When multi-division world champ Manny Pacquiao beat highly-regarded titlist Keith Thurman back in July, it became official that the 40-year-old fighting senator from the Philippines was NOT a “done” fighter looking for a back door to retirement and a few soft-touch paydays on the way out.
Manny proved that he was still “for real,” and the corresponding pressure would soon be on him to stay in the deep waters of a deep and talented welterweight division. But what do you do when you’re a past-your-prime star who may still “have it” but may not have enough of “it” to go too deep for too long? Three-time former opponent and two-division world champ Timothy Bradley stated that Pacquiao would do well to avoid the best of the best ion the division. “Any of those top welterweights is a good matchup for Pacquiao,” Bradley recently told media. Experts were also advising Manny to stay away from Thurman not too long ago.
“Porter is an excellent matchup for him. Spence is a great matchup for him. Personally, if I had Manny Pacquiao, I would keep him away from those guys. I would keep him away from a guy like Errol Spence. I would keep him away from a guy like Shawn Porter as well. I’d keep him away from Terence Crawford, all those top guys.”Two-Division World Champion Timothy Bradley commented on Manny Pacquiao.
Here’s a look at Pacquiao’s next-fight options (in no particular order) with a letter grade attached to each, taking into consideration salability, risk, and reward.
Errol Spence Jr.
The 29-year-old Spence just may be the best welterweight in the world, and, after a win that saw him add Shawn Porter’s WBC belt to his IBF strap, that designation may be official. A recent car crash that sent him to the hospital with bumps, bruises, and lacerations will apparently not stall his career much at all. Evidently, a Pacquiao clash is, at the very least, makeable.
The question for Manny will be whether the risk of facing an offensive powerhouse in his prime like Spence is worth the reward potentially available to him. Grade: A
Crawford is the only welterweight who could legitimately dispute Errol Spence’s no. 1 status at welterweight. The 30-year-old is skilled, crafty, athletically gifted, and fiercely (sometimes cruelly) competitive. Currently unable to find opposition due to boxing business roadblocks, the former unified 4-belt junior welterweight champ and lightweight titlist is itching for significant, legacy-defining challenges.
Rumor has had it that past efforts had been made to keep Pacquiao away from the fire Crawford brings. Could things have changed now with Pacquiao having bested another young lion in Thurman? Business obstacles would have to be hurdled, but no deal is beyond hope in boxing when there’s enough money involved. Grade: A
In his recent spirited loss to Errol Spence, Porter’s stock has actually risen. The 31-year-old buzzsaw has faced some of the very best in the division and, despite coming up short against most, has been competitive against them all. Porter-Pacquiao would be a risky physical task for the Filipino icon that would likely earn him less money through pay-per-view sales than what he could make against the current top two at welterweight. Grade: C-
Garcia’s one-sided shutout loss to Errol Spence in his welterweight debut earlier this year stopped the career progress of the former 4-division world champ cold. Pacquiao vs. Garcia has the potential to be a tremendous clash. As a result, this fight is the most winnable bout listed for Pacquiao. It might be a tough sell to the public after Garcia turned away from the 147 lb. Table so decisively. Grade: C
Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
Floyd Mayweather Of course, this mega-bucks rematch is the biggest money fight of the bunch, and obviously, the one Team Pacquiao is most trying to bag. With a sizable chunk of a $600 million revenue, the event WILL tend to draw your attention for a return bout. Mayweather’s interest in part 2 has been non-existent until recently. There does seem to be some movement towards making this fight happen. For this bout, Pacquiao stands to make more money than he would for any other contest, but he also risks a second loss to his archrival “Money” Mayweather. Grade: A+
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