Justin Fortune, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao, does not buy the notion that Errol Spence Jr. was not permanently damaged in some way from his harrowing car accident in 2019.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) was slated to take on Spence, the WBC/IBF welterweight champion, on Aug. 21 in a pay-per-view event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
However, Spence withdrew from the contest after an eye injury was discovered.
He was replaced by WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas.
Spence was driving one late morning in October of 2019, when he crossed over a median and crashed his Ferrari. Incredibly, Spence, who was eventually charged with DWI, seemed to have escaped any serious injuries, save for facial abrasions, broken teeth, a concussion, and a fractured jaw.
However, Fortune is surely in the minority with his opinion. Despite brushing up against catastrophe, Spence, by most measures, seems to be his usual durable self in the ring. The Desoto, Texas native drew rave reviews when he thoroughly outpointed Danny Garcia last December in what was his first fight since the accident.
Still, Fortune remains a skeptic.
“Errol’s not the same guy,” Fortune said.
“I don’t think he’s the same guy after the accident,” he continued. “You don’t walk away from that f------ accident without lifelong injuries.”
Moreover, Fortune is not sold on Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) being the devastating puncher that he has been made out to be.
“I don’t see Errol being as much of a puncher as everybody says,” said Fortune. “Danny Garcia never pulled the trigger. He came away with a f------- black eye in 12 rounds. [Pacquiao] will send you to the hospital. You don’t go to post-fight press conferences. You’re in the hospital getting checked up. It’s the difference."
As for his client, Fortune believes he is not far from being in prime condition. Fortune said he has been focusing on fine-tuning Pacquiao’s natural explosiveness.
“More explosion,” Fortune continued. “More plyometrics. Need to get him up under his toes again and start to move like that. Speed, explosion.
“He’s our sport’s [Michael] Jordan. He’s a freak of nature. Simple as that.”