by Eliot Stott
Now 71 fights in and over 24 years as a pro, eight weight world champion & pound-4-pound great Manny Pacquaio has endured a successful twilight period of his illustrious career, defeating 3 varied opponents who have all been successful at world level.
As well as coming out on top against 3 high level operators in Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner & Keith Thurman, the Filipino was coming up against younger, fresher men who perhaps on paper should have had the beating of the Boxing veteran.
However, Pacquaio who hasn't shown any signs of slowing down at the age of 40. He beat Broner & Thurman clearly in a lot of people’s eyes, after scoring his first KO for nine years against Argentinian Lucas Matthysse who subsequently retired afterwards.
Despite enjoying a successful 12 months, Pacquaio hasn’t always been victorious throughout the latter stages of his career, but he has refused to retire regardless of victory or defeat as he approaches his 40’s.
A fairly predictable points defeat to the long-awaited bout with Floyd Mayweather Jnr led some to believe that Pacquiao would retire after such a gigantic pay day as well as being soundly beaten by a fellow legend of the sport.
However, Pacquiao fought on, beating Tim Bradley for a second time before dismissing another younger opponent in Jessie Vargas over 12 rounds later on in 2016.
Despite two fairly straightforward victories over difficult opponents, Pacquaio succumbed in the seventh loss of his career in Brisbane Australia against little known Aussie fighter Jeff Horn. In what was a controversial points decision in which many felt that the Philippine should have been on the right side of, many were also calling PacMan to call it a day.
Regardless of the opinions of long-standing fans, Pacquiao was to fight again just over a year later against Matthysse and hasn’t tasted defeat since.
In an elite class weight division and with Pacquaio’s fights surely numbered as we approach his 41st birthday, a variety of rumours are starting to surface for Manny’s 72nd professional fight.
Whether a typical option of a Keith Thurman rematch or a fight against another top 10 welterweight, we’re going to explore all potential roads that the Philippine could go as he enjoys the most successful period he’s had in the sport for nearly a decade.
Keith Thurman Rematch?
Possibly the most likely opponent for Pacquiao’s next fight, ‘One Time’ endured his first career defeat last month and has stated that he’d take the rematch in his next fight.
In what was awarded as a split decision, on paper a rematch may be seen as an attractive option to many but in reality, many want to see Pacquiao face off against the best that weight division has to offer – a band that Thurman is no longer a member of.
However, in what would be another generous pay-day for Pacquiao, a rematch against the US fighter may end up happening if a more substantial offer isn’t made.
Floyd Mayweather Jr Rematch
Rumoured ever since their long awaited fight in May 2015, Pacquaio has called out Mayweather a number of times in the last 4 years whilst Mayweather has teased a return to competitive Boxing.
The pair came face to face last September with Mayweather goading Pacquaio form the off in a video that received almost 5 million views on Instagram.
Despite the attention, nothing more than rumours has come of what would be another massive fight between two greats of the sport.
In regards to the possibility of the fight happening next for either fighter, Mayweather has recently strongly denied the chance of the rematch ever happening again despite reoccurring rumours.
One couldn’t be blamed for believing Mayweather due to ‘Money’ not having had a competitive fight since Boxing Andre Berto in September 2015. Despite the well-publicised fight with Conor McGregor two years later, and an odd exhibition fight in Tokyo last year, Mayweather hasn’t been truly tested in the ring for some time and for good reason may not fancy a rematch against an active & in-form Pacquiao.
However, as Mayweather being nicknamed ‘Money’ for good reason, the rematch rumours may continue for many more months to come irrespective of the result of the first fight.
Like every other world champion in the sport, the opportunity to unify is one that Pacquaio is likely to be keen on along with the fact that every other world champion in the welterweight division is a highly rated competitor.
However, as we’ve seen in other divisions most notably at heavyweight, unification fights are rarely easy to make. Despite this, Shawn Porter (WBC champ) & Errol Spence (IBF champ) are putting their respective world championship belts on the line on the 28th of September.
Although Pacquiao’s ideal return may be before the winner of Porter/Spence, Pacquiao may be happy to wait for a fight that has such an enormous reward.
This leaves us with the remaining champion in the division, P4P star and three-weight world champion Terrence Crawford. ‘Bud’ who is seen by many as the best in the division has won his last six fights all by stoppage as well as facing previously undefeated fighters Jeff Horn & Joe Benavidez Jr.
Last fighting in April against former world champ Amir Khan, Crawford at time of writing doesn’t have his next opponent lined up. In a recent interview, the American showed interest in the fight but admitted that he doesn’t think that it will happen.
With a number of reasons given for this statement, Crawford admitted that when him and Pacquaio were in the same promotional company back in 2014, the fight couldn’t be made. When asked to elaborate on this Crawford stated “I don’t think he was interested because his coach (Freddie Roach) mentioned numerous times he didn’t want to fight me, and he wanted him to stay away from me.”
Crawford also mentioned that he was ‘disappointed’ that Pacquaio couldn’t get the job done against Jeff Horn in 2017 as the fight between the two of them could have happened afterwards.
Despite the above, one may find that if both Crawford and Pacquaio struggle to find an opponent, a unification fight between the two may happen after all.
Moving Down in Weight?
Again, not a particularly strong rumour but for a man who made his debut at 106lbs and has worked his way up the weights to 147lbs could make the move down to Light-Welterweight with relative ease into another thriving division.
Perhaps without the household names of Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence, the 140lbs could hold some exciting fights for Pacquiao if he chooses to make the move down.
With the final of the WBSS between Josh Taylor & Regis Prograis set to be announced in the coming weeks, a fight between the winner and Pacquiao for two of the divisions world titles in early 2020 would get a lot of mouths watering.
Perhaps a more winnable fight for Pacquaio, but against a much less well known name, the Philippine would have to settle for a reduced paycheck for what could be his 72nd final fight.