After turning in a tepid performance in losing his mega fight versus Floyd Mayweather Jr., the former eight-division world champ and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao is set to return to the ring in April. Whether we attribute the outcome to a shoulder injury or simply being outmatched, the Filipino superstar will not be taking the easy route in his anticipated ring return.
During the Timothy Bradley vs Brandon Rios fight week in Las Vegas, ThaBoxingVoice’s own Sean Zittel had an opportunity to speak with Pacquiao’s longtime promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
“April 9th, he’ll be in the ring and that’s his last fight period, whoever he fights, period” bluntly clamored Arum. It was then suggested that most fighters would choose a feeble opponent for their last hurrah “not Manny Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao told me he wants to fight the best available guy, whether that’s Amir Khan, Terence Crawford, or (Timothy) Bradley”
We gotta love Bob for giving us the specifics on Pacquiao’s last assignment. First, let’s look at the timetable. April 9th, Pacquiao’s expected return date, is approximately four and a half months from today. My math tells me that’s around eleven months after his showdown with Mayweather. This is beneficial as it gives Pacquiao ample time to recover from his shoulder injury yet detrimental due to potential ring rust.
Whether is due to his political duties or the aforementioned shoulder injury, we have not heard any reports of Pacquiao training yet. With only four and a half months till showtime, it’s hard to predict what form the celebrated champion will return to. Making matters more difficult is the short list of opponents Arum mentioned.
From the outside, it does appear Pacquiao has the deck stacked against him. However, let’s not forget, Pacquiao is the only eight-division world champion in boxing history. He is also the first fighter to win lineal titles in four weight divisions. Yes, he was soundly defeated in his last outing, but that could be attributed to injury or just a plain, bad style matchup. Point is, to completely marginalize Pacquiao in my opinion is ridiculous
This set’s the stage for what will be a fascinating event on April 9th, the return. At age 36, can the great Pacquiao give us a victorious farewell fight that we all remember, or will father time leave us with only memories of Pacquiao’s greatness? In order to answer this, let’s analyze his potential dance partners.
Amir Khan (31-3)
I mention Khan, the former junior welterweight champion, and British Olympic medalist first because Arum mentioned him first. Was that a subconscious clue that the international star from Bolton, UK is the frontrunner? According to Khan’s Twitter feed, the fight’s all but done, but we take what the chatty fighter says with a grain of salt. That being said, Pacquiao vs Khan is a potential barnburner due to the offensive nature of both fighters. Both possess ultra quick hand speed and questionable chins. The boisterous contingency from the UK will certainly make the atmosphere electric. A colleague mentioned to me this could mimic Pacquiao vs Morales and I don’t disagree. Coupled with the fact it would represent Top Rank working with a fighter in Al Haymon’s stable, Pacquiao vs Khan is a can’t miss. And a very winnable fight from Pacquiao’s perspective
Terence Crawford (27-0)
Crawford, the reigning super lightweight champion from Nebraska, is one of the most talented young fighters in the game today. A potential fight versus Pacquiao most likely would require a move to welterweight, but “Bud” would still maintain sizable height and reach advantages. A win here by Crawford would propel him to superstar status. I feel it’s an extremely arduous task for Pacquiao, but if he did win, it would be a legendary farewell.
Timothy Bradley (31-1)
Coming off his impressive knockout victory of Brandon Rios with new trainer Teddy Atlas, a Pacquiao vs Bradley rubber match is very much in play. However, much like a Bologna sandwich, Pacquiao vs Bradley III fails to excite as their previous two matches were only so – so. Yes, Pacquiao has a decent shot at winning new hardware and settling the rivalry, but not the memorable farewell Pacquiao and his fans deserve.