Freddie Roach doesn’t expect Manny Pacquaio to box before the end of 2020.
The Filipino legend’s trainer keeps in contact with him and gets the sense that Pacquiao’s responsibilities as a senator in the Philippines are consuming his time amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Roach anticipates Pacquiao will return to the ring sometime in 2021, but they haven’t established a timetable for exactly when the WBA “super” welterweight champion will fight for the first time since July 2019.
“He won’t fight this year,” Roach told BoxingScene.com. “But if this ever goes away – and I’m not sure it will because it’s getting worse and worse, not better and better – but I think Manny will fight once or twice more before he becomes the president of his country. And then he will retire.”
The 41-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) hasn’t fought since he topped previously unbeaten Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) by split decision in their 12-round, 147-pound title fight 13 months ago at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. That impressive victory appeared to push Pacquiao into position for high-profile, profitable fights against Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia or Errol Spence Jr., but none of those bouts are imminent, according to Roach.
“He will fight again, I feel, and from when I’ve talked to him, he wants to fight once or twice more,” Roach said. “But the thing is, it could be anywhere from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia, anywhere. They were talking about Mikey Garcia and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s the perfect fight for Manny.’ But I don’t think we’ll really know until this [pandemic] is over.”
Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s former promoter, told BoxingScene.com and other outlets recently that he’d like to match Pacquiao against Crawford on November 14. Putting together Pacquiao-Crawford would require an international investor to supply a sizeable site fee to help fund that fight in a country outside the United States.
Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, is more likely to square off against England’s Kell Brook (39-2, 27 KOs) in his next fight. Negotiations are ongoing between Arum and Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, to have Crawford defend his WBO welterweight title against Brook, a former IBF 147-pound champ.
Spence (26-0, 21 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, is scheduled to fight Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) in a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event November 21. The winner of that 12-round fight for Spence’s IBF and WBC welterweight championships would at least be an option for Pacquiao whenever Pacquiao comes back.
For now, Pacquiao’s focus remains on the coronavirus crisis.
“He told me that [the pandemic is] worse there than it is here,” Roach said. “He can’t leave the house because he’s a senator, and his kids are all in the house. It’s just a bad time for maybe everybody at this point.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.