Manny Pacquiao next fight: Garcia, McGregor and Crawford among options
It has been close to 20 months since we last saw Manny Pacquiao step between the ropes but at 42, the ring legend is back in the gym preparing for his next fight.
‘Pac Man’ has confirmed he is back in training with a ‘big announcement’ on its way with no shortage of takers eager to test themselves against the evergreen Filipino.
After securing a dominant win over Adrien Broner in January 2019, Pacquiao went onto win his 12th major world title later that year, securing a split decision win over Keith Thurman to take the WBA (Super) welterweight crown.
While the title may no longer be his to defend, Pacquiao’s legacy in the sport ensures he remains one of the most sought-after opponents in boxing.
Fresh from a career-best victory over Luke Campbell, 22-year-old Garcia immediately set his sights on a dream fight with Pacquiao, sharing a poster for a legacy showdown with the veteran to his 8.4 million Instagram followers in January.
12 years ago, Pacquiao rose from the lower weight classes, moving up two divisions to destroy Oscar de la Hoya, sending the Hall of Famer into retirement and taking his place at the summit of the sport.
A similar changing of the guard would await the lightning-fast Garcia – or give Pacquiao the chance to show ‘King Ry’ this is still very much his kingdom.
A catchweight would likely be needed if a fight between the two gets over the line with Garcia’s father dismissing talk the contest would be fought under exhibition-style rules.
Talk from the Garcia camp has quietened in recent weeks however with Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez recently telling EPSN ‘that fight isn’t going to happen’.
Trainer Eddy Reynoso is also opposed, insisting Garcia is best served focusing on a lightweight showdown with Gervonta Davis.
Pacquiao and McGregor appeared to be on a collision course heading into the New Year with much of the groundwork seemingly laid ahead of 2021.
Last summer, Pacquiao linked up with management company Paradigm Sports who also represent the Dubliner. Audie Attar, who heads the group, later declared Pacquiao vs McGregor ‘inevitable’.
Days out from his UFC 257 meeting with Dustin Poirier in January, McGregor declared the fight ‘almost a certainty’. Poirier didn’t read the script, however, stopping ‘Notorious’ inside two rounds with McGregor later admitting he deserved the defeat after focusing too much on his boxing stance.
Despite that Poirier loss, Pacquiao vs McGregor would likely still be the most lucrative option for both men. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t make any less sense than it did a month ago. It remains an eight-weight world champion against a fighter with a 0-1 professional boxing record, a nonsensical but still compelling spectacle – and one that will still comfortably outsell most.
Errol Spence Jr
Spence currently holds 50 per cent of the gold on offer at 147lbs, outpointing Shawn Porter in a unification thriller in September 2019 to walk away as IBF and WBC champion.
After miraculously escaping a car crash with only superficial injuries later that year, ‘The Truth’ looked his usual slick-self upon his return to the ring last December, easing past Danny Garcia with more gold firmly in his sights.
The WBA’s decision to declare Pacquiao a ‘champion in recess’ due to his inactivity however may remove him from the equation. Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas has since been promoted as the governing body’s ‘Super’ champion having previously held the ‘regular’ belt, making him a likely next option for Spence. Without the belt, Spence vs Pacquiao doesn’t have the same allure.
Spence and Ugas have since exchanged tweets over a three-belt unification fight and with both men sharing an advisor in Al Haymon, the bout should be relatively easy to deliver.
Crawford vs Pacquiao has been much discussed by Bob Arum over the last 12 to 18 months, with the veteran promoter still overseeing Crawford at Top Rank having worked with Pacquiao for much of his career until a rather amicable parting in 2018.
According to Arum, an agreement was close last year only for the deal to fall by the wayside as Covid-19 rocked the sport. Crawford, undefeated in 37 and still top of many people’s pound-for-pound list, eased past Kell Brook in November before declaring his intention to fight Pacquiao next – with Spence to follow.
April or May 2021 in Qatar was touted as a possible date and venue and while boxing needs Crawford vs Spence, Pacquiao remains an option.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Logan Paul, Jake Paul and 50 Cent are among the names Floyd Mayweather Jr has targeted as he embarks on a money-spinning exhibition tour that will undoubtedly leave a sour taste with the sport’s purists.
Mayweather famously got the better of Pacquiao when the two finally did battle in May 2015, securing a unanimous decision win in the bout dubbed ‘The Fight of the Century’, still standing as the most lucrative PPV of all time.
Talk of a rematch has been and gone but a delay to ‘Money’s proposed exhibition bout with Logan Paul this month invited Pacquiao’s manager Sean Gibbons to urge Mayweather to accept an offer.
“Floyd, you can come and get some! Senator Pacquiao will send you into double retirement,” said Gibbons. But is the appetite for a rematch really still there, six years on?
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