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Pacquiao vs. Spence: The Early Scouting Report

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The August 21 welterweight battle of Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. is still more than two months away, but the anticipation is already intense.

The WBC/IBF 147 lb. champ from Texas, Spence, is the early betting favorite with odds ranging from -300 to -350 and will enter the ring eleven years younger than Pacquiao. He’s also regarded as the fresher, stronger, and naturally bigger fighter of the two.

Pacquiao, however, is Pacquiao. The legendary Filipino icon is regarded as an 8-division world champ and, may or may not bring with him the WBA welterweight title that was initially taken from him due to his inactivity. Although the betting underdog at about +250, most knowledgeable boxing people regard him as a very live underdog.

So, with the buzz already loud, here’s a look at both fighters, their strengths and weaknesses, and how this big upcoming battle may play out.

Pacquiao

Strengths:

The 26-year veteran is now, what he’s been throughout most of his legendary run. Pacquiao is awkwardness wrapped in unorthodoxy. From his extreme southpaw stance to his herky-jerky ring movements to his measured aggression, backed by quick hands and a wide, varied arsenal of offensive weapons, he’s made his fame turning elite-level fighters into tentative pickers and pawers.

Although clearly past his prime at 42 years of age, Pacquiao offsets the years of wear on his body by coming into each fight in impeccable physical condition and with extreme motivation.

Weaknesses:

Despite being in great shape for a 42-year-old fighter, he’s still 42 and carries with him the realities of 26 years as a pro who’s been in many, many battles.

A somewhat slowed-down Manny has done less counter-striking at frustrated foes in recent years. No longer 100% confident in his ability to get in, get off, and get out without taking return fire, he now stays on the outside more and rarely takes the risk of planting his feet for something big. His awkwardness and the remains of his natural athletic ability have been enough to see him past all but Floyd Mayweather in recent years and smart matchmaking has also been to his benefit.

Spence

Strengths:

Spence is a physically strong, technically-sound southpaw with an offensive mindset and supreme confidence in his abilities.

He establishes pace and space in his bouts with a thudding left jab that also works to set up a heavy right hook and follow-up left. He also works the body especially well. His nearly flawless technique and his ability to get leverage on every shot in his repertoire, combined with his confidence and focus, make him an outstanding offensive fighter.

Weaknesses:

“The Truth” has shown some vulnerability to those who pressure him, rush him, and make him fight outside of his comfort zone. Against those challenges, he has sometimes gone slightly off-script to beat them at their own game.

There’s also the concern whether his horrific car crash in the fall of 2019 and just one fight since then have put him in a spot where he’ll never quite be at his best again.

The Fight

On paper, Spence has most of the physical advantages and one could argue that career momentum is 100% in his favor. But Pacquiao is the type of fighter who could throw Spence off his game and expose some of his few weaknesses.

If Manny can use his legs, potshot from varying angles, and generally keep Spence from getting too comfortable, he has a solid chance of picking apart the younger fighter and taking the win.

Spence’s jab and raw strength will be hard for a past-prime Pacquiao to deal with, though. The Desoto, Texas native is bolder and stronger than Keith Thurman, who Pacquiao outpointed in his last fight, and will press Manny like nobody has in recent years.

There is a path to victory for Pacquiao, but he’s going to have to walk through considerable fire to get there. The question is whether he can take what Spence will dish out. Most are assuming that he can’t.

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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

22 comments

  • XilefZetroc says:

    I don’t see anything about this article that is offensive. It’s the way he sees it but it seems these so called Boxing Experts disrespects Manny’s chances of winning . Surf at the internet now and you’ll know how disrespectful they are to Manny. You would even read if Manny signs a death waver for this fight..I’ve been watching boxing for more than 30 years now and most of my prediction is from 75 to 80 percent correct. If you ask me, I don’t see anything special about Spence at all. I mean, look at his moves, it’s something you usually see in a boxing. he don’t have floyd’s style, he don’t have roy jones style, he don’t have the lomachencko style and much more he don’t have the pacquiao style..so what’s the big deal about him other than he’s young and big. There’s only one thing i worried about Manny and that is his stamina because during his last fight, he chose to relax and rest during the middle rounds in which it’s something he have not done in most of his fights. Maybe that is age really but hopefully his long rest able to refresh his body. Other than that I see Manny winning unanimously without even a single doubt as long as it will not be rigged. you know, spence is an american so the big possibility is that Manny will be robbed..If this fight happens during Manny’s younger days, it’s absolutely a massacre and very much one sided..and because i see it that way during Manny’s youthful days, even past his prime, I still see him winning convincingly. The result should be Manny by Unanimous decision but because Spence is an American, I can still see Manny winning by Split or Majority Decision or in the worst case scenario a draw or a win by Spence by split or Majority but will be labelled as one of the biggest robbery of all time.. P.S. …..there’s a very big chance that this will become a robbery because they don’t want to consider someone who’s not an American to be argued as the G.O.A.T

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