Manny Pacquiao embraced by son Jimuel (inset) while wife Jinkee looks on during a sentimental moment in the locker room after the fight.
Joaquin Henson
No pushovers for Pacquiao
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2019 - 12:00am

LAS VEGAS – For newly-crowned super WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao’s next fight, trainer Freddie Roach said yesterday it won’t be against a pushover or a tomato can, explaining that the Filipino icon isn’t in the business to make money but to stay on top of the game.

“We’re not in it for the money,” said Roach who has taken a back seat to Buboy Fernandez as Pacquiao’s chief trainer since the Lucas Matthysse fight in Kuala Lumpur last year. “We want to fight the best out there. We’re not fighting pushovers for a payday. Manny isn’t fighting until next year. He needs time to recover from the fight with (Keith) Thurman. I doubt if Thurman will fight again this year, too. They were both in a war last Saturday.”

Roach said Pacquiao will await the winner of the unification showdown between WBC welterweight ruler Shawn Porter and IBF beltholder Errol Spence at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 28. Pacquiao is expected to be at ringside for the fight. The probability is Pacquiao will take on the survivor in another unification to determine a single champion recognized by the WBA, WBC and IBF. The WBO titlist is Terence Crawford who is affiliated with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions. Pacquiao, Porter and Spence are linked to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

Will Floyd Mayweather Jr. figure in the Pacquiao sweepstakes? He was at the MGM Grand Garden Arena when Pacquiao scored a split 12-round decision over Thurman to wrest the super WBA crown. Observers noted that Mayweather was partial to Pacquiao. He was seen standing up and cheering when Pacquiao sent Thurman to the canvas in the first round and a source confided that Money sent an emissary to the Filipino’s corner with the suggestion to attack the body at the height of the American’s rally in the middle rounds.

Roach isn’t holding his breath to wait for Mayweather to announce a comeback. If he un-retires, however, it won’t be a surprise. Mayweather has so far retired thrice and un-retired twice. “I think Mayweather will stay retired,” said Roach. “He hasn’t been active since the (Conor) McGregor fight in 2017. He’s now 42. Manny, on the other hand, has fought six fights in the last three years and doesn’t fight like he’s 40.”

Roach said he would’ve liked Pacquiao to show more footwork in the fight against Thurman. “Manny was fatigued in the middle rounds because he gave it his all to try to end the fight early,” he said. “Thurman came back but the shot to the ribs in the 10th round broke his momentum and sealed it for Manny. It was a hard fight. I didn’t expect Thurman to be as competitive. But Manny showed who the real champion is.”

Spence, 29, is coming off a shutout decision over Mikey Garcia in his third title defense. He is unbeaten with a 25-0 record, including 21 KOs. Porter, 31, is a former Pacquiao sparmate and once lost a decision to Thurman. When Thurman relinquished the WBC belt because he couldn’t confirm a mandatory defense due to an injury, the vacant throne went to Porter who outpointed Danny Garcia for the championship. Last March, Porter turned back his first challenger Yordenis Ugas on a split decision. Ugas, a Cuban, made mincemeat of previously unbeaten Omar Figueroa in the Pacquiao-Thurman undercard last Saturday and lined himself up for another crack at the title.

“This is going to be a tough fight,” said Spence, quoted by ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “Shawn’s a dog. He has an amazing heart. I’m not gonna say he has all the skills in the world but he does have talent and he’s going to come to fight and give it his all. But I do believe I have the skills, the talent, the dog and the heart to make this – I’m not gonna say an easy fight – but I can stop him and that’s what I’m looking to do.” Porter’s record is 30-2-1, with 17 KOs.

Pacquiao won’t back down from either Spence or Porter. He’s a lot more experienced than either champion with a 62-7-2 record, including 39 KOs.  

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