Around an hour ago news broke that Filipino living legend Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) would return to the ring on August 21st to take part in in his 72nd professional bout, and look to add another top tier name to his amazing record.
The iconic "Pacman" was announced as returning against unbeaten American Welterweight star Errol Spence Jr (27-0, 21), in one of the biggest Welterweight bouts in years, with the men to clash in Las Vegas. Not only that but the bout will be aired by FOX, on PPV, in what is being sold as a Welterweight unification bout, with the WBC and IBF champion, Spence, taking on the WBA "in Recess" champion Pacquiao.
For the 42 year old Pacquiao this will be his first bout in more than 2 years, with his last contest coming in July 2019 when he defeated Keith Thurman to claim the WBA "Super" title. Since then rumours of his next bout have swirled, with various opponents said to have been secured before the bouts became "vapourbouts" and vanished without a trace. They included bouts with Conor McGregor, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia, with that bout said to have been a done deal by Pacquiao's business manager.
As for Spence the bout will be his first of 2021, and his second since he was involved in a high speed motor incident. His last bout came in December 2020 when he out pointed Danny Garcia.
Aged 31 Spence has long been seen as a huge star for American boxing, and whilst he does have a solid following, he's not yet become the star that his talent perhaps deserves. That is, in part, due to not having that elite level win on his record, despite having a strong resume overall. A win over Pacquiao would potentially see him taking the torch from the Filipino, like Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr did when they beat Oscar De La Hoya, and becoming the face of American boxing.
At the moment no details of the under-card have been revealed, though the bout is likely to be Pacquiao's last, so there is some hope that it will be packed young, up and coming fighters, who could take the chance to fight in front of a huge international audience.
Earlier today Arnold Vegafria, the business manager of Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) shared an post on Instagram with a poster-style image suggesting a deal is close to being done for Pacquiao to face Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30), in Dubai. He shared the post with the caption "Soon...".
Unfortunately it's becoming harder and harder to take any Pacquiao story seriously with various plans and rumours coming across over the last 12 months, including an exhibition with Ryan Garcia, and potential bouts with Conor McGregor, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford all said to have been in the works.
If the bout does go ahead however it'll likely be a large pay day for both men, potentially before Pacquiao sails off into the boxing sunset to become a full time politician in his homeland of the Philippines.
The now 42 year old Pacquiao has been out of the ring since July 2019, when he beat Keith Thurman via split decision to claim the WBA "super" title at Welterweight, a title that was stripped from him last year due to inactivity during the pandemic and then handed to Yordenis Ugas as the WBA did WBA things. He certainly doesn't need the sport though one final bumper pay day may be enough to get him in the ring one more time.
As for Garcia, who first spoke about this potential bout in early 2020, the bout would be his first since February 2020, when he beat Jessie Vargas in a relatively competitive bout. It was also be only his second bout since losing to Errol Spence in March 2019.
With all the rumours, speculation and changing stories, it's hard to think this one will stick, but if does, the bout would likely be a safer one for Pacquiao than a bout with Spence or Crawford. Garcia is a naturally smaller man than the two Welterweight kingpins, and although still a very good fighter he doesn't appear to be half the fighter at Welterweight as he was at Super Featherweight.
Yesterday the WBA announced that Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) was no longer the WBA "super" champion at Welterweight. Instead they have made it clear they will recognise him as the WBA "champion in recess", a status typically given to a fighter who is injured or otherwise unable to fight.
As a result of this decision Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12) has been promoted from the "regular" champion to the "super" champion.
Pacquiao became the "super" champion in July 2019, when he beat Keith Thurman. He has, sadly, been inactive since then, leading to the WBA's decision.
Thankfully if you're reading this you're probably a boxing fan, but if you feel like giving yourself a headache try explaining that to a non-boxing fan.
Sadly though this does leave the WBA in a position where they appear to lack inconsistency. For example WBA Featherweight "super" champion Leo Santa Cruz hasn't defended his title since February 2019 and WBA regular Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales last defended his belt in May 2019*.
It's rare we'll agree with the WBA, and the decision to determine Pacquiao as the champion in recess is actually the right idea. But then again Pacquiao is one of the few fighters in the sport who doesn't need a belt. And lets not ignore the fact that the decision was almost certainly made just so the WBA can collect another sanctioning fee in early 2021, and have a Champion in Recess, Super champion, Regularly Champions and Gold champion. Further muddying in the water in what it means to be a world champion.
*Canizales had a title defense that fell apart at short notice in 2020
Tomorrow we'll see the WBA Welterweight title being unified as "regular" champion Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39) takes on "super" champion Keith Thurman (29-0-0-1, 22) at the MGM Grand. The bout is the highlight of the weekend and is clearly the most high profile bout of the next few weeks.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout and both men made weight with no issue.
After some initial mix up, with Pacquiao stepping on to the scales first but not being weighed, Thurman weighed in at 146.5lbs. He seemed confident, relaxed and like a fighter who was filled with self belief that this was his destiny. After years of calling for a big fight he had now landed one.
Pacquiao would then be weighed, after the earlier faux pas, and would himself weigh in at 146.5lbs and he looked his usual calm self, smiling for the cameras, as opposed to Thurman who looked a touch overly serious.
Both men looked in amazing condition, and although there was obvious age difference between the two, and wear and tear, both looked really up for tomorrows bout.
Related - Pacquiao looks to add Thurman's name to legendary resume!
Earlier today the former WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Jayar Inson (18-2, 12)was given the bigger opportunity of his career, as he landed a surprise chance on tomorrow's card headlined by Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39) and Keith Thurman (29-0-0-1, 22).
The exciting Inson has been put on to the show at the 11th hour to face former world champion Sergey Lipinet's (15-1, 11), in what could end up being a fight of the night contender. Inson has got the opportunity due to Lipinet's original opponent, John Molina Jr (30-8, 24), pulling out today with a back injury.
Although Inson has gotten this bout late it is worth noting that the Filipino was already scheduled for the show, albeit in a much lesser bout against Mahonri Montes (35-9-1, 24). Whilst the change of opponent is a drastic one, Inson should be in good shape and hungry to prove a point, and prove that he shouldn't have been overlooked for the card originally.
Whilst relatively unknown outside of Asia, in fact Inson is 0-2 outside outside of the region, he is seen as a dangerous fight on regional scene, and has notched notable wins in Japan, against Ryota Yada, and Malaysia, against Terry Tzouramanis. He will also be coming in to this bout on the back a loss on his US debut, a split decision defeat to Jonathan Steele back in January, on the under-card of Manny Pacquiao's win over Adrien Broner.
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