By David Greisman
Manny Pacquiao Defeats Adrien Broner, Talk Turns to Mayweather Rematch
Even before Manny Pacquiao fought Adrien Broner on pay-per-view on Saturday night, everyone was talking about whether Pacquiao would go on to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a rematch of their big-money 2015 mega-fight.
Even if Pacquiao and Mayweather don’t wind up meeting again, Pacquiao’s victory over Broner opens up the doors to other notable fights. They won’t be anywhere near as big as a second bout against one of the best of all time, but they’ll be important matches against some of the top welterweights of today.
Pacquiao at 40 is of course a lesser version of the dynamo who steamrolled through the sport a decade ago. But he’s still a formidable fighter, with decent hand speed and power, plus underrated defense.
He won the first two rounds against Broner largely based on activity. Broner didn’t throw often, instead looking to land counter left hooks and right hands. That made some sense. Pacquiao was knocked unconscious by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 thanks to a perfect counter. The problem with Broner’s approach, though, is that he didn’t land anything that hurt Pacquiao anywhere near as much. He didn’t throw often enough. And in doing so, he barely gave himself a chance to win.
The third round clearly belonged to Pacquiao. Broner had a better fourth, giving his trainer reason to believe they had Pacquiao where they wanted.
“You got him hesitant like we planned on,” Broner as told. “You gotta jump on him now.”
Instead it was Pacquiao who was leading with the offense, and building a lead because of it. He wasn’t overwhelming or overpowering Broner the way he did against fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera or Erik Morales or Miguel Cotto. He still had enough pop to rock Broner in the seventh round with a pair of left hands, sending Broner to the ropes and leaving Broner holding on to rest and recover.
Broner should’ve responded with fire. That didn’t really happen. He only threw more than 30 punches in a round twice, according to CompuBox.
Yet somehow through 10 rounds, Broner was still in position to come back and score a draw. Two of the judges had Pacquiao in the lead, 96-94.
There was no desperation from Broner’s corner, though, and none from the fighter either. Pacquiao went on to earn the decision. Two judges had it 116-112, or eight rounds to four. The third judge had it slightly wider, 117-111, or nine rounds to three.
Broner proclaimed that he was robbed. He was fooling himself.
“Everybody out there knows I beat him,” Broner said in a post-fight interview. “I controlled the fight. He was missing.”
Indeed, Pacquiao was credited with landing just 112 of 568 punches — a 20 percent connect rate. That’s about nine punches landed per round. Pacquiao was more accurate with his power shots, going 82 of 197, a 42 percent connect rate, landing about seven power shots per round. It was clear that Pacquiao was using his jab to establish range and to distract from the power shots that followed, but that he also was selective with when he used his power so as to not leave himself vulnerable.
Broner threw just 295 shots — about 25 per round, which means he threw fewer than nine punches per minute. He landed only 50 punches in total on the night, about four per round.
That’s a similar theme in Broner’s recent defeats. He tends to not put himself in position to throw punches, and even when he’s in position, he doesn’t necessarily let his hands go.
Broner is now 33-4-1 with 24 knockouts. Each defeat has come against a good fighter — Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia and now Pacquiao. But when you include his draw with Jessie Vargas last April, Broner hasn’t won a fight in two years.
He’ll still get another opportunity, though. He’s got enough name recognition, even if he’s been a chronic disappointment. He was well-managed on his way to winning world titles in four weight classes. That’s a thin accomplishment when you look closer at his record. His best wins to this day were against Paulie Malignaggi, who was never one of the best at 147, and Antonio DeMarco, who was in a shallow division at lightweight.
That stellar performance against DeMarco in 2012 feels like forever ago. Broner looked fantastic that night. He has been done in by a lack of discipline, growing into heavier divisions where he no longer had size and height advantages. He still can show flashes of the skills that he has. But they’re rarely more than glimpses. He can beat the second and third tier of opponents. He fails to show up when it matters most.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, improves to 61-7-2 with 39 KOs. This was his second win since a highly controversial loss to Jeff Horn in 2017.
He was asked the obvious question afterward. The Mayweather question has followed him ever since Pacquiao lost in 2015. Pacquiao had called for the rematch before. It’s no surprise that he’s still interested.
“Tell him to come back to the ring and we will fight,” Pacquaio said.
The broadcast then showed Mayweather in the arena. Mayweather didn’t indicate one way or the other whether he wanted the fight. He ostensibly retired in 2015, following up the Pacquiao fight with a swan song victory over Andre Berto. Mayweather returned in 2017 for another huge payday, winning a boxing match against UFC superstar Conor McGregor. And he was back in the ring on New Year’s Eve 2018, winning an easy exhibition boxing match against undersized kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa.
Mayweather is 42 but could still compete at a high level against Pacquiao, especially the 40-year-old version of Pacquiao. He’ll consider his options — and if it makes a lot of money, it’ll make a lot of sense.
There are other interesting fights for Pacquiao. It’d be great to see how he fares against many of these younger 147-pounders, especially now that Pacquiao has signed with Al Haymon and is part of the Premier Boxing Champions stable. That could mean fights against current titleholders like Porter, Errol Spence or Keith Thurman, and former titleholders like Danny Garcia.
Everything will depend on what Mayweather wants. Even in so-called retirement, he remains the straw that stirs the drink.
Demetrius Andrade Beats Akavov, Continues Waiting Game for Big Names
Demetrius Andrade’s stint so far at middleweight is reminiscent of his time at junior middleweight — he has a world title but can’t get fights with big names. And it’s easy to see why.
Andrade is quite skilled. But he’s often not very entertaining. He hits but doesn’t get hit. That’s the idea of the sport. But when you’re clearly so much better than your opponents, fans tend to want to see you beat your opponent up and put him away.
