By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Stephen Espinoza expects Adrien Broner to give Manny Pacquiao a difficult fight January 19.
Showtime’s president of sports and event programming understands why handicappers have installed Pacquiao, who’ll turn 40 before their fight, as a 2-1 favorite over the 29-year-old Broner. That’s expected, considering Pacquiao knocked out Lucas Matthysse four months ago and Broner boxed to a split draw with Jessie Vargas in his last bout.
Pacquiao easily out-pointed Vargas two years ago to win the WBO welterweight title. Espinoza still thinks the Showtime Pay-Per-View main event between Broner and Pacquiao will be very competitive.
“At this point, odds-makers have favored Pacquiao,” Espinoza said during a press conference Monday in Manhattan. “And that’s understandable, because he is, of course, a Hall-of-Famer, with a Hall-of-Fame resume. But it would be a mistake to overlook Adrien Broner in this fight. Broner never backs down from a challenge. As long as I’ve known him and worked with him, he’s never turned down a fight. Not against bigger opponents, like Shawn Porter, not against big punchers, like Marcos Maidana. Not against the guys that no one wants to fight.
“And Broner gives them tough fights. Twelve rounds against Shawn Porter, knocking Shawn down in the 12th round. Twelve grueling rounds against Marcos Maidana. So those of you that think this is an easy fight or an easy bet because of the odds, think again. You have two of the most talented fighters of this generation, two of the most athletically gifted fighters of this generation. I guarantee this one will be a must-see attraction.”
The Philippines’ Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) and Cincinnati’s Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) will fight for the WBA world welterweight title Pacquiao captured when he knocked out Matthysse in the seventh round of their July 15 fight in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their 12-round, 147-pound title bout will headline a card at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I guarantee this will be an exciting fight,” Espinoza said. “There will be plenty of action for the fans.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.