Forget What You’ve Heard, Pacquiao is Still the Best Welterweight
By: Matthew N. Becher
The welterweight division has and will always be one of the top divisions in the sport of boxing. At the very moment it is one of the richest with young talent and major fights. Just three weeks ago, undefeated champions, Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman unified two of the major four belts at a sold out and raucous Barclays Center, in what was billed as “the two best welterweights in the world”.
Just this week, another major welterweight fight was announced for May 27th, against IBF champion Kell Brook and the undefeated Errol Spence Jr., which will take place in front of 30,000 people in the UK. All four of these fighters are toward the very top of the division. All four of these fighters are 30 years old or under (Thurman 28; Garcia 29; Brook 30; Spence 27). They are without a shadow of a doubt the future of the division.
But what everyone keeps seeming to forget is the man that holds the 4th welterweight title. The other man who is pushing 39 years old. The other man that has literally put boxing as his second occupation. That other man is the great Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao is the WBO welterweight champion. He has 59 wins and is coming off of a year where he dominated Timothy Bradley Jr. for a 3rd time and also destroyed a young top ten welterweight and world champion in Jessie Vargas. Pacquiao is without a question of a doubt, still the very top of the division. Unfortunately he is being left out of the conversation.
This doesn’t go without saying that Manny has done a great deal to ruin his own name. His position as a congressman in his native Philippines has taken him away from the global day to day spotlight of the boxing world. His completely uncalled for rant about homosexuals a couple of years back that lost him his sponsorships, and the fact that he tried to make a fight with Amir Khan without his promoters backing (and that of a false Dubai Prince), have all hurt the Pacquiao brand.
After watching “The two best welterweights in the world”, that was Garcia v. Thurman, and the boring affair they presented, one could not help but see, even a 39 year old Pacquiao box circles around these kids. Pacquiao still fights with more speed and angles. His power may have diminished, but it still seems to be on par with the other top welters around today.
Pacquiao is said to be on his “retirement tour”, when a proposed fight against Australia’s Jeff Horn was in the works, but who else will turn up for a Pacquiao fight? Would Thurman or Garcia’s management let the brand they have grown, take a chance against Pacquiao? Most of these Welterweights are under the same umbrella (PBC) and rarely are matched up against one another, could maybe an Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, Garcia or Thurman be allowed to take a risk against the top Welterweight in the world. The money is still lucrative, though maybe not as much as it was even five years ago. Just do not be fooled. Manny is still the best active welterweight in the world, pound for pound level even. He may be close to retirement, but he is far from being washed.