By: Hans Themistode
Everything seemed all lined up for Errol Spence Jr.
Coming into his showdown against Mikey Garcia in March of 2019, the Dallas native had a surprising but welcoming guest sit ringside in Manny Pacquiao. On the night, Spence Jr. dominated Garcia, winning every single round.
The powerful southpaw’s eye-catching performance seemed to be just what he needed to prove to the future first-ballot Hall of Famer that he was a worthy opponent. However, according to trainer Derrick James, Spence Jr.’s lights out showing may have actually pushed Pacquiao away from taking the fight all together.
“Manny came to Dallas when Errol fought Mikey and he said he wanted to fight the winner,” said James during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “When he saw how good Errol looked, I think he changed his mind.”
Instead of taking on Spence Jr. (27-0, 21 KOs) as many assumed, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) alternatively chose to take on then, WBA titlist Keith Thurman. Pacquiao would go on to drop the aforementioned Thurman before ultimately winning a close decision.
Since then, the Filipino native has been sitting idly on the sidelines. The reasoning behind his lack of ring appearances is mostly due to COVID-19 and the restrictions it places on live crowds from entering boxing events.
Pacquiao’s stretch of inactivity has recently led to the WBA stripping him of his world title and elevating then “Regular” champion Yordenis Ugas to “Super” champion status, while Pacquiao has been relegated to “Champion in Recess,” meaning, if and when Pacquiao does return to the ring, he would be given the first shot at Ugas to regain his world title.
However, Spence Jr. is currently in the midst of relieving Ugas of his newly won crown. On the Dallas native’s Twitter account, he seemed to indicate that since Ugas is in possession of the full title, he would love to unify against the Cuban native.
Pacquiao though, doesn’t appear to be in any rush to regain his championship status at 147-pounds. Several sources close to the situation have linked the 42-year-old multiple division titlist to lightweight star Ryan Garcia as a possible exhibition bout between the pair could be on the brink of becoming a reality.
While James would love it if his fighter was given the opportunity to face Pacquiao, he’s unsure when, or if, it will ever happen.
“I don’t know. I think he’s in the business to unify the belts so you never know.”