Even on the heels of a two-year ring absence and seemingly nearing the end of his incredible career, Manny Pacquiao still wants to make every ring appearance count.
The legendary former eight division champion and future Hall of Famer could have selected just about any opponent for his long-awaited comeback. Instead, he chose to pursue the best welterweight in the world for his next assignment.
Philippines’ Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) aims to become boxing’s first-ever five-time welterweight titlist as he faces unified WBC/IBF champ Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs, with their bout to headline a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event slated for August 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“There was a lot of opportunity to pick… not an easy fight, but a much easier fight compared to Errol Spence,” Pacquiao noted to Fox Sports’ Heidi Androl when asked during a press conference at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. “I decided to pick Errol Spence because I wanted to give a good fight to the fans.
“I’m a real fighter.”
That much has long ago been established by Pacquiao, whose résumé reads like a who’s-who of the absolute best of the past two generations. The 42-year-old has fought 32 times versus current, former or future titlists (excluding secondary titlists), including 11 versus fighters who were since elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The upcoming bout versus Spence will mark the first for Pacquiao since outpointing then-unbeaten Keith Thurman to win the WBA welterweight title in July 2019. Spence enters his sixth defense as a welterweight title following an 11th round knockout of Kell Brook in May 2017 and second as a unified titlist since outpointing Shawn Porter to add the WBC belt to his collection following their September 2019 thriller.
Spence has since turned away former two-division champ Danny Garcia in his most recent outing last December 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The bout was his first since recovering from injuries sustained in an October 2019 single car crash, handling Garcia to further establish himself as the leading welterweight in the world today.
“Errol Spence is undefeated, young and dedicated to his career,” notes Pacquiao, who is currently a +200 underdog according to BetMGM sportsbook. “He is not an easy opponent. He’s the kind of fighter you never underestimate.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox