Hype is a part of the boxing business. Every fight, to some degree, is hyped to the masses. It’s just a part of the sales process in the sport. But, sometimes, the hype is very appropriate. The August 21 clash between Errol Spence Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is one of those instances.
The 31-year-old Spence brings the IBF and WBC welterweight titles to the pay-per-view blockbuster, as well as his consensus no. 1 ranking in the division. The 42-year-old Pacquiao, meanwhile, brings his legend status and well-earned reputation as an all-time great to the contest. The winner walks away with everything.
A Spence win represents a passing of the torch moment for him and a boost to next-level stardom.
A Pacquiao win represents another chapter in an already overstuffed book of legendary feats and, perhaps, a fitting farewell to a Hall of Fame career.
So, given the stakes and the importance of this showdown, big, bold words are being shot out all over the internet. And most of that talk is centered around legacy, hunger, and the desire to put a hurt on one another.
“This guy [Pacquiao] sends you to the hospital,” Pacquiao’s strength & conditioning coach, Justin Fortune, recently told media.
“You don’t go to post-fight press conferences. You’re in the hospital getting checked out. That’s the difference. I don’t think Errol has as much of a punch as everyone says.
“I don’t think [Spence] is the same guy after the accident [his horrific car accident in the fall of 2019]. You don’t walk away from that f*** accident without lifelong injuries.”
Long-time Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, meanwhile, testified to media that the Filipino icon has most definitely not lost his hunger or drive.
“He hasn’t cut one corner in training camp. Not one,” asserted Roach. “He runs up the hills in Griffith Park straight to the Hollywood sign. He crunches thousands of sit-ups daily. He spars three days each week and hits every bag on the gym floor with bad intentions every day. He is still the hardest worker I have ever trained and an eager student. He wants this one more than anything. Manny isn’t training this hard to say goodbye. It’s to prove he’s still here. Philippine politics might influence when Manny hangs up his gloves. Maybe this is Manny’s last fight. But this summer, he has been training for his greatest victory, and for Manny, that is saying something. It’s the stuff that greatness is made of.”
On the Spence side of the fence, there’s been a lot of talk about retiring Manny. The Texas native has spoken several times already about sending the multi-division former world champ into retirement.
“I want to retire him but I do respect him for taking this fight and being a real fighter,” Spence told the Morning Kombat YouTube show. “He could’ve picked Joe Blow or somebody, or an MMA fighter just to get a huge paycheck. Instead, he took the biggest challenge in the division.”
“[A win over Pacquiao] will show everybody why I am one of the best fighters in the world,” Spence told Showtime’s Brian Custer during the recent Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano bout. “And it will show everybody why I am the best 147-pounder in my division.
“I think he’ll definitely retire, I think he’ll definitely retire after this fight.”
Even without the big, bold words, there’s plenty of intrigue in this welterweight title clash. With the words, though, both have an added pressure to deliver something big on the 21st. And both fighters definitely have the ability to make good on what’s expected of them.