‘MANNY PACQUIAO cruises to unanimous points victory over Adrien Broner to set up rematch with Floyd Mayweather’ is the headline that was already written. We knew, or at least we were fairly certain, that Manny Pacquiao would have too much left for the eternally disillusioned Adrien Broner. And we knew that Floyd Mayweather, aloof yet eager to be involved, would sit at ringside and rumblings of May-Pac II would increase in volume.

So it proved.

On his way to posting a unanimous points win and then answering questions about Mayweather, Pacquiao was busier than Broner, more accurate, craftier and fitter. In short, he was better. Better at the age of 40 than Broner is at the age of 29. Better at the age of 40 than Broner has ever been, or ever will be.

At the end of 12 rounds he mostly lost, after a week of typical Broner behaviour that made it impossible to root for him, he ranted and raved and again blamed all but himself for his shortcomings. Yet the fact he was given yet another chance to show us what we already knew said plenty about the boxing world today.

But none of that was or should be a surprise. We’ve been admiring Pacquiao for many years, even his later years when – predominantly – the Filipino has defied them. Similarly, we’ve been expecting Broner to lose pretty much every time he’s stepped up, and then called him all sorts when he’s done exactly that.

So did we learn anything new last night? Well, not really. The theme merely gathered pace.

So we love to hate Broner, yet the extent of how much we love to love Pacquiao was more apparent. The superlatives flowed in the aftermath of Pacquiao’s latest success and they were deserved to a point. I can’t think of a fighter so effortlessly energetic at the age of 40. He’s a joy to watch, has skills and guile to burn, and he’s at ease with getting older. He’s not trying to convince anyone he’s better than ever while convincing everyone he’s better than most.

His punches don’t carry the weight of his peak, but he still throws an awful lot of them. Furthermore, they’re accurate and hurtful and continue to get the job done.

Well, they do against a certain type of fighter.

Which is why it’s important to retain some objectivity when analysing his work. Because though we should give Pacquiao ample credit for the level of his performance, we must also keep in mind our long-held opinion on Broner as we do so. Let’s not go overboard because Pacquiao defeated a fighter he was supposed to defeat.

For context, think of how critics reacted to Floyd Mayweather’s 49th career win, and many other wins besides, when he outscored the undeserving Andre Berto over 12 rounds in 2015. What followed that victory was accusations of Mayweather handpicking his opponent, of playing by his own rules and making a mockery of more deserving rivals in the process.

In truth, the Andre Berto of 2015 was a better welterweight contender than the ‘AB’ that Pacquiao defeated last night. Yet you can bet Manny’s triumph will be more highly regarded when all is said and done. Let’s face it, Pacquiao will always be a hero and Mayweather will always be a villain.

And it’s for that reason alone why May-Pac II remains appealing to some in 2019. It’s the same reason why Pacquiao beating Broner so effectively provided so much pleasure to so many.

Pacquiao is not claiming to be something he’s not. He’s not getting up people’s noses by shoving dollar bills in their faces or marching through Las Vegas chanting ‘easy work’ while calling himself the best fighter who ever lived.

Throughout his career Pacquiao has retained that everyman appeal through humility and that, alongside his all-action style, continues to go a long way when we assess his accomplishments now. Humble and always willing to let his hands go. Talk about the opposite of Floyd.

And it’s that contrast of characters, more than their fighting styles at this point, that will likely make Mayweather-Pacquiao II appealing to millions.

You might scoff at the thought of a return. But I also bet you’ll watch when it almost inevitably occurs. And while I completely agree with those who say we should forget about this nonsense and focus on younger fighters and better contests, it’s also important to remember how much boxing has moved on since their first encounter in 2015.

Back then May-Pac was supposed to save the sport. So much was riding on it. So much money was spent on it. Boxing needed it to deliver because the whole world was watching. As a consequence of that pressure and expectation, what followed was always going to disappoint.

In 2019, the landscape is different. Boxing will not hold its breath this time. It has more important things to be worrying about, like Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. Like the rise of Vasyl Lomachenko, Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford. Like the next steps for Naoya Inoue and Oleksandr Usyk. And where Gennady Golovkin goes from here.

May-Pac II provides an interesting aside to the above, but it should not be allowed to be more than that.

Otherwise we’ll just be disappointed. Disappointed that it’s not a thriller. Disappointed when Pacquiao, your hero, my hero, everyone’s hero, shows what we have always known, or at least known for a while: That although Manny Pacquiao is much too good for Adrien Broner, he’s not quite good enough to beat Floyd Mayweather.