Two decades since his first US fight, Pacquiao still going up against the best
Much was said about Manny Pacquiao’s two-year hiatus that little attention was given to a much larger fact: He is now prepping for a mega-fight 20 years since his first fight in the United States.
“I never imagined being at this point now, when I started my career. Especially to be here now and still fighting the best. It’s truly a gift that I’ve received,” said Pacquiao on Wednesday.
He just held a media workout for his Aug. 21 fight in Las Vegas against unbeaten American champion Errol Spence Jr., for the latter’s WBC and IBF welterweight crowns.
“I could have fought several easy opponents. I picked the best opponent because I want to add more to my legacy and accomplishments. I have to prove that I’m not done yet,” added the 42-year-old, eight-division champ.
Twenty years ago, Pacquiao debuted in the United States as a substitute challenger for the late Lehlo Ledwaba, the South African champ who just recently passed reportedly due to COVID-19.
That spectacular technical knockout win launched Pacquiao’s career. It also marked the start of his famed partnership with trainer Freddie Roach.
“We took this fight because we think that Errol Spence Jr. is one of the best fighters out there. I’ve talked with Manny throughout the years and he’s always said that he wants to be the best at what he does,” said Roach during the same media workout.
He has been in Pacquiao’s corner for the past 36 fights, and no doubt knows Pacquiao by heart.
“There’s no sense in getting in there with some popular fighter who’s no good. We want to fight the best. I congratulated Manny when he chose to fight Errol,” he added.
Despite the disparity in size and age, Pacquiao feels he has a built-in advantage over his 31-year-old opponent.
“I’m expecting a good fight. Spence is an aggressive fighter and I know that we can create a lot of action in the ring for all of the fans watching,” said Pacquiao. “I have lots of advantages in this fight. My speed and power, along with my strategy and experience, are all advantages for me.”
Spence stands four-inches taller and holds a five-inch edge in reach. He’s got a reputation for landing big, clean punches.
“We know that when we get inside, we have to be smart getting back outside. It has to be quick combinations and then out right away,” said Roach. “I told Manny that knocking down Keith Thurman early gave him a lot of momentum in that fight and I’d like to see that again in this fight.”
With only 15 days before the fight, Team Pacquiao appears to have it all figured out.
It’s up to Spence to spring a surprise.