For many years Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino legend, was one of the most fearsome punchers in boxing.
He destroyed quality fighters such as Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera as he moved up the scale to win world titles in a record eight weight classes.
But from the time Pacquiao knocked out Cotto in the 12th round to win a welterweight world title for the first time in 2009 until scoring a seventh-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse to win a secondary welterweight belt in July, the Pacman had been in a KO drought. He had gone nearly nine years and a stretch of 13 fights without scoring a stoppage victory.
Pacquiao, who turned 40 on Dec. 17, was quite pleased to stop Matthysse, whom he knocked down three times, and said he hopes to make it two knockouts in a row when he defends his 147-pound belt against former four-division titlist Adrien Broner on Jan. 19 (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
"I am not making a prediction, but my goal is to knock out Broner," said Pacquiao, who spent a portion of his New Year's Eve training at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, where he is finishing camp after doing the first month in the Philippines. "I am looking for a knockout against Broner. I have to maximize the opportunity. I forgot how much fun winning a fight by knockout was until I stopped Lucas Matthysse last summer to win the WBA (secondary) welterweight title.
"It felt great to win that way and the fans loved it too, so why not try for it again? I have nothing personal against Adrien Broner. This fight is strictly business. He is fun. He makes me laugh. He knows how to sell himself and to sell a fight."
Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) will be fighting in the United States for the first time since November 2016, when he won a welterweight belt from Jessie Vargas by dominant decision. Pacquiao boxed his next two fights overseas -- in Brisbane, Australia, where he lost the belt to Jeff Horn by hugely controversial decision, and then in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he polished off Matthysse.
While longtime assistant trainer and best friend Buyboy Fernandez was promoted to head trainer for the Matthysse fight and remains in that role for the bout against Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Cincinnati, Pacquiao has reunited with Roach, who is working with Fernandez and overseeing the camp after a one-fight separation.
Both trainers are pleased with what they have seen from Pacquiao, who has put aside his work as a senator in the Philippines to train for the fight.
"I am very pleased with the training camp Manny has had. His footwork, distance and angles are all coming together nicely," Fernandez said. "When he hits the mitts it sounds like an explosion. I have never felt such raw power."
Roach added, "I think experience has made Manny a better fighter. He still trains harder than anyone. I like Broner as a fighter. I think he has excellent boxing skills, but Broner has never faced anyone like Manny. Broner will be mentally exhausted within four rounds and physically spent within six. It will be impossible for Broner to keep pace with the Manny Pacquiao of this training camp."
Pacquiao began the United States portion of his training camp on Christmas Eve and spent New Year's Eve with a five-mile run up the hills to the Hollywood sign followed by 12 rounds of mitt work with Roach, according to publicist Fred Sternburg. Pacquiao followed that with a 12-round sparring session followed by 1,000 sit-ups in his first training session of 2019.
"He runs like a deer," Justin Fortune, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, said. "No one can keep up with him. That's the secret to his success -- his work ethic and his stamina. He has the strongest foundation of any fighter with whom I've worked. His legs and calves still generate more power and speed than younger fighters."