Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) made his U.S. comeback two weeks ago, winning a unanimous decision over the flashy, but very inactive, Adrien Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
The Filipino legend proved that even at the age of 40, he still has a lot left in the tanks. He overwhelmed the 29-year-old Broner with punches, throwing 270 more and landing 52 more.
Since then, the inevitable question of ‘Who’s next ?’ has been asked by boxing fans and the media alike.
Currently the WBA “regular” champion, and recently signed to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, Manny Pacquiao has no shortage of fights on the table.
Keith “One-Time” Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) is fresh off a victory over the rugged Josesito Lopez this past Saturday. The fight was supposed to be an easy comeback fight for Thurman and was going according to plan, until the seventh round when Lopez landed a massive left hook that had Thurman almost out on his feet.
Thurman was forced to use his footwork and counter punches to get the victory and apart from the near disastrous seventh round, Thurman looked solid. He then wasted no time in calling out Pacquiao in the post-fight interview.
Thurman currently holds the WBA ‘super’ title (the real WBA title), so it makes sense for him to fight Pacquiao next. While he may get criticized for “avoiding” Errol Spence Jr, it’s easy to forget Thurman holds victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. He has the best resume at welterweight, and a fight with the Filipino icon would be a huge.
Errol Spence Jr. / Mikey Garcia Winner
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) and Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) are slated to fight in Dallas on March 16th for Spence’s IBF welterweight title.
Although it’s a fight between two top notch fighters, it is widely expected that Spence’s size will be too much for the smaller Garcia to overcome. After all, Spence is a natural welterweight and Garcia started fighting at 126 pounds.
A fight between Pacquiao and the winner of this fight would still prove to be highly intriguing. It could be a true passing of the torch fight where either Spence or Garcia explode onto the mainstream by making their name off Pacquiao, or it could be a fight where Pacquiao continues to cement his legacy by beating yet another top young boxer.
A win over either Spence or Garcia would surely put Pacquiao back in the pound-for-pound list and immediately put him in the discussions for the best welterweight in the world, even at the age of 40.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Ah yes, the most rumored fight at the current moment. All it took was Pacquiao and Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) to shake hands at the Warriors-Lakers game for the boxing world to start talking.
Both fighters already fought once back in May 2015. It was an event so big it shattered every single record from most pay-per-view buys, to highest gate. It was reported that the fight generated over $500 million in revenue.
The fight itself however, did not live up the hype. Although not expected to be Gatti-Ward in terms of action, the public believed it would at least be a highly competitive affair. Instead, Floyd took most of the rounds by just doing slightly more. Floyd spent the majority of the time peppering Pacquiao with a few jabs and would occasionally throw right hand. It was a far cry from his exquisite performances in the past, such as the Canelo fight in 2013.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, insisted on coming forward in a straight line hoping to catch Floyd against the ropes with flurries. No cutting off the ring, no punches from odd angles that he was so known for.
After the fight it was reported that Pacquiao had suffered a shoulder injury during training. He fought injured and eventually got surgery. I guess that’s one of the story lines the promoters could use if the fight gets signed this year.
Other possible options for Pacquiao include Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) and the winner of Porter-Ugas. However, those fights don’t quite the same appeal and I would bank on Pacquiao’s next opponent being one of the previously mentioned fighters.
Pacquiao got off to a great start in 2019. It will be interesting to see if he ends the year with several belts at the top of the welterweight rankings, or if boxing sees the rise of another star who has ‘Manny Pacquiao’ in his win column.