Pacquiao ready for Broner

In this file photo taken on January 16, 2019, WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (left) and Adrien Broner face off during a news conference at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: AFP

LOS ANGELES: Manny Pacquiao is aiming to offer fresh evidence that life begins at 40 when the Filipino veteran takes on Adrien Broner on Saturday in his first fight in Las Vegas for more than two years.

Pacquiao, who celebrated his 40th birthday last month with a lavish birthday party in the Philippines, defends his WBA regular welterweight crown against Broner at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It is the Filipino’s first bout on US soil since a unanimous decision win over Jessie Vargas in the Nevada boxing and gaming capital in November 2016.

Since then, Pacquiao’s career has followed an uncertain trajectory, with a shock defeat to Australia’s Jeff Horn in Brisbane in 2017 followed by a year-long absence from the ring.

Pacquiao (60-4-2, 39 knockouts) made a triumphant return in Kuala Lumpur last July, scoring his first knockout win in six years with a seventh-round stoppage of Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse.

That impressive return paved the way for Saturday’s bout with the 29-year-old Broner, who boasts 33 wins, 24 by knockout in his 38-fight career. While Pacquiao insists he is looking no further than Saturday’s contest against Broner, many observers view the fight as a stepping stone towards a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather following their money-spinning 2015 superfight.

“My plan is one at a time,” Pacquiao told AFP. “I cannot say about the future until January 19. After that we’ll have a press conference. Leave it as a question mark for now.

“I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. But I want to maintain my name at the top and to show that even at 40 years old I can still give the best of Manny Pacquiao, the speed, the power, everything.”

Broner meanwhile has bristled at any suggestion Pacquiao is already looking past him towards a bigger payday.

“People are talking a lot about Pacquiao fighting Floyd Mayweather again, but I’m pretty sure Floyd is retired,” Broner said this week. “I feel like people are trying to throw me to the wolves and overlook me.

“Manny Pacquiao has done a lot for the sport. I’m going to beat him up and have a drink with him afterward…I’m going to dominate and win.”

Perhaps significantly, Pacquiao’s preparations have been strengthened by the return to his corner of trainer Freddie Roach.

Roach and Pacquiao split following the 2017 defeat to Horn, when Pacquiao apparently took umbrage at Roach’s statement that his political career in the Philippines – he was elected to the Philippine Senate in 2016 – was incompatible with boxing.

“After the fight in Australia, I explained to Manny that being a Senator and being a professional champion boxer is very difficult,” Roach told AFP. –AFP