Pacquiao vs Spence and the MPBL malaise
Errol Spence Jr. has a Plan B in place in case Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao plays hard to get and turns down a welterweight unification fight with him.
The 29-year-old Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) will face Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs), the two-division champion from Philadelphia in the event Pacquiao demurs.
According to boxingscene.com, Spence would prefer to tangle with the fighting Philippine senator (62-7-2, 39 KOs), because “it’s a higher profile fight against a legendary opponent who would help him make more money than if he fights Garcia.”
Spence, the IBF/WBC welterweight champion who earned a split decision over Shawn Porter at Staples Center in Los Angeles last Saturday, told boxingscene.com that if “I can’t get Pacquiao … or nothing happens with Terence [Crawford] or anybody else, then we’ll fight Danny Garcia … We’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Pacquiao, the WBA super welterweight champ, has not shut the door on a showdown with Amir Khan, who has been chasing his former sparring partner for a fight for several years.
The Filipino ring icon, who was in Dubai recently to play an exhibition game with executives of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), said his next bout could be with Khan in the Emirate’s newly opened Coca-Cola Arena.
A big, fat “no comment” was all I got from Aquiles Zonio, Pacquiao’s public information officer recently.
For the record, I asked a couple of questions in light of Quinito Henson’s column in the Philippine Star that the MPBL, the senator’s pet basketball league, is in disarray.
Zonio texted the classic flak’s cop-out when pressed if it was true that to date, the MPBL, according to a source, has lost way more than the P300 million Pacman had reportedly told sports editors during a meeting after his fight with Adrien Broner in January.
Henson wrote about the unpaid wages of staff, friction at the top of the league and corruption on the ground by way of game-fixing that contributes to the league’s malaise.
Although not substantiating his claim, the source said the league is wallowing in red ink because the senator shells out almost everything for team owners—who are mostly his friends—to pay for franchise fees, the salaries of coaches and players, and for the television broadcast of league games.
Pacman did not create the league as a money-maker but as a self-sustaining enterprise to bring jobs to the now 31 cities with MPBL franchises in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Of course, the league’s main mantra is to elevate the game of its players to the next level. But the source said the MPBL could as well be part of an expensive organizational dry run to prepare for the senator’s possible presidential candidacy.
President Duterte, Pacquiao’s fellow Mindanaoan, has openly endorsed boxing’s only eight-division world titlist as his successor when his term expires in 2023.
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