Pacquiao wants WBC welterweight crown

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Pacquiao wants WBC welterweight crown
Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao FB Page

MANILA, Philippines — Former eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao insists his three-round engagement with Japanese kickboxer Chihiro Suzuki in Saitama on July 28 is a “serious fight, not an exhibition” but it appears he’s looking ahead to challenge newly-installed WBC welterweight titlist Mario Barrios before the year ends.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said yesterday the Saitama bout is a go and confirmed talks are ongoing for a duel with Barrios."Manny’s first world title was with WBC and he’d like to end his career with another WBC title, going full circle,” said Gibbons. "It’s paying respect to WBC. You know Manny, he loves to fight and he’ll give his 100 percent in the ring. This would be his legacy fight if it happens.”

Pacquiao, 45, hasn’t fought a “real” bout since losing the WBA welterweight crown to Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas in 2021 but came back to beat MMA fighter DK Yoo in a six-round exhibition in South Korea the next year. He was set to face Muay Thai legend Buakaw Banchamek in another six-round exhibition in Bangkok last April 20 but it didn’t push through.

Barrios, 29, was the WBC interim welterweight ruler for nine months until elevated to full championship status the other day. Terrence Crawford, whom he succeeded, was designated champion “in recess” while he attempts to wrest the WBA superwelterweight crown from Israil Madrimov on Aug. 3. Barrios has a 29-2 record, with 18 KOs and his only losses were to Pacquiao victim Keith Thurman on points and Gervonta Davis by KO. Barrios’ height, length and youth are his assets. He’s six feet tall with a 71-inch wingspan. Pacquiao is 5-5 1/2 with a 67-inch reach. His experience is a major advantage. Barrios has never fought a legend like Pacquiao.

“Barrios is a solid, quality fighter who beat Ugas,” said Gibbons. “I think he’s easy to hit and he’ll play to Manny’s ball game. It’s a winnable fight for Manny. When asked about Manny’s chances against Crawford, experts were mum. But when asked about Manny’s chances against Barrios, they’re fine. Now, let’s find out if there’s a promoter out there willing to stage it.”

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