Pessimists point to Manny Pacquiao’s two-year layoff as a potential problem prior to his showdown with Errol Spence Jr.
The 42-year-old Pacquiao perceives his long break from boxing as just what he needed to feel like a refreshed fighter once he returned to serious training late in May for this extremely challenging welterweight title fight. The Filipino legend hasn’t boxed since he defeated then-unbeaten Keith Thurman by split decision in their 12-round, 147-pound championship match in July 2019, yet that didn’t prevent him from accepting perhaps the most dangerous assignment possible for his long-awaited return to the ring.
“It’s a good thing for me that I have off for two years [from] boxing because I’ve been in boxing how many years?,” Pacquiao told FOX Sports’ Heidi Androl during a press conference Sunday in Los Angeles. “I started boxing since I was 12 years old and until now, so it’s good for me that I have a layoff for two years. So, when I get back to training, I feel like hungry to focus on and dedicated to my training and make sure that I’m 100-percent conditioned, and that’s my drive.”
The taller, younger Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, will defend his IBF and WBC welterweight titles when he opposes Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) on August 21. The William Hill sports book lists Spence as slightly more than a 2-1 favorite over Pacquiao in advance of a 12-round title fight that’ll headline a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
A rejuvenated Pacquiao returned to trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood early in July to intensify training for the Spence fight. The aged veteran takes a different approach to preparing for fights these days, however, than he did during his physical prime and beyond.
“Well, I’ll tell you this – it’s different than what I did before because when you’re young, when you push yourself in the day training, you can recover [from] that overnight,” Pacquiao said. “But when you’re like this age, it’s you need your body time to recover. You cannot push, push, push. Like when you push this day, and tomorrow light training, not too heavy. And then the next day you can push again like that. But before, when I was young, [I was] like every day pushing, pushing to the limit like that.”
Pacquiao has fought just three times in the four years since his controversial loss to Australia’s Jeff Horn in July 2017. One year elapsed before Pacquiao fought after Horn upset him by unanimous decision, but he beat Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Thurman in the two years thereafter.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.