Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The first major boxing fight of the year takes place on Saturday night when Manny Pacquiao defends his WBA welterweight title against unpredictable American Adrien Broner.
Pacquiao is still going strong at the age of 40 and is the odds-on favourite to hold onto his belt with a victory at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Floyd Mayweather will be ringside for the fight which has only intensified speculation the American will come out of retirement for a rematch with Pacquiao assuming the champion wins this weekend.
The pressure will be on veteran Pacquiao to deliver his side of the bargain to set up a lucrative showdown later this year and the 40-year-old is fancied to deliver another victory.
Of course the iconic Filipino is past his best, in the twilight of his career, but he still has the qualities to overcome Broner.
Pacquiao was shocked by Jeff Horn after losing a controversial decision Brisbane in 2017. He responded strongly with a seventh round knockout win over Lucas Matthysse last summer.
This win shows he can still compete at elite level as he prepares for his 70th professional bout this weekend.
Manny Pacquiao through the years. 👑 pic.twitter.com/JqRQn4CPLa
— Boxing Royalty (@boxingroyalty1) January 10, 2019
His opponent Broner is a maverick but has not been able to translate his brash trash talking into world class performances in the ring.
The American made a promising start to his career, after a 27-fight unbeaten run, before suffering a unanimous points loss to Marcos Maidana in 2013.
This defeat had a hugely damaging effect on Broner with his air of invincibility shattered. He has not looked the same fighter since, losing on the scorecards to Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia.
After the defeat to Garcia, Broner shared a majority draw against Jessie Vargas in his last fight back in April.
The 29-year-old has plenty of questions to answer, looking increasingly defensive in recent fights with a reluctance to be the aggressor. His confidence appears to have been eroded by the defeats and he comes into this contest as the 12/5 underdog.
Pacquiao looks worth siding with but there is no guarantee it will be an early finish. He was once renowned as a devastating finisher but only one of his last ten victories have been by knockout.
Broner has also never been stopped. He has been knocked down but the American has found a way to see the final bell and it is likely be the same in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s aggression and willingness to come forward should catch the eye of the judges and he is well worth backing at Evens to win a decision against Broner.
Manny Pacquiao to win by decision or technical decision at 1/1