Danny Flexen explores who could be in the opposite corner when Manny Pacquiao has his next fight
After a sterling decision victory last week over Keith Thurman, one that netted the Super WBA belt at welter, Manny Pacquiao and his team indicated the legendary multi-weight world champion may not return to the ring until 2020. Amir Khan, who had previously claimed the Filipino legend’s team had already agreed a Saudi Arabia clash for November, declared himself mistaken. So who will be in the opposite corner when the Senator does come back?
Still a huge possibility, whether in Saudi - where the money on offer is especially attractive - or the US. Khan’s status was harmed somewhat by the abject defeat to Terence Crawford in April, but his recent annihilation of Billy Dib showed, if nothing else, the Brit remains of interest, especially to Asian and Middle Eastern audiences.
This has been mooted already and Garcia, who has KOd Khan and only lost tight verdicts to Thurman and current WBC welterweight champ Shawn Porter, looked good in destroying an overmatched Adrian Granados in April. His dad Angel would certainly make the pre-fight interesting with his verbal sparring against Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach.
Winner of Porter vs Spence
This would secure three of the four major welterweight belts for the victor, and both Shawn Porter and Errol Spence are PBC ’stablemates’ of Manny. They are therefore easy fights to make but, as fresh and potent as Pacquiao looked against Thurman, does he really need a big, strong, rough 147lber - a description that applies to Porter and Spence - at this stage of his career? His team certainly do not think so, having declared they see this route as high-risk, low-reward.
Arguably the hardest fight to make, given Crawford is with Pacquiao’s former promoter, Top Rank. That said, the WBO welter boss won his first world title at lightweight and is a better size match for the 40-year-old. His skills and timing are superb but many have speculated that if Crawford does have an achilles heel it is speed, a quality Pacquiao still has in abundance.
Another potential foe already discussed by Team Pacquiao, Garcia did not look a genuine 147lb threat in his clear March defeat to Spence. However, that is his sole setback and, before that drubbing, Garcia was considered a pound-for-pound contender and has won world titles at four weights. Manny presents a less physical threat than Spence so perhaps this could be a competitive contest.