Manny Pacquiao, perhaps out of sight and out of mind to American boxing fans, wants to show he's not done yet, and Adrien Broner aims to rejuvenate his career against a legend.
Those are the central storylines as Pacquiao and Broner, who could not keep a straight face when they were supposed to stare each other down for the cameras, met at a news conference Monday in New York to announce their fight.
Pacquiao, returning to fight in the United States for the first time in two years and for the first time since his recent signing with adviser Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions, will defend his secondary welterweight world title against former four-division titlist Broner on Jan. 19 in the main event of a Showtime PPV card (9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"I just want to prove I'm still in boxing. Manny Pacquiao is still in boxing, and my career and my journey in boxing is continuing," Pacquiao said. "I just want to give a good show on Jan. 19. I know my opponent is fast and he's good. We have to work hard and train hard for this fight so the people will be happy on Jan. 19.
"I chose Adrien Broner because I believe we can have a good fight and entertain the fans. He's a good boxer. We cannot underestimate him. Everyone knows Adrien Broner is a good, experienced boxer."
Broner, who is 0-1-1 in his past two fights, promised a top-flight effort.
"There's a lot of people who wanted this fight and God blessed me to get it and I guess I'm just he chosen one," Broner said. "What can I say about Pacquiao? He's a future Hall of Famer. He do some great things. I got some things to worry about. He's great. It's going to be a hell of a fight. All bulls--- aside, I'm not coming just to pick up a check. F--- the money. I know when I win this fight there's more money to come."
Pacquiao, a senator in the Philippines, has not boxed in the U.S. since winning a decision over Jessie Vargas to win a welterweight belt in November 2016. Pacquiao has made hundreds of millions of dollars but has been dealing with an eight-figure IRS bill, which was the key reason he fought his past two fights overseas before deciding to come back to the U.S.
"Manny has had an ongoing payment plan with the IRS the last two years, and a fight like this I think the IRS is very happy because he is able to handle whatever needs to be done for his taxes," Sean Gibbons, the matchmaker for Pacquiao's MP Promotions and a Pacquiao confidant, told ESPN.
After the Vargas fight, Pacquiao fought in July 2017 but lost the belt by hugely controversial decision to Jeff Horn in Horn's hometown of Brisbane, Australia. After a year off, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), who turns 40 on Dec. 17, returned in July and knocked out Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round -- Pacquiao's first KO since his 2009 victory over Miguel Cotto to win his first welterweight title -- to win a secondary welterweight belt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The fight with Matthysse was the last one in which longtime Pacquiao promoter Top Rank was involved. After Pacquiao became a free agent, he signed with Haymon, who works with most of the top welterweights in the sport. Pacquiao picked Broner to fight.
"This is a fight that we've been trying to make for several years now," said Joe Ramos, who heads MP Promotions and acknowledged that making the fight was not difficult once Pacquiao joined PBC.
A win over Broner could lead Pacquiao, boxing's only eight-division world champion, to a rematch with Haymon's most famous client, Floyd Mayweather, who outpointed Pacquiao to unify three welterweight world titles in their 2015 blockbuster that generated a combat sports record of more than $600 million and shattered every combat sports revenue record, including for most pay-per-views and live gate.
In September, Pacquiao and Mayweather met each other in Japan and discussed the prospect of a rematch, which could come about later in 2019 if Pacquiao defeats Broner. Mayweather has said he would come out of retirement for the bout.
"When we met in Japan, we talked and he said he wants to come out of retirement to fight me," Pacquiao said. "If he comes out of his retirement, we'll see after this fight, but we cannot underestimate Adrien Broner. I have to go through this fight first before we talk about Floyd Mayweather."
Broner took exception to the discussion of Mayweather and Pacquiao potentially meeting in a sequel. "He ain't fighting Floyd. He fightin' me. I'm about to beat your m-----f---ing ass and he's worried about Floyd? He already beat you, brother," Broner said to Pacquiao.
Although Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Cincinnati, has been a popular draw, he comes into the fight needing a win. He lost a clear decision to Mikey Garcia in July 2017, then boxed to a majority draw with Vargas on April 21.
Broner, who has won world titles at junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight, knows what a victory over Pacquiao could do for him.
"I win, I turn legend overnight," he said. "I got the whole 'hood with me like he has the whole Philippines with him. The things he's done in the game are unbelievable. I talk s--- and play, but I know come Jan. 19 I got to be on top of my s---, though. I'm here to f--- him up. For real.
"I feel like a bum trying to fight for a sandwich, I swear to God."
Broner, who has never been stopped in his three defeats, said he's aiming for a knockout. "He been knocked out three times," Broner said. "We know he can go to sleep. He don't need no Nyquil for that. We know he can go to sleep, and I got the power to do it."
Stephen Espinoza, who heads Showtime Sports, said he believes Broner is a live underdog.
"At this point, oddsmakers have favored Pacquiao, and that's understandable because he is, of course, a [surefire] Hall of Famer," Espinoza said. "But it would be a mistake to overlook Adrien Broner in this fight. Broner never backs down from a challenger. 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 no one wants to fight, and Broner gives them tough fights.
"Those of you who think this is an easy fight or an easy bet because of the odds, think again."
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