The last time we saw Manny Pacquaio (67-7-2), he was putting the finishing touches on his win over the much younger Keith Thurman.
The split decision (113-114, 115-112, 115-112) victory was even more impressive when you consider, he would’ve won on the two favorable scorecards even if he didn’t stun Thurman with a first round knockdown.
When Pacquiao enters the ring with Errol Spence Jr. (27-0-0), it will be a little over two years since his las time in the ring.
Even with the long layoff, Spence knows what he’s going to get from Pacquiao. “You can see that Manny is still an explosive fighter with great speed,” said Spence.
That’s where Pacquiao could be channeling his inner Sugar Ray Leonard. Fans remember Leonard’s brilliant (yet controversial) win over Marvin Hagler but Leonard had a layoff prior to that.
Leonard had taken off over two years before he fought Kevin Howard. He would stop Howard in the ninth round. That led to the three year break before beating Hagler. Leonard would follow that up with a knockout win over Donny Lalonde a year in a half later.
As good as that run was, Pacquiao’s could be even better. Like Leonard, Pacquiao sees an opening in fighting Spence. Leonard brilliantly waited for Hagler to have multiple tough, violent fights before coming out of retirement to fight him. In Spence’s case, it hasn’t been a run of tough fights, it was a car accident that almost took his life.
Spence returned from the accident with an incredibly impressive win against Danny Garcia but Pacquiao won’t give Spence large patches of inactivity like Garcia did.
Pacquiao is still fast and has power, just ask Thurman. That poses an incredible threat to Spence. Not only could Pacquiao win, he could win even more impressively than Leonard did 34 years ago.
Photo Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions