THE great Manny Pacquiao cruised to a comfortable unanimous decision over “The Problem” Adrien Broner to defend his WBA welterweight title on Saturday night in front of a sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The scores were 117-111, 116-112 twice.
The Filipino icon and boxing’s only eight-division champion Pacquaio – who was fighting for the first time as a 40-year-old, and the first time in the United State in more than two years – used effective jabs and sustained body work in his 70th professional fight that was watched by an announced attendance of 13,025 fans, including the retired Floyd Mayweather.
In the co-feature, Staten Island native Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KOs) won defeated a bloodied Badou Jack (22-2-3, 13 KOs) by upset unanimous decision for the Interim WBA Light Heavyweight belt. The scores were 119-108, 117-110, 116-111.
Jack suffered a gruesome five-inch cut to his forehead after an accidental clash of heads in the seventh round of the fight. The former Olympian Browne told Gray the head butt did not affect the outcome of the fight.
“He couldn’t find me before that [head butt],” said the 28-year-old Browne, who made his professional debut on ShoBox: The New Generation following the 2012 Olympics. “He couldn’t find me. I was just too sharp, too slick, too anything. He was coming with his head all night. He kept coming with his head.”
The Las Vegas resident and former two-division champion Jack was taken immediately to the hospital for observation. Jack, who was fighting in his seventh consecutive world title fight, gave all the credit to Browne. “I was flat,” he said. “I don’t know what it was, but no excuses. I would love the rematch. Now I have to rest, get the head fixed and hopefully get that chance in the future.”
Browne was the more active fighter, throwing 515 total punches to 303 for Jack. Browne connected on 103 of his power punches compared to just 58 for Jack.
The taller, southpaw Browne said he stuck to his game-plan and peppered Jack continuously with his strong straight left jab. “He thought he was going to take me to deep water and drown me, but I was in shape,” he said. “Teddy Atlas, you think you have the best light heavyweight? (Oleksandr) Gvozdyk, let’s go.
“I just used my athletic ability and did what I do best, and that’s box the hell out of people.”
In a rematch of their close 2012 Olympic showdown, France’s Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11 KOs) captured the vacant WBC Bantamweight World Title with a unanimous decision against Cincinnati’s Rau’shee Warren (16-3, 4 KOs). The scores were 117-111, 116-112, 115-113.
“This was my dream,” said Oubaali, who was making his U.S. debut. “I made my dream come true, my American dream. I want to thank all the people of America and France who supported me.”
By winning the all-southpaw matchup, the 32-year-old Oubaali became the first French-born champion in 11 years.
The first six rounds were close as both fighters were separated by four or fewer punches. Oubaali controlled the fight in the middle rounds, with SHOWTIME’s official scorer Steve Farhood giving the more active Oubaali rounds five through 10 before giving Warren the close 11th.
“I felt like I was doing pretty good in the beginning of the fight but after the fifth or sixth I let off the gas,” said Warren, a former world champion. “I was using my jab and wanted to finish it with my left hand. The judges saw it the way it was. He wanted it more. You could tell. He had his foot on the gas.”
The seventh round was the most action-packed of the fight with Oubaali going on the attack and hurting Warren by landing effective combinations. Oubaali pulled away in the final six rounds as he out-landed Warren 100-51 in total punches and was the effective aggressor and the more active fighter.
Following the ninth round, Warren’s trainer Barry Hunter could be heard telling Warren he needed each of the final three rounds if he was going to win the fight.
“I put on the pressure,” Oubaali said. “I had the speed. He is a very good boxer – he’s slick, and he’s smart. This is a very big night to win my first world championship.”
In the telecast opener, Hugo Ruiz (39-4, 32 KOs) was successful in his featherweight debut as he dominated late replacement Alberto Guevara (27-4, 12 KOs), knocking him down once in the opening minute of the fight and winning easily on all three judges’ scorecards 100-89, 99-90 twice.
The fast starting Ruiz, who has 18 previous knockouts in round one, showed his early power and he sent the former two-time world title challenger Guevara to the canvas with a strong right followed by a left uppercut at 1:41 of the first round.
“It was hard for me training for a southpaw and then getting a new opponent I knew nothing about,” said the 30-year-old Ruiz, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, who is a former world champion at 122 pounds. “The other guy was a puncher and this guy is a boxer. It’s tough to fight a guy who is just trying to survive out there and running. He came in and got caught early, and that set the pace for the rest of the fight.”
Mexico’s Guevara was fighting on just one days’ notice after Jhack Tepora failed to make the 126-pound weight limit on Friday.
“It was supposed to be a title fight,” Ruiz said. “I was so disappointed and my mind wasn’t totally in it.”
All photos: Esther Lin/Showtime