By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Freddie Roach would much rather have Manny Pacquiao fight Vasyl Lomachenko than Terence Crawford.
Pacquiao said earlier this week that he wants to fight Lomachenko. Unfortunately for Pacquiao, Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager, doesn’t think beating an aging, comparatively inactive Pacquiao would do much to enhance his fighter’s reputation, especially since he’d have to move up more than one weight class to oppose Pacquiao.
If Lomachenko-Pacquiao becomes a realistic possibility, however, Roach told BoxingScene.com that Pacquiao could come down to 140 pounds to make it happen.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) is the WBO 130-pound champion and widely viewed as one of the top five boxers on most pound-for-pound lists. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is considering moving up to 135 pounds later this year if the title unification fights he wants within the super featherweight division don’t materialize.
The 39-year-old Pacquiao couldn’t come all the way down to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds to battle the 29-year-old Lomachenko. But Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, said the Filipino legend walks around at 138 pounds and would welcome a fight against Lomachenko at the junior welterweight limit of 140.
“I love the Lomachenko fight,” Roach said. “I like that better because I’ve been hearing so much about Terence Crawford lately. And Terence might be a little bit too young and a little bit too big at this point. But the other way [Lomachenko], I like that fight for Manny. All we need is one tune-up fight, and we’ll go into [the Lomachenko] fight, no problem.”
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) hasn’t fought since losing the WBO welterweight title to Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 11 KOs) six months ago. Horn won a controversial unanimous decision against Pacquiao on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, is the mandatory challenger for Horn’s title and also generally regarded as one of the best boxers in the sport. If the heavily favored Crawford defeats Horn in a fight expected to take place sometime in April, Crawford-Pacquiao would make financial sense for both boxers.
Pacquiao, a senator in his homeland, could return to the ring on the Crawford-Horn card. That’ll happen, though, only if Crawford-Horn card takes place when the Senate of the Philippines isn’t in session.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.