Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Manny Pacquiao's impressive win over Adrien Broner leads to inevitable talk of rematch with Floyd Mayweather

Filipino successfully defends WBA welterweight title by a wide points margin and in front of the unbeaten American sitting ringside

Floyd Mayweather Jr sat ringside and slipped and slid the question as if he was evading blows on the other side of the ropes.

Inside, Manny Pacquiao marked his return to big-time boxing in the United States with a dominant display against Adrien Broner.

Pacquiao’s first fight since he ticked past his 40th birthday produced enough to corroborate the Filipino’s pre-bout chatter: for the moment, at least, age appears just a number.

The figures from Sunday morning’s main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas reinforced the refrain. In Pacquiao’s 70th professional fight, close to a quarter of a century after his introduction to the paid ranks, he outworked and outfought Broner, a man almost 12 years his junior, a four-division world champion, a guy intent on proving a point, too.

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Manny Pacquiao “Beyond the Ropes” series

Part 1: A man who gives hope to the Philippines

Part 2: Turning 40 and no signs of slowing

Part 3: The final chapter - Broner, Mayweather and the fear of going on for too long

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In the end, Broner did little to beat back those gnawing doubts that have plagued a career that promised much, but after an early boom, is in danger of burning out.

Pacquiao threw 598 punches to Broner’s 295. He worked well the body, jabbed expertly through the trunk of the bout. In Rounds 7 and 9, he rocked Broner. First, a left cross sent the American retreating to the ropes and, as Pacquiao unleashed a trademark flurry of combinations, his opponent held on for dear life.

In the ninth, a huge left hand caught Broner flush and scrambled his balance. To his credit, he did not tumble and, when he emerged from this deserved unanimous-decision defeat, his record of having never been stopped remained intact.

All that remained was for the ring interviewer to put to Pacquiao what everybody gathered there and watching on television wished to know: will this pave the way to a rematch with Mayweather?

“Tell him to come back to the ring and we’ll fight,” said Pacquiao, as the MGM Grand erupted. “I’m willing to fight Floyd Mayweather again, if he’s willing to fight.”

Implored to react ringside, with the camera centred and the public craving a response, Mayweather simply did nothing. Earlier, he ducked and dodged the same query.

And so it begins, Round Whatever of the posturing and the parrying. We have been here before, for way too long and when it was almost too late. Nearly four years on from their first meet, after Mayweather protected his unblemished CV like cradling a newborn and Pacquiao departed beaten on points, the clamour will summon again.

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Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao has met the question head on. Injured before the 2015 fight – the sport's most lucrative to date – he longs for a shot at settling a score. He can bite down on that now he is beyond Broner, a comprehensive victory if not the emphatic finish Pacquiao desired.

A return to the ring has been pencilled for May or June, whenever fits best with a schedule swollen by his life in the Philippine Senate. Crucially, as his careful conquering of Broner portrayed, Pacquiao is listening to both his team and his body. He sought to knock out his rival, to follow on from July’s TKO against Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia, the stoppage that halted an eight-and-a-half-year stretch. But, on advice from his corner, he relented.

It is approach that should serve Pacquiao well as he takes the initial steps in what his team have labelled “the final chapter” to one of boxing’s bona fide superstar turns.

Pacquiao’s recent contract with Premier Boxing Champions promises much in a 147-division that teems with talent. Undoubtedly, an Errol Spence Jr, a Shawn Porter, or a Keith Thurman would offer a stiffer test than Broner.

But, for now, the Mayweather merry-go-round is set in motion. It hardly represents the clash boxing yearned for through each fighter's peak years, back when Pacquiao picked off greats like arguably no other in history. He is now a month on from his 40th birthday; Mayweather turns 42 in less than five weeks and maintains he has officially retired.

Yet, undeniably, Mayweather-Pacquiao II would still sell. With Broner beaten, one of what’s sure to be many obstacles has been cleared.

Updated: January 20, 2019 05:22 PM

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