and longtime contender Josesito Lopez. Pacquiao could also be a potential opponent for the winner of the upcoming IBF Welterweight world championship fight between undefeated champion Errol Spence and undefeated three-division world champion Mikey Garcia, who is moving up in weight to challenge Spence.

Either option may indeed be more viable for the forty year old Pacquiao than a rematch with the currently retired forty-two year old Mayweather. Although Pacquiao would probably be considered an underdog against either winner of those fights based on age if nothing else, a potential fight against either winner could be more well received than a rematch of an encounter with Mayweather that failed to live up to expectations.

While the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight drew over 4.4 million pay-per-view buys at $100, the concept of pay-per-view has changed significantly since that fight in 2015. If one were to also take into the equation that Showtime, HBO, and Mayweather and Pacquiao themselves faced litigation from disgruntled fans following that event, it is hard to envision the public being willing to pay that kind of fee again especially when one considers the rise of subscription-based streaming options that have entered the sports landscape and have served to fill the void left by HBO, who is no longer involved in the sport. With the concept of pay-per-view changing and with rare exceptions buy rates continuing to underperform, it is time for those who continue to rely on the overpriced and undervalued model of pay-per-view to think of an alternative. Perhaps the alternative would be more well received by the public than asking that same public to pay what will likely be an even more expensive fee than the $100 Mayweather-Pacquiao event to see a rematch that no matter what happens will likely fail to live up to expectations.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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