Manny Pacquiao will make his return to the ring on August 21 in Las Vegas, and his first match in two years will be a big one. Pacquiao has agreed to fight undefeated WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence in a dream matchup for boxing fans.
Spence boasts a 27-0 record with 21 knockouts and has dominated the welterweight division since knocking out Kell Brook in May of 2017. He subsequently bested Lamont Peterson, Carlos Ocampo, Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter before taking a unanimous decision victory over Danny Garcia in December. He currently ranks fifth on The Ring's list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and ranks as the world's top welterweight.
Pacquiao is now 42 and last fought Keith Thurman on July 20, 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic likely wiped out any plans he had to fight in 2020. He has won three bouts in a row after losing a questionable decision to Jeff Horn in Australia back in 2017, and is 5-1 since losing to Floyd Mayweather back in 2015.
Against the previously unbeaten Thurman, Pacquiao was the busier fighter, though he was less accurate. He dominated the first five rounds and even knocked Thurman down in the first. Pacquiao also landed a vicious body shot in the 10th round that left Thurman hobbled. In the end he earned a split-decision victory, with cards going 115-112 twice for Pacquiao and 114-113 for Thurman.
Spence will be a handful for the aging Pacquiao. He's a battle-tested welterweight in his prime. The Filipino southpaw will have to be far more accurate than he was against Thurman to earn a victory. He'll also have to avoid fading late as he did against Thurman.
Still, no matter how it ends, this should be the kind of great, high-profile matchup boxing fans crave.
It's easy to see whoever wins moving on to face WBO welterweight champ Terence "Bud" Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs). Fans have been clamoring for a Crawford-Spence title unification bout, but Pacquiao getting thrown in the mix only makes this more fun. If Spence beats the 42-year-old, he gets a boost heading into a showdown with the undefeated Crawford. If Pacquiao wins, it's yet another marquee victory for the all-time great before finally facing another younger, unbeaten champion.
Either way it shakes out this is great for boxing.