By Keith Idec
Freddie Roach recognizes the inherent danger in a 40-year-old boxer facing far younger, strong champions who are in their physical primes.
But if Manny Pacquiao beats Keith Thurman on July 20 in Las Vegas, Roach wouldn’t turn down another welterweight title unification fight against Errol Spence Jr. The 29-year-old Spence appears more formidable than Thurman at this point in their careers, yet Pacquiao wants to continue fighting top opponents in pay-per-view events that’ll pay him eight-figure purses.
“If we get offered someone like Errol Spence, or one of those tougher guys coming up, I’ll think twice about it,” Roach told BoxingScene.com. “But the thing is, we won’t say no because we will fight anybody. We wanna be the best, so we won’t turn guys like that down. If we can’t beat guys like that, then we might have to retire. Until that happens, we’ll fight.”
Spence (25-0, 21 KOs), the IBF 147-pound champion, is expected to oppose WBC champ Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) in his next fight. Spence-Porter likely will take place sometime in September.
If Pacquiao and Spence win their upcoming matches, they would be the two welterweight champions remaining who are affiliated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Spence, a powerful southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, still would be a sizeable favorite against Pacquiao, even if the Filipino icon beats Thurman next month.
Pacquiao attended Spence’s last fight, a 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over Mikey Garcia on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Roach indicated that Pacquiao went to that fight thinking more about boxing Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) later this year, but Spence-Pacquiao generated more interest in its aftermath because Spence beat Garcia so soundly.
“There’s been a lot of talk about that, because [Pacquiao attended Spence’s] last fight,” Roach said. “But that was really just kind of luck. It wasn’t planned. I know that for a fact. It turned out to be a good seller, though, because a lot of people are interested now in those two fighting at this point.”
The 12-round WBA welterweight championship match between Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) will headline a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.