Manny Pacquiao wants his next outing in the ring to be a “legacy” fight and such a fight does not figure to come cheap.
In fact, it may actually cost around $40 million.
This is reportedly Pacquiao’s asking price for a dream showdown with World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Terence Crawford. If Top Rank Promotions can cough up the mega bucks, Pacquiao is apparently willing to trade punches with the unbeaten Crawford, considered by many as the best welterweight champ today.
Pacquiao’s sudden shift to a truly competitive ring return may be attributed to a series of unexpected events.
First came the decision of the World Boxing Association (WBA) to strip Pacquiao of his “super” version of the welterweight crown. This got Pacquiao hungry again for a world title. Pacquiao invested blood and sweat to win the crown, hammering out a thrilling decision over Keith Thurman in July 2019. The WBA took the title away from Pacquiao because of his inactivity despite the fact that many champions have been inactive because of the ongoing pandemic. The WBA did not want to completely disassociate itself with Pacquiao though, designating him as “champion in recess,” which means a reinstatement is still possible.
If Pacquiao ends up meeting Crawford, it will be a huge fight and the WBA will be missing out on a huge sanctioning fee and a share in the pre-fight publicity. Do not be surprised if the WBA suddenly reinstates Pacquiao as WBA “super” champ once the fight with Crawford is sealed.
Then again, Pacquiao completely ditching the WBA and zeroing in on Crawford solely for the WBO crown will be the perfect revenge for the WBA’s blunder.
Next came the knockout loss mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor suffered in the hands of Dustin Poirier.
Pacquiao-McGregor was a done deal until Poirier stepped into the picture and perfectly essayed the role of spoiler. Pacquiao seemed willing to risk losing the WBA belt in exchange for the big money fight with McGregor. Not a few critics slammed the proposed pairing, claiming McGregor does not deserve to be in the same ring with Pacquiao. With McGregor getting knocked out by Poirier, interest in a Pacquiao-McGregor fight has greatly diminished.
With McGregor out, the only fight that can really bring in truckloads of cash for Pacquiao is a showdown with either Crawford or WBC-IBF champion Errol Spence Jr.
Unbeaten lightweight hush puppy Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 knockouts) also got into the mix by announcing that he had sealed a fight with Pacquiao. Garcia’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, poured cold water on the announcement by saying that he cannot afford Pacquiao’s asking price. Pacquiao taking on Garcia definitely does not qualify as a “legacy” fight, what with Garcia seemingly too raw for the veteran Pacquiao. The fight could still be salvaged if De La Hoya finds a way to show Pacquiao the money.
With McGregor and Garcia seemingly out of the picture, Pacquiao has turned his attention to the fights that truly matter.
Crawford is reportedly now Pacquiao’s top choice, though just on the outside looking in is former multi-division champion and welterweight title challenger Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia.
A fight between Garcia and Pacquiao figures to be competitive, but it also does not meet the “legacy” criteria. Garcia (40-1, 30 knockouts) has no world title to offer and looked awful in his welterweight debut against Spence in March 2019.
Crawford (37-0, 28 knockouts) has emerged on top of the Pacquiao sweepstakes. Crawford has a world title, fighting style and fistic resume that will give Pacquiao a serious run for his money.
Spence (27-0, 21 knockouts) should also be in the list, but he appears more interested in taking on newly designated “super” WBA welterweight champ Yordenis Ugas.
Of course, everything will change if Floyd Mayweather Jr. comes out of his retirement cocoon for a rematch with Pacquiao.
Lastly, it cannot be discounted that Pacquiao’s political plans, if he does have one for next year’s national elections, may have contributed to his decision to go for a high-profile fight. A fight with Crawford will not only put Pacquiao back into the voting public’s consciousness but the huge take home pay that comes with it will go a long way in boosting his coffers for any political endeavor he has in mind.
The reasons aside, boxing fans are just thrilled to hear the news that Pacquiao is set to return to action. Pacquiao’s days in the ring are already numbered and he definitely wants to make every fight from here on count. Make no mistake, the legacy is already secured, the Pacman just wants to enhance it.