By: Hans Themistode
At the age of 42 and having accomplished basically everything that there is to accomplish, Manny Pacquiao could have opted to walk away. The Filipino native not only has a treasure chest fill with world titles but he’s also a busy man. When he isn’t pounding away at the heavy bag, the powerful southpaw goes from knocking opponents out of the ring, to doing everything in his power to help his native land as a full-time senator.
Yet, despite having his name engraved in multiple world titles across eight separate weight divisions, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) has decided that he has wanted more. With the boxing world patiently waiting until he announced his next opponent, most, if not all, were taken aback once unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. was his official selection.
As the Dallas product physically towers over his man, Pacquiao’s adoring fanbase is simply wondering why couldn’t he merely pick a much softer touch? Yet, if you’ve closely watched Pacquiao since his ring debut in 1995, you’ll know that answer is a fairly easy one.
“I love to challenge the top guy,” said Pacquiao during an interview earlier today with The Athletic.
The news of Pacquiao facing Spence Jr. landed on the boxing community seemingly out of nowhere. As most of the world ran their daily errands, sat down for lunch or were just clocking out of their place of employment, the 42-year-old senator simply posted on both his Instagram and Twitter account a picture of himself and his much younger opponent. From there, chaos ensued.
While Pacquiao has, in fact, prided himself on facing the best fighters in the world, by the time he steps into the ring with Spence Jr., it will have been over two years since he was last seen in the ring. In July of 2019, Pacquiao floored the previously undefeated Keith Thurman in the opening round before ultimately eking out a close split decision win.
For any fighter, spending so much time on the sidelines could be viewed as detrimental. However, with Pacquiao turning professional when Spence Jr. (27-0, 21 KOs) was only five years old, he believes the time away has allowed him a much-needed recharge.
“It’s been two years since I’ve fought but I’m not worried about (ring rust) because a long layoff is good for me after being in boxing for 25 years before that. It’s good to rest. It’s given my body a chance to recover.”
Although fans are already scrambling to find cheap airline tickets and make hotel reservations, Pacquiao noticeably made one omission in his fight announcement, the venue. Having fought in the MGM Grand Garden on numerous occasions, including against Thurman, their Las Vegas arena would seemingly be the front runner yet again. All things considered, with the magnitude of this event, Pacquiao hinted that he could opt for a much bigger venue.
“They’re trying to get me into the big (stadium) there, the new one,” he said.
The arena that Pacquiao could be alluding to is the newly built 65,000 seat Allegiant Stadium.
As for Spence Jr., he’s slowly but effectively worked his way to the biggest fight of his career. After running through the competition over the past few years, his days near the top of the division were predicted to be over following his horrific car wreck in October of 2019. With that said, the unified champion proved that he’s just fine following his one-sided beating against former two-division titlist, Danny Garcia.
Although he’s viewed as a complete fighter, Spence Jr. is mostly lauded for his physicality and strength. While Pacquiao agrees that his upcoming opponent is physically imposing, when it comes down to it, he believes he has the edge in every department, including strength.
“I’m faster and stronger than him.”
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