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Pacquiao sets his sights on PBC stars

Manny Pacquiao, nearing 40, has a whole new lease on his career — but how long will it last?

Manny Pacquiao v Jeff Horn Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao turns 40 in December. Turning 40 is rarely good news for any professional fighter, but Pacman still appears to have something left in the tank, looking rejuvenated after a new training camp without Freddie Roach, leading to a TKO-7 win over Lucas Matthysse this past July in Kuala Lumpur.

OK, so maybe Matthysse was tailor made for Pacquiao. You can argue that. But I’d point out that Pacquiao hadn’t stopped anyone — not Chris Algieri or Brandon Rios or a faded Shane Mosley or anyone — since 2009.

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KO) has a new lease on his career, as he announced officially this week that he’s signed with Al Haymon, and thus has become a Premier Boxing Champions fighter. A couple of days ago, Manny tweeted an image to PBC, showing him staring into the distance at some of their star fighters.

So how would this aged version of Manny do against these guys?

Adrien Broner

Broner (33-3-1, 24 KO) is as inconsistent as star fighters come, but he is a star. It’s expected that he’ll be first to face Pacquiao in these PBC days, with that fight likely coming on Jan. 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, probably live on a FOX-produced pay-per-view.

Broner, 29, outwardly feels he was born for the marquee fights, for the pay-per-view scale, but he’s never quite lived up to that in the ring. In fact, in his bigger fights — against Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Marcos Maidana — he has failed, losing each of them. And he’s had closer than expected calls with the likes of Paulie Malignaggi, Adrian Granados, and Daniel Ponce De Leon, and that’s just since he emerged on the major league scene in the sport. In his last fight, he battled to a draw with Jessie Vargas, and he truly had to battle to not leave with a fourth L.

Broner’s a weird fighter because he’s got the skills and ability, but he doesn’t employ them the way he should. Pacquiao’s a better, smarter fighter. I don’t care if Manny’s 40, I just can’t pick a guy who went to a split with Granados over Pacquiao, and I don’t think AB will suddenly perfect a style that gives Pac fits. Edge: Pacquiao

Mikey Garcia

Garcia (39-0, 30 KO) has torn through weight classes and won world titles at 126, 130, 135, and 140. Pacquiao, of course, is legendary for doing that and more, winning world titles at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, 147, and 154.

Garcia would be an interesting matchup. He’s not naturally big, but then neither is Manny. Both have used skills to pay the bills and get the better of sometimes naturally bigger foes. Garcia is a more meat-and-potatoes sort of guy compared to a prime Pacquiao, who was pure electricity. I don’t mean that as an insult to Garcia. He does seemingly basic stuff near perfectly, which is not an easy thing to do. But he doesn’t have the flash and lightning of a younger Manny.

Of course, that Manny doesn’t exist anymore. I could see a scenario where Garcia is able to outbox this version of Pacquiao. But I think I’d still go with Manny, just by a little. Pacquiao isn’t a big welterweight by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a welterweight, and has been for years. I think we saw a bit of Garcia reaching his limit in his climb to 140 against Sergey Lipinets. There’s a reason he went straight back down to 135 after that. Garcia, of course, has talked a big game about going to 147, and I have no doubt he means every word of it, but he’d be going up for glory and money, damning the risks. Edge: Pacquiao

Shawn Porter

Porter (29-2-1, 17 KO) is a dog. A bully. In the ring, I mean. Outside the ring he seems like a perfectly nice person. But he has his style, pure brute physicality, which helps him make up for the fact that he’s not the best technical boxer. I mean, I get what folks mean when they say Porter isn’t an elite fighter, but at the same time he is the WBC welterweight champion, and he did just beat Danny Garcia, a superior boxer, and he did hang in with both Kell Brook and Keith Thurman, two world level operators, in his two defeats.

I think Pacquiao’s a better fighter in terms of a report card of their skill sets, but as you’ve heard a billion times if you’ve cared about boxing for even a year or two, styles make fights. And Shawn Porter, at 30 years old, might have an absolute nightmare style for the older Pacquiao. Manny probably didn’t deserve that loss to Jeff Horn in 2017, but he did lose the fight, and he did have problems with Horn’s physicality. Porter is a little shorter than Horn, a couple of inches or so, but he fights like a big welterweight. You might think I’m crazy, but I think Porter, though he would get hit along the way, could do some nasty work on Pacquiao and flat wear him out. Edge: Porter

Errol Spence Jr

Spence (24-0, 21 KO) is too good and too young and too fresh for old man Manny. I don’t have a lot more to say than that. If Manny Pacquiao faces Errol Spence Jr, it’ll be feeding a legend to a young guy to make a new star. Spence is 28, just entering his prime, and he has looked terrific against his better opponents, namely Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson, stopping them both. And when he’s been matched against guys he shouldn’t struggle with, he never has. He was forced to fight Carlos Ocampo in his last outing in June. He wrecked Ocampo in the first round. He proved how much better he was, didn’t waste time on an inferior matchup.

I think Manny Pacquiao’s still a good, even very good fighter. I don’t think he’s great anymore. And I think Errol Spence is hitting the point where he’s great. And hey, legends get fed to rising superstars all the time. That’s often how boxing makes its new superstars. Just ask Manny Pacquiao, who went to a new level when he feasted upon the bones of Oscar De La Hoya. Edge: Spence

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Manny Pacquiao Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

This, of course, is the one Manny really wants. He still feels he can beat Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO), and hey, we might see him get the chance to try. If Manny beats Broner in January, this could be the fight waiting next. Floyd loves money, and while Mayweather-Pacquiao II wouldn’t even remotely approach the sort of business they did back in 2015, it would still probably make a lot of money.

Would Pacquiao have any better shot than he did the first time? I think maybe. I think there’s a chance. It comes down to the fact that Floyd Mayweather hasn’t been in a real boxing match since Sept. 2015, when he toyed with Andre Berto in his “farewell” fight. He fought Conor McGregor last year, I know — it was a novelty. A farce of a competition. I am willing to go with the joke for the sake of the job, the fact that people pay attention to it and it helps us keep our site up and running to cater to the masses, but being real, I don’t have to look at it as more than what it was.

That said, Floyd is known for staying in shape, known for staying in the gym, and he’s an in-ring genius. Even without a tune-up, I just don’t think I see Pacquiao beating Floyd. Maybe it could happen. I’d tune in even just as a fan, not counting the fact that I kinda have to and all, but I think I still favor Mayweather, even if he’s rusty, even if he’s also old. That said, the fact that they’re both old could give Manny that shot. Maybe. Possibly. Edge: Mayweather

Missing: Keith Thurman

But what else is new?

Anyway, that’s my take. I’d give Manny the edge against AB and Garcia, but not against Porter, Spence, or Floyd. I think the Porter thing is a toss-up, though, that one’s pure gut feeling about the style matchup. I could see Pacquiao winning that one, too — you could probably even argue that he might be able to win it relatively comfortably.

So two or three out of five. Not bad considering the level of fighters we’re talking about, and the fact that Manny is 40 and no doubt past his prime. Manny Pacquiao’s PBC venture is, I believe, going to be interesting, for however long it winds up lasting.

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