Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao in 2021: Ranking and Rating the Opposition

As we limp into 2021 after a rough, Covid-battered 2020, two major questions for hardcore fight fans and welterweight enthusiasts are: Who will be the next opponent for Manny Pacquiao fight and when will he fight again?

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao:

There’s not much to go by in the former. The next opponent for Manny Pacquiao – at the current time – is nothing but rumors and buzzes which are all over the place there. We do have a general idea, however, about who he may fight. Here’s a subjective look at which fighters are most likely to get the Pacquiao call in 2021 (in descending order), how likely they are to get the bout, and how they would match up with the Filipino icon.

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Josesito Lopez?

The 36-year-old Riverside Rocky is an old-school blue-collar battler who is 2-0 since very nearly stopping Keith Thurman in January of 2019. He gives everyone a tough fight and he’d definitely make for some entertaining moments against Pacquiao.  

Quality of Matchup: B-

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  C

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Jose Zepeda?

This would be the surprise choice on this list. However, the 31-year-old made big waves in his last fight, delivering a Fight of the Year winning performance against Ivan Baranchyk this past October. Although Zepeda is a junior welterweight, he could easily make the 147 lb. limit and make for an entertaining evening against Manny.

Quality of Matchup: B

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  D

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Yordenis Ugas?

The Cuban has been a half-step from the elite welterweight circle for awhile now and has recently captured a vacant, lesser version of the WBA welterweight title Pacquiao currently holds. It could be argued that his only loss since 2014– a widely disputed 2019 split decision against Shawn Porter– was no loss at all.

Quality of Matchup: C

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  D

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Danny Garcia?

Don’t necessarily count out the former two-division world champ because of his recent loss to Errol Spence. He was competitive in that bout and in his other two pro defeats as well. And, maybe just as importantly, his name still carries some weight in terms of marketability and pay-per-view sales.

Quality of Matchup: B

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  B-

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Keith Thurman?

“One Time” gave Pacquiao a good fight in their summer of 2019 bout and, it could be argued, deserves a return match. Neither Thurman nor Pacquiao have been in the ring since their encounter and, competitively, that may be an argument in favor of revisiting this pairing. Both may be a bit rusty coming into any 2021 bout.

Quality of Matchup: B

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  B-

Next Opponent for Manny Pacquiao: Amir Khan?

This one has been rumored for so long that it has to nudge itself into a list like this. Financially, Pacquiao-Khan makes tons of sense and it would be especially salable if Pacquiao’s comeback lands in Saudi Arabia or some other Middle East country. On paper, this looks to actually be a good matchup with Khan’s speed and athleticism pitted against Pacquiao’s own speed, power, and off-putting aggression.

Quality of Matchup: B+

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  B+

How About Mikey Garcia?

This is another one that’s been rumored for awhile. Garcia represents the safest “big” fight for Pacquiao at the moment and that’s why he’s a frontrunner in the Pacquiao opponent sweepstakes. Although he’s a 4-division world champ and had been a pound-for-pound favorite for awhile, Garcia has yet to make any waves at welterweight. He was completely shut down by Errol Spence last year and didn’t impress all that match in a subsequent win over Jessie Vargas.

Quality of Matchup: C+

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  A

Maybe Shawn Porter?

A tussle with the all-action Porter would probably be the most entertaining option on this list. Porter, a former sparring partner of Pacquiao’s, will come hard at Manny and has the all-around ability to push him into a Fight of the Year war.

Quality of Matchup: A+

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  B-

Terence Crawford‘s Chances

One of the big three in the welterweight division, Crawford is still regarded by many as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world (and no worse than top 3 on any reputable P4P list). The WBO world champ is skilled, multi-faceted, hardcore tough, and in possession of a real killer instinct. Pacquiao-Crawford would be a rough one in which Crawford would likely be favored to win.

Quality of Matchup: A

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  C

Errol Spence May Need to Wait

The WBC/IBF world champ is listed by most as the top dog in the deep and talented welterweight division. His recent decisive win over Danny Garcia– after a brutal career-threatening car wreck that cost him 14 months of his career– proved that “The Truth” is back 100%. Spence would be a tall hill to climb for the 42-year-old Pacquiao.

Quality of Matchup: B+

Likelihood of Getting a Pacquiao Fight:  C

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Paul Magno
Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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