That frustration remained for much of Andrade’s win over Artur Akavov on Friday night — Andrade struck when he wanted to and made Akavov miss most of the rest of the time. The fact that the fight ended as a 12th-round TKO says more about the referee than it does about Andrade.
Andrade spent most of the round jabbing. With about 35 seconds left, Andrade let out a lead right hook. Akavov took it fine and continued to circle along the ropes, but referee Arthur Mercante Jr. bizarrely stopped the fight. Andrade was doubtlessly up big on the scorecards at the time, but Akavov deserved a chance to make it to the final bell.
Andrade is now 27-0 with 17 KOs. Akavov is now 19-3 with 8 KOs.
This was the first defense of Andrade’s title. He was supposed to face Billy Joe Saunders last October. Saunders tested positive for a banned substance, though, and instead Andrade beat Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant belt. Andrade dropped Kautondokwa four times early on in the fight, but he then proceeded to coast to a decision victory rather than go for the stoppage.
Maybe things will be different when Andrade has someone more dangerous in front of him. Unfortunately, the waiting game for big names may continue. Canelo Alvarez is going to fight Daniel Jacobs in May. Perhaps Andrade and Saunders can fight later in 2019. Or maybe Andrade can appeal to Gennady Golovkin.
Andrade would have more appeal if he did himself more favors by being more entertaining. He’d be a bigger star. Instead, he brings a lot of risk to the table, but nowhere near the reward.
Oscar Rivas TKOs Bryant Jennings Late, Moves Up Heavyweight Rankings
The heavyweight fight between Bryant Jennings and Oscar Rivas was a true crossroads bout.
Jennings was a heavyweight contender who’d lost twice before, who’d fought for the championship once and fallen short, and was working his way back toward another chance. Rivas was the prospect, unbeaten but largely untested.
The winner would move closer to a shot at the title. The loser wouldn’t deserve it yet — and might not ever deserve it again.
In this case, it was the prospect building himself up by taking out the contender. Rivas scored a 12th-round knockout over Jennings. He’s still a long way from being ready for a title shot. But he’s closer than Jennings now.
The action itself wasn’t overly thrilling in the 11 rounds leading up to that ending. Jennings largely boxed to stay away from his more powerful opponent, trying to land something to make Rivas respect him, but rarely throwing in combination because that would leave himself open for being countered. Rivas, meanwhile, mostly plodded forward, often waiting to throw until Jennings stopped moving.
Rivas went to the body a few times in the fifth round to try to lessen Jennings’ movement and bring his hands down. Jennings let his hands go more early in the sixth. The two fighters had a good exchange on the ropes toward the end of the seventh. Jennings had some success going around Rivas’ guard and landing to the head and body in the eighth.
Going into the last round, Jennings had outlanded Rivas but was behind on two of the three judges’ scorecards — not that either boxer could know that at the time.
Rivas kept the fight from going to the judges. He scored early with a left to the body, another hook upstairs, and extended into a combination that hurt Jennings. Jennings retreated to the ropes. Rivas kept on throwing until Jennings dropped. Jennings was on his knees by four, responding to the referee, taking his time before rising at nine. But it wasn’t long until he was back on the ropes again, and this time Rivas was able to keep throwing until the referee jumped in, saving Jennings from further punishment.
Rivas is now 26-0 with 18 KOs. Jennings has a rematch clause. If he doesn’t want the immediate rematch, then Rivas could target contender Kubrat Pulev next instead, according to Mathieu Boulay of the Montreal Journal (Rivas is Colombian but now lives in Canada).
Rivas and Pulev fought in the opening round of the 2008 Olympics. Rivas won that fight, then lost to the eventual gold medalist in the next round. Pulev’s had a pretty good pro career, going 26-1 with 13 KOs. His only loss came by KO to then-heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Pulev has won six straight since.
Jennings is now 24-3 with 14 KOs. He’d lost a decision to Klitschko in 2015 and then got stopped by Luis Ortiz later that year. Jennings had taken 20 months off before returning in 2017, rebuilding with five victories in a row. This is a considerable setback.
Shakur Stevenson Starts 2019 With a Bang, Stops Jessie Cris Rosales
The rise of Shakur Stevenson continues.
With every fight, Stevenson appears to be more capable and more comfortable in the ring. The latest example of that came last Friday, when the featherweight prospect dominated Jessie Cris Rosales en route to scoring a fourth-round technical knockout.
Stevenson’s superiority was clear from the outset. He had no difficulty avoiding Rosales’ shots while strafing his opponent with combinations upstairs. In the first round, Stevenson landed 11 shots, according to CompuBox. Rosales was credited with landing just one.
Rosales began to target Stevenson’s body in Round 2. It was a wise idea, given how difficult it had been to hit Stevenson’s head. Then again, Rosales was finding success largely because Stevenson had started to work from closer range more often.
Stevenson was working to break Rosales down, digging downstairs as well as mixing in heavy blow upstairs. Twice in the third round, he walloped Rosales with a left uppercut followed by a southpaw left cross.
Rosales tried to stand his ground. He was game but outgunned.
In the fourth round, an exchange — and the fight — ended when Stevenson dropped Rosales hard with a flush left hand. Rosales beat the count, rising by seven, but the referee didn’t like what he saw and called the bout off.
Stevenson moves to 10-0 with 6 KOs. He turned pro 21 months ago after capturing the silver medal in the 2016 Olympics. Now he says he’s ready for a world title shot at 126 pounds. It still seems a bit early for that. Look instead for Stevenson’s team to let him develop for at least a little longer. He’s grown tremendously in such a short time, and there’s plenty more room to grow into quite a talent.
Rosales is now 22-2-1 with 10 KOs. His other loss also came the last time he stepped up, when he was put away in two rounds by Jhonny Gonzalez back in 2017.