Boxing

Pacquiao: Light-Hearted and Pressure-Free Ahead of Spence Clash

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If you caught the recent video of Manny Pacquiao on FightHype.com, you saw the very portrait of a man not under intense pressure.

In the video, posted Monday morning, Pacquiao is putting on a karaoke show for fans on social media and even taking requests from followers. Looking trim and already in fighting shape, the multi-division former world champ, just about three weeks removed from a huge clash with two-belt 147 lb. champ Errol Spence Jr., appears to not have a care in the world. And, really, why would he?

This upcoming August 21 challenge against Spence is about as close as Manny Pacquiao has come to a no-lose proposition fight in a very long time.

The fact of the matter is that nobody would come down too hard on the Filipino icon if he lost to a fighter in Spence, eleven years his junior, at the very top of his game and ranked as the consensus no. 1 welterweight in the world. Pacquiao’s legacy is set. It’s been set a long time ago, actually. Win, lose, or draw on the 21st, Manny walks away a hero, a legend, and a very, very wealthy man with a comfortable second half of his life ahead of him.

So, there’s no “must-win” pressure on Manny for this fight. Of course, he WANTS to win. The competitor in him will always push to win and he’ll always crave that post-victory high. But there are no dire consequences for a loss. In most eyes, he’s already a winner for aiming so high, against such a tough opponent, in this last phase of his career.

On the other side of things, however, Spence should be feeling the pressure.

The 31-year-old Texan is already a star and a two-belt world champ, earning most everyone’s respect in the boxing business. A victory over Pacquiao, though, potentially means taking a huge step forward to that next level of success. It means going from a boxing star to a crossover, mainstream star.

On the flip side, a loss to Pacquiao would be devastating. Spence would lose everything he’s worked to achieve over his last nine years as a pro– the titles, the acclaim, and his standing as a high-end main stage main-eventer. He could– and would– rebound and probably become a world champ again, but things would never really be the same. Just ask Keith Thurman what a rough loss to Pacquiao can do to an undefeated world champ with eyes on crossover success (Spoiler Alert: It’s a total career-staller and self-esteem wrecker).

To some extent, even a win for Spence would only be a true success under certain, fairly specific conditions. A close split decision victory would produce a “he barely got past the old man” response from critics. And if there’s any controversy at all, Spence will bear the burden of a tainted outcome.

Anything short of a dominant victory would be considered a poor showing from Spence who, by all boxing logic, should barrel through an opponent who made his pro debut way back in 1995– the same year Spence started kindergarten.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, just has to put in a gritty, noble effort against Spence– win or lose– to come away a winner and, possibly, move on to one final blockbuster fight before easing into the Hall of Fame . A loss would do nothing but produce a “but he had the guts to take on the best” response from media and fans.

So, as Spence labors under the pressure of facing the biggest contest of his career, by far, Pacquiao can afford to take some time off and croon on social media, all smiles and warm regards for his fans.

A light-hearted, mentally rested Manny Pacquiao could be the toughest Manny Pacquiao Errol Spence could ever face.

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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

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