Manny Pacquiao trains for Errol Spence Jr. (Ryan Hafey – Premier Boxing Champions)
By: Dennis Guillermo
Less than two weeks away from their showdown in Las Vegas, and after a judge recently denied an injunction against Manny Pacquiao by a sports management group for some failed dealings that threatened to block his August 21 date with Errol Spence, Jr., it looks like boxing fans are finally going to enjoy a real blockbuster fight in 2021 after watching a few big ones slip through for reasons that vary from the inevitable such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which postponed Fury-Wilder 3, to the absurd such as the online beef between Nonito Donaire, Jr. and Johnriel Casimero that led to the Filipino Flash pulling out of the highly-anticipated all-Filipino title unification.
With any luck (and if both camps take their precautions seriously) hopefully we all finally get to see Pacquiao and Spence lock horns and answer some lingering questions I, as well as many other savants and fans of the sweet science, have leading up to this intriguing matchup.
Rather than break down, predict or analyze this fight at the moment, I have some key questions for both fighters and their camps that can only be answered when they tangle in the ring. Despite Pacquiao’s advanced age of 42 and all the wars that came with it, on top of his two-year layoff from boxing, the eight-division conqueror is still a legitimate threat to the younger, bigger Spence and has even cut his opening betting line deficit in more than half in some Vegas sportsbooks. You can scour the internet all you want, fans, experts and casuals are split as an M. Knight movie.
I am leaning a certain way, but I’ll save that for my pre-fight analysis on fight week, and I do have several burning questions regarding each fighter, but for the sake of brevity I picked a mix of three major consensus and random thoughts and questions of significance.
The Obvious Question
Father Time is undefeated, but will Spence be the guy who beats him up, makes him feel slow, old or afraid to pull the trigger and usher Pacquiao into retirement and make him realize his time is finally up? (What happens to his Presidential bid with an L as well?)
How will Spence handle the pressure and the magnitude of fighting a beloved boxing legend? I’m not even talking about the offensive pressure Pacquiao puts on his opponents, I’m talking about the hype, the loud Filipino crowd, the biggest fight of his life. Will he embrace and rise above to claim his moment, or will the pressure get to him? Spence hasn’t been in a fight of this magnitude before, and although he appears to be a calm and collected cat, it remains to be seen how he will handle this type of challenge.
The Conspiracy Question
Can Pacquiao win a decision against Spence? Spence is the last fight in Pacquiao’s PBC contract, while Spence is being groomed to be the now and future of the promotional company, and I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but this is boxing where conspiracies are simply a thing, thanks to the subjectivity of judging and history of corruption and terrible decisions. I’ll leave it at that. So it goes.
Was the leaked sparring video from Spence’s camp really leaked or simply strategy and gamesmanship? Spence didn’t look too good in that “leaked” sparring video where he was seen getting pressured and handled by a sparring partner who mimicked Pacquiao’s moves. The video was taken down, but it already made its rounds and surely had been saved and shared with interested parties many times over. Was this a genuine sparring session that got leaked, or a ruse from Spence’s camp to throw off Freddie Roach and Team Pacquiao’s preparations and strategy coming into the fight?
The Random What If?
Surely, you probably haven’t thought of this or read and heard it anywhere else, and I doubt even Pacquiao and his team had even addressed it, I mean why would they? They’re expecting a W over there at all times. BUT WHAT IF? What if Pacquiao takes a beating the way he gave the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera a legendary beating of his own when they first fought thousands of moons ago, and with Pacquiao being the warrior that he is and has never gone out on his shield, who will have the guts or autonomy between his co-head trainers Freddie Roach and Buboy Fernandez to throw in the towel and save Pacquiao from further damage? Can they even do it? Pacquiao said it himself “knock me out, then you win.” And that’s pretty much the only way Pacquiao goes, which is why he is beloved by boxing fans. Who and can his corner even pull the trigger?
Pacquiao’s legacy will be fine even if he loses to Spence, but WHAT IF? What if Spence gets knocked out by Pacquiao? Though he looked good versus Danny Garcia after his car accident, Spence’s stock surely drops if he loses to Pacquiao. Just look at what happened to Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman after losing to Pacquiao. Thurman cut his hair and looks more like a commentator these days, while Broner got banned from the hood altogether. That’s why this is a big WHAT IF? But hey, anything can happen in boxing, especially when you got a legend like Pacquiao in the equation.
Here’s hoping the boxing gods smile upon us and this fight pushes through as scheduled. Both men are looking sharp and focused in their camps, which surely promises fireworks on August 21st and answers to all our questions.
You can follow Dennis on Twitter @dRealSource