The news that super WBA welterweight champion-in-recess Sen. Manny Pacquiao would fight WBC/IBF ruler Errol Spence in Las Vegas on Aug. 21 came out of nowhere when it was announced early Saturday morning. Just as everyone thought that Pacquiao was close to coming to terms to fight Mikey Garcia in Dubai, suddenly the confirmation of a battle against Spence caught the boxing world by surprise.
“It was all about timing,” said MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons who closely monitored the developments. “It was over in 48 hours. The Senator listened to all kinds of offers, that’s how he is, he gives everyone a chance then makes his decision. Some guys in his team were trying to make a deal since November last year. I heard they reached out to Top Rank and Golden Boy. But nobody could put real money down, there was no real date until finally, PBC (Premier Boxing Champions) stepped in and (Los Angeles promoter) Tom Brown got it done.” PBC, which Al Haymon controls, was the ideal catalyst for the fight because both Pacquiao and Spence are under its umbrella. So it didn’t take long to get the contract signed.
But what made the news even more exciting was Pacquiao coming out of a two-year layoff to engage easily the best welterweight in the world, next to him, of course. “The Senator isn’t afraid to face anyone and loves challenges,” said Gibbons. “At 42, he’s the Tom Brady of boxing. If you were to sculpt a Mount Rushmore for boxing, you’d have Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and the Senator. Maybe, you could add Roberto Duran to make it a foursome. The Senator’s an all-time great and this is a legacy fight for him. There are two guys crying out there because of this news – Terence Crawford and Floyd Mayweather. Crawford because he’s not in the equation and Mayweather because people are laughing at him for fighting a YouTuber while the Senator is fighting the best in the division. The Senator is ending his career with a bang. Mayweather’s legacy is nothing compared to the Senator’s.”
Gibbons said at stake in the fight will be Spence’s two belts and most likely, Pacquiao’s own crown. The business-oriented WBA actually recognizes four world welterweight champions – Pacquiao in recess, Yordenis Ugas in the super category, Jamal James in the regular and Vergil Ortiz Jr. in the gold. It’s a joke. Obviously, the more world champions, the more world title fights, the more sanction fees to pay the WBA. Because it’s a big fight involving big bucks, you can be sure the WBA will reinstate Pacquiao as quickly as you can count 1-2-3. “Recess is over, school’s back with the Senator,�� said Gibbons.
The word is there will be a US press tour to drumbeat the Fox pay-per-view event with stops in Los Angeles and New York for sure. The tentative plan is after the Senate starts its recess on June 5, Pacquiao will do the one-week tour. Then, he’ll return home and open training camp, possibly in General Santos City later to move to Manila before leaving to hook up with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles in July. It could be that strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune will be called in to work with Pacquiao when the camp opens in General Santos City.
“This August will be a big month in the history of the Philippines,” said Gibbons. “We start off with Eumir Marcial winning gold in the Olympics then JohnRiel Casimero will knock out Guillermo Rigondeaux to unify the WBO and regular WBA bantamweight titles on Aug. 14 and finally, the Senator blows Spence away. We’re not stopping there. We’re working on Jayson Mama and Genesis Libranza getting a shot at the world title and we’ve got more Filipino contenders lined up for big fights. This is just the beginning.”