This past Saturday July 20th, veteran boxer (and Filipino senator) Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) showed the whole world that he’s still got it! He defeated Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) via split decision in stunning fashion. He gave Thurman his first professional loss and won the WBA (super) welterweight title in the process.
That made him boxing’s oldest welterweight champion in history at 40 years of age. At times during his long and illustrious career, fight analysts and fans alike would think the fight they just watched would be his last. But he continued to come back, time and again and prove himself. In the post-fight interview, Pacquiao stated that he would take the rest of the year off but would come back for a fight in 2020. That begs the question, who is his next opponent?
Winner of Spence vs. Porter
A very significant match in boxing’s welterweight division will take place on September 28th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. That fight will be a title unification bout between IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) and WBC welterweight champ Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs). Even prior to Pacquiao’s victory against Thurman, it was widely considered that the winner of each of those fights would go onto face each other. Either Spence or Porter would provide a formidable opponent for Pacquiao. But the real draw would be that the winner would come into the bout with both IBF and WBC titles in hand. Therefore, a possible 2020 fight with Pacquiao would mean a chance to unify three of the welterweight world titles. A fight of that caliber could already be an early candidate for 2020 Fight of the Year!
There is a chance though that the winner of the Porter v. Spence fight may not be ready to go again by early 2020. If Pacquiao is ready to go then, he may seek another opponent first. Another big-money fight is with WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs). He would surely provide “Pac-Man” with a great physical test in the ring. Crawford comes with serious power, having finished five of his last six opponents by knockout. It would also allow a chance for welterweight unification of the WBA and WBO world titles, making for a big-draw.
There is however another scenario in which Pacquiao’s team may advise him against fighting Crawford preceding a possible Porter/Spence fight. In that case he would want to take a fight against another individual in the division who is still highly regarded. That would be Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs). While Garcia doesn’t bring a belt to the table, he is a former champ and has enough recognition in the boxing world to make an entertaining sell. His only two loses come at the hands of Thurman and Porter. He is a great fighter as well, and while he may not have the popularity of the trio of names previously mentioned; he’d provide a great warm-up fight for Pacquiao to take before a possible title unification bout.
To the Philippines and Beyond
Pacquiao will likely head back to the Philippines soon to resume his political duties as one of the country’s senators. However, fight fans can rest assured he will be ready to fight once 2020 rolls around. His fight with Thurman proved that he hasn’t lost his speed or precision in his 40s. While all the individuals mentioned in this article would provide Pacquiao with a challenge, he would indeed provide them with a challenge as well. His experience coupled with his un-waning physical abilities continue to make him a formidable champ in the welterweight division!