Let's get something straight right away. I'm a Pacturd.
So… If you decide I'm full of shit and a little constipated in thought while reading this, simply consider it toilet paper– and flush it.
The 2017 version of WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will be unveiled in Brisbane, Australia on July 1 (in the US), and should present a reasonable facsimile of his 2016 self.
A healthy Pacquiao (wink) soundly defeated younger B+ fighters in former world champions Timothy Bradley and Jesse Vargas.
This means, in my opinion, that Jeff Horn (not Amir Khan, which is a little disappointing) will face a slightly better edition of the fighter we saw against Floyd Mayweather in May 2015.
Pacquiao, at 38, is still a top 10 pound-for-pound great, despite what the current RING magazine rankings believe. The biggest star of HBO since the new millennium is, essentially, a very big lightweight competing at welterweight, and has been since invading 147 lb waters. He should find Horn's chin like a lantern in an ocean storm and punch his lights out.
Manny did, however, insist on a rematch clause. For all of his punching power, he's never truly KO'd any fighter at welterweight, so there lies the possibility- however remote, that Pacquiao goes the distance with Horn on July 1 and he gets Tim Bradley'd by the judges (Pac clearly won their first fight) in Australia.
Horn's getting KTFO, in a fight that has more to do with logistics and popularity dollars than competitive legitimacy.
But how would ‘Pac-Man' fair against today's welterweight elite? In a division perhaps just as deep as it was a decade ago? Pacquaio is no longer the brave Tasmanian monster of 2009-2011. Today, he's more like a wise mongoose that will badger a King Cobra.
After watching Shawn Porter V Andre Berto under the bright lights at Barclays Center, it wasn't difficult to imagine Pacquiao in Brooklyn against his former sparring partner. Porter definitely deserves a title shot, and if WBC/WBA welterweight champion Keith “One-Time” Thurman doesn't give him a rematch (which he should), perhaps Pacquiao would give him a shot at his WBO title. This is certainly not improbable, if the honest tone of diplomatic Showtime Exec. VP of Sports, Stephen Espinoza, is taken into consideration.
If Thurman V Porter II didn't happen, no one would bash Thurman for challenging the Filipino icon instead. In fact, that's the only way he gets a pass for not fighting Shawn Porter next. That is a very, very intriguing fight.
IBF champion Kell Brook and rising star Errol Spence (also on hand for Porter V Berto, to promote his May 27 dual with Brook in the UK) would both present serious problems for “Pac-Man”. And let's not forget former WBC welterweight champion Danny ‘Swift” Garcia, who could very well still be champion if one judge had a slightly different opinion.
Let's do this.
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Pacquiao V Amir Khan
Amir Khan is now more elite name than elite fighter. Because he's lost as badly as he has– his elite fighting “mind”, on the witness stand that is the ring, would face serious questions against Pacquiao. But this is a far better fight than Pacquiao V Horn. Not just because of Amir's elite size and speed, but due to their past adventures at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym as well. Their actual fight would be a more competitive version of Pacquiao V Algieri. But Chris, while not as gifted and talented as Amir, has a better chin and far more will. The same straight left that exploded off of Algieri's chin and dropped him in the 9th round, would be a meteor strike to Khan, resulting in a spectacular KO victory for Pac-Man.
Pacquiao V Danny “Swift” Garcia
“Swift” is one of my favorite fighters, but his style is one that wouldn't be favorable against my favorite fighter. He's not only somewhat flat-footed, but his feet are what fighters would call “heavy”. Even the older version of Pacquiao still has light feet that create great angles. Against Danny Garcia, Pac would be able to maneuver for great bursts of offense, while getting clipped with occasional big hooks and rights from Danny. Its a more difficult version of Pacquiao V Brandon Rios, but Pac gets a clear UD.
Pacquiao V Keith “One-Time” Thurman
This is a very intriguing fight stylistically, because it really would be like watching a mongoose against a cobra. Thurman gets emotional both in and outside of the ring when pressed. He is not difficult to read– and doesn't try to be, which is an admirable quality that makes him a champion. But he cannot beat Manny Pacquaio, for reasons which I believe boil down to physical attrition and experience. “One-Time” is really now a super welterweight, who understands that 147 is where his skill set can be most effective. But he's been in some grueling affairs physically, and needed USADA and an array of IV's to deal with the grind of 147 for “Swift” Garcia. In between fights, Thurman is easily 175-180 lbs. walking around.
That matters over the course of 12 rounds with Pacquiao, who has seen the likes of Mayweather's technical wizardry while knowing Thurman offers none of this. In the process, he would invite Pacquiao to expose a lack of fundamentals in certain areas. Oh sure, Thurman would have more than a few moments. But over the course of 36 mostly frustrating minutes, Thurman would spend around 18 of them getting his ponytail braided by Pacquiao in a way he will never understand. Pac via exciting UD.
Pacquiao V “Showtime” Shawn Porter
While Shawn Porter was absolutely mugging a rugged Andre Berto last Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, I couldn't help but imagine a crouched Porter launching hooks and digging body shots at former mentor, Pacquiao. The thought of that, was almost as exciting as watching what Porter was doing to Berto. “We've seen the history where the sparring partner turns into the world champion, then takes on the guy that he was preparing for big fights,” Porter told Sky Sports in January.
“Outside of that, two great athletes in the ring and giving their all is what you would see between me and Manny. Anytime, any place. Its a great fight I would win.”
I tend to think its the last great fight Manny would lose- for winning.
Porter is a viciously competitive fighter that would rob Manny of all remaining physical gifts at the world class level. He would brazenly attack Pac-Man for 3:00's of every round, and not allow Pac to use punch economy and guile. He would punch with him and through him– which would enrage and force Pacquiao to revisit his May 2009 “Hitman” self. Pacquiao was forced to floor Porter when they sparred in yesteryear and that wouldn't change in 2017. Pacquiao is tougher and vastly more skilled and stylish than Andre Berto, totally capable of exploiting the holes in Porter's defense and crude nature. If Berto could land his uppercut (which he did)- Pacquiao's would get there faster, along with the other power shots in his arsenal.
It would be the nastiest, filthiest and most beautiful form of violence in 2017. Easily, the FOTY. But I think Pacquiao would stop Porter late, where shortly thereafter, in front of HBO's Max Kellerman or Showtime's Jim Gray (or hell, both of them) Freddie Roach should immediately encourage Manny to retire. For an understanding of how brutal this fight would be for Pac, revisit Pacquiao V Agapito Sanchez.
Pacquiao V Errol Spence
Prior to facing middleweight dragon Gennady “GGG” Golovkin last September, I regarded IBF champion Kell “Special K” Brook as the world's best welterweight. I believe that distinction now belongs to Errol Spence, who will face Brook in the UK on May 27 to test this notion. Brook is a bigger and stronger welterweight than Keith Thurman, and has more skills than Amir Khan. Kell would make Pacquiao look as ordinary as he did against Mayweather, but in a better looking fight. I think Kell would win a close UD.
It would hurt me to see Pacquiao face Spence, because not only could he not beat him– he wouldn't go the distance and would eventually be butchered. No one would say he got caught by a “lucky punch” ala Marquez. No. It would be Mortal Kombat, for Spence, the generational answer to Pacquiao and Mayweather's former preeminence at welterweight, would announce his legend and “Finish Him”.
Up Next… ‘Money' Mayweather: Pretty Boy Void