By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao proved Saturday night that his knockout of Lucas Matthysse wasn’t an aberration.
The 40-year-old Pacquiao was stronger, busier and better than Adrien Broner for much of their 12-round, 147-pound title fight. Still fast and strong enough to defeat a significantly younger former champion, Pacquiao produced a convincing victory before what was announced as a sellout crowd of 13,025 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pacquiao won a unanimous decision by beating Broner by comfortable margins on the scorecards of judges Tim Cheatham (116-112), Glenn Feldman (116-112) and Dave Moretti (117-111). Pacquiao’s first fight since the Filipino legend turned 40 last month was the main event of a Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast.
Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) hurt Broner in the seventh and ninth rounds, but he couldn’t finish off his courageous challenger. Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC), who has not been knocked out as a pro, seemingly settled into survival mode during much of the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds.
“I proved in my last fight against Matthysse and now I proved it again,” Pacquiao told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring following his win. “The Manny Pacquiao journey will still continue.
“I wanted to push more, but my trainer said, ‘Don’t be careless. Wait for him, counter,’ and that’s what I did.”
The polarizing Broner oddly told Gray in his post-fight interview that he beat Pacquiao. Broner also claimed that the judges favored Pacquiao to ensure that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. meet in what would be a very lucrative rematch later this year.
“I beat him,” Broner said. “Everybody out there knows I beat him. I controlled the fight. He was missing. I hit him clean more times. I beat him.
“Let me let all you know, I wanna thank the whole hood who came out here. You know I beat that boy. They are trying to get that money with Pacquiao and Floyd.”
Unofficial CompuBox statistics credited Pacquiao for landing 62 more overall punches than Broner (112-of-568 to 50-of-295). Pacquiao landed more power punches (82-of-197 to 39-of-180) and jabs (30-of-371 to 11-of-115), according to CompuBox.
Pacquiao, who went off as about a 3-1 favorite at MGM Grand’s sports book, made the first defense of the WBA world welterweight title he won from Lucas Matthysse in his previous fight. Pacquiao scored three knockdowns against Argentina’s Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs, 1 NC) and won their scheduled 12-rounder by seventh-round technical knockout July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Broner suffered the fourth defeat of a pro career that began 10 years ago. He also slipped to 1-2-1 in his past four fights.
The former four-division champion settled for a draw with Jessie Vargas in his previous bout, yet still secured the biggest fight and biggest payday of his career. Pacquiao recorded a very decisive win over Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs) in their 12-rounder in November 2016.
Pacquiao beat Broner in his debut with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
The senator/boxer wants to fight Mayweather next. Mayweather watched the fight from ringside and spoke to Showtime during the Pacquiao-Broner bout regarding a potential rematch.
“You keep asking me about Manny Pacquiao,” Mayweather said. “He needs to get past Adrien Broner first. And right now, I’m living a happy and healthy life.”
Pacquiao spent most of the 11th and 12th rounds chasing Broner around the ring. By then, a content Broner obviously was most interested in making it to the final bell.
After hurting Broner for the second time in the fight during the ninth round, Pacquiao couldn’t do it again in the 10th round. Broner wasn’t effective in that round, either.
Broner lifted up Pacquiao’s leg awkwardly early in the ninth round, which led to a warning from Mora. A straight left by Pacquiao staggered Broner with just under 40 seconds to go in the ninth.
Broner stumbled into the ropes and held Pacquiao to prevent another punishing punch. Just as Broner did when he was hurt in the seventh round, however, the challenger survived that trouble.
Broner ate a Pacquiao right hook in the eighth round, but he took it well. By then, Broner had recovered from Pacquiao hurting him late in the seventh round.
Pacquiao hurt Broner badly with a straight left hand when there were about 50 seconds left in the seventh round. Broner, who was hunched over when Pacquiao connected, held right away.
Broner covered up, which allowed Pacquiao to unleash a barrage of power punches while Broner’s back was against the ropes. Broner got out of that predicament, only to have Pacquiao follow him – first to Pacquiao’s corner and then near a neutral corner – and unload more power punches.
Broner bravely withstood Pacquiao’s attack and made it to the end of the round.
Pacquiao went on the offensive during much of the sixth round. He hit Broner with a left hand to his body early in the round that made Broner double over and move away from him.
Broner’s best punch of the round – and maybe of the fight to that point – was the right uppercut he landed just before the bell sounded. Pacquiao took that flush punch well and stared at Broner when the round ended to let Broner know he was OK.
Broner began the fourth round strong by landing a straight right hand and a left hook within its first 20 seconds. The remainder of the round was competitive, but Broner drilled Pacquiao with a straight right hand with about five seconds to go in it.
Pacquiao buzzed Broner by drilling him with a straight left hand about 45 seconds into the third round. Broner immediately held him, so that Pacquiao couldn’t follow up on it.
Pacquiao connected with a left to Broner’s body late in the third round.
Mora warned Broner 55 seconds into the second round for using his elbow against Pacquiao’s throat while they were exiting a clinch. Pacquiao later hit Broner with a straight left hand that backed Broner into the ropes, near his own corner.
Pacquiao caught Broner with a straight left hand at the 1:05 mark of the first round. Broner mostly held his ground during those opening three minutes, but he didn’t hit Pacquiao with a flush punch.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.