According to reports, the tentatively, somewhat possible, June 5 welterweight title clash between WBO champ Terence Crawford and WBA champion in recess Manny Pacquiao in Abu Dhabi has fallen apart, supposedly due to the funding never coming through.
According to common sense, though, Pacquiao-Crawford was NEVER going to happen.
How many times does Bob Arum have to talk about mystery money men in the Middle East eager to bankroll big-ticket boxing events, but who never seem to come through before people start to explore the possibility that there were no Middle East money men?
Terence Crawford, who’s been aching for a blockbuster matchup, should’ve seen this coming. Odds are pretty good that a Manny Pacquiao fight was never a real possibility.
Some of Pacquiao’s own people were skeptical of this fight as well, shooting down rumors and keeping things real with only tepid “it might happen” talk.
Like Crawford, Pacquiao is also aching for a big-fight return bout to close out the final chapter of a legendary 25+ year career. The 42-year-old boxing Senator last fought in July of 2019, beating Keith Thurman via split decision to prove that he still belonged among the elite of the competitive welterweight division.
Reading between the lines, Manny was never too keen on fighting Crawford. Years of not wanting to address the possibility and a recent hardline $40 million purse demand kind of prove that.
But now, from the smoldering ashes of Pacquiao-Crawford there arises a brand new rumor of a big-fight option for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
According to ESPN Knockout, “advanced negotiations” are happening for a Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence title bout for July.
There’s nothing concrete to lend credence to this and no confirmation or denial yet by anyone “in the know” from either side, but the idea of this happening is certainly tantalizing. If Pacquiao wanted to create a bang with his comeback fight, this one would certainly accomplish that.
Spence, aside from being the WBC and IBF welterweight champ, is also a bigger money draw than Terence Crawford with a better history of pay-per-view sales. The general feeling was that Spence would next go after Yordenis Ugas, who was recently awarded the full WBA welterweight title after the belt was stripped from Pacquiao due to inactivity. But a Pacquiao clash would be huge for the 31-year-old Texas native and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him drop everything and grasp at the opportunity while it presents itself.
Beyond Spence and the dwindling, last gasp, long shot possibility of a Crawford bout, there are standby fights for a returning Pacquiao. Mikey Garcia is probably the biggest name of the “also-rans,” unless, of course, the idea of a Conor McGregor bout resurfaces. There’s also the possibility that Pacquiao may target Ugas before Spence, seeking to regain his world title and bring it into a Spence clash later in the year.
Whatever the case, a decision has to be made soon if a summer comeback is going to happen. All of this Covid downtime (and the downtime before that) has been frustrating for Pacquiao fans and has probably been more than a bit frustrating for the man, himself.
But as time goes by and the period of inactivity grows longer, there’s a greater possibility that Manny’s comeback opponent will have to be a softer touch or that, maybe, there simply won’t be anymore fights at all.