SAYING he feels young at the age of 40, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring today to fight American challenger Adrien Broner in a bout he wants to win like crazy as he eyes another crack at Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
“ I can still fight and win at 40,” said Pacquiao, shortly after the weigh-in inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the very same place where he had posted a lot of his greatest wins against great boxers like Oscar dela Hoya and Miguel Cotto.
And fighting and beating a tough boxer like Broner is something that the Pacman said he could do at this stage of a career which everyone believes is the finest in his time.
In front of hundreds of adoring countrymen and fans, Pacquiao tipped the scales at exactly 146 pounds, well inside the weight limit of 147, looking ready and feeling fine to defend his World Boxing Association welterweight championship against one who has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“I’m happy to be back here and happy to fight tomorrow night,” he said, smiling broadly as his fans in the gallery shouted “Manny, Manny, Manny”. “Tomorrow, I have something to prove—that Manny Pacquiao is still there”.
When it was his turn to talk, Broner told the crowd that he is determined to seize the moment and eventually earn the respect that has eluded him despite having a fine record highlighted by 27 straight wins.
“I feel good. It’s a helluva opportunity. After I win tomorrow night, I’ll be a legend overnight,” said Broner, who tipped the scales at 146.5 pounds. “I’m going to beat him up. I’m going to dominate and win.”
The bout marks the first time in two years that Manny will fight in American soil where he’s made a lot of fighting and a lot of fortune, including a dull fight with Mayweather that earned for him more than $100 million.
Now they are talking again of a bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather in a sequel to their Fight of the Century in 2005 that went down in the annals of the boxing as the richest ever.
But it was an eyesore to fans, with Mayweather taking a unanimous decision win over Manny, who said after the loss that he fought with only one good arm.
Today, Manny will enter the ring as favorite over Broner, 29, who once strung up 27 victories including 22 by knockouts, before humiliating losses to Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia made him look like a very ordinary boxer.
But the American exuded confidence against Pacquiao, saying there’s nothing to be afraid of because “we bleed the same, we walk the same, we put our pants on one at a time.”
Broner’s last fight was a forgettable one. He settled for a draw against Jessie Vargas, the same boxer whom Pacquiao beat by unanimous decision when they met in 2016.
Questions about the things he can do at 40 never stopped being raised when in the company of sportswriters.
But the Pacman had a ready answer.
“Forty is just a number. It doesn”t matter that I’m 40. I feel young. Tomorrow, I will prove that at 40, I can still be at my best,” he said.
This fight will also mark the first time that Manny and Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach are back in other’s arms as they renewed a special partnership that produced greatness and riches.
That 15-year, special bond ended two years ago when Pacquiao lost on points to Australian Jeff Horn, a bout which many pundits said should have been awarded to the Filipino.
In his last appearance on top of the ring, Manny dazzled. He knocked out Lucas Matthyssee last year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to become the new WBA welterweight king.
This will be the 70th fight in a career that saw Pacquiao, who had his first pro fight at the age of 17, post 69 wins, 39 by KO, seven losses and two draws.
But the fighting senator wants this one.
It’s because a win over Broner will surely pave the way for the staging of the Pacquiao-Mayweather 2.
Pacquiao refused to delve on this matter, but anyone who knows his boxing says the Filipino wants Mayweather again in what could be the last bout of his marvelous career.
Mind you, Mayweather will be at ringside to watch the bout.