By Jake Donovan
With everything else he’s accomplished in his incredible career—and continues to achieve even at age 40—you’d think by now that Manny Pacquiao can avoid questions surrounding his old rival and fellow all-time great Floyd Mayweather.
Then again, you’d also think he wouldn’t be the one to initiate such conversations.
The former eight-division titlist and future Hall of Famer made the media rounds on Wednesday to help drum up interest for his forthcoming showdown with unbeaten welterweight titlist Keith Thurman. The two collide on July 20 atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event live from MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A two-city press tour with the two boxers and those involved in the promotion began in New York on Tuesday before travelling cross country to Los Angeles, where Pacquiao visited the Fox Sports studio to talk about his next fight as well as one that will forever remain on his wish list—a rematch with Mayweather, against whom he dropped a 12-round decision atop a May 2015 PPV show which registers as the highest grossing boxing event in history.
“It’s really important to have a (rematch) with Floyd,” Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39KOs) told Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe during Wednesday’s edition of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on FS1. “Some fans still doubt who won the fight.
“I still believe I deserved to win. But like I said, I respect the judges. It’s why we want the rematch though; people have a lot of question marks in their minds.”
Pacquiao is 4-1 since that night, the lone loss coming in a legitimate scoring travesty as he conceded his welterweight title to then-unbeaten Jeff Horn in a highly questionable decision in July 2017. Most recently, the Filipino southpaw scored a landslide victory over former four-division titlist Adrien Broner this past January, also at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The win over Broner was Pacquiao’s first fight since signing with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). The move made sense for a number of reasons, namely the number of welterweights currently aligned with Haymon as well as his longstanding relationship with his most famous client in Mayweather.
There still remains a dangerous task ahead, as Pacquiao attempts to become a four-time welterweight titlist. To do so he will have to bump off Thurman (29-0, 22KOs), who is unbeaten and has held a full version of the title for more than four years.
“This fight is really fun for me,” Pacquiao insists. “I’m really excited and motivated for this fight. I don’t like my opponent telling me the same thing all of the time.”
One thing Pacquiao has continued to tell anyone who will listen following his May 2015 loss to Mayweather is that he wants to do it again.
Mayweather hasn’t quite shown as much interest, nor does he really need to look that—or any other—way.
The unbeaten former five-division champion cleared in the vicinity of $250 million for that event alone amidst a boxing career which has earned him more money than any other boxer in history. He’s fought just twice since that night, a 12-round win over Andre Berto in Sept. 2015—at the time, his intended swan song—and then returning two years later to knock out UFC superstar and boxing debutant Conor McGregor in Aug. 2017.
Mayweather and Pacquiao teased the boxing world last September, sharing social media posts in alleging a rematch was forthcoming. It’s as close as there came to any significant talk regarding such a fight, although Pacquiao has a theory as to why that’s the case.
“I think he’s scared (to fight again),” Pacquiao firmly believes. “He keeps avoiding me, (and will keep avoiding) especially when I win this fight in July.
“But you never know, maybe he will come back.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox