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Pacquiao vs Spence officially announced, fighters have first face off

Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence Jr are set for Aug. 21.

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence Jr are officially set for their Aug. 21 fight, which will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on FOX pay-per-view, with Spence’s WBC and IBF titles — plus the Ring Magazine welterweight championship — on the line.

The two met up today to formally announce the fight on FOX, and showed respect for one another, as you would expect.

“There was a lot of opportunity to pick a — not easy fight, but a much easier fight compared to Errol Spence,” Pacquiao said of his decision to take this fight at age 42. “But I decided to pick Errol Spence because I want to give a good fight to the fans, I want a real fight. I’m a fighter and boxing is my passion.”

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO) hasn’t fought since July 2019, when he won a decision over Keith Thurman to take the WBA title. He’s since been removed as WBA “super world” titleholder, replaced by Yordenis Ugas, and despite petitioning the sanctioning body to reinstate him, that’s not going to happen.

But even without that third alphabet belt, this is one of the biggest fights of 2021, and Pacquiao sees it as another great challenge in his obviously Hall of Fame-bound career.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges in my career,” he said. “I cannot say the biggest challenge because I have been fighting the best fighters in the world — Keith Thurman, De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, a lot of those fighters. But one of the best, I can rate (Spence).”

The 31-year-old Spence (27-0, 21 KO) is right in his prime and considered one of the best fighters in the sport today, pound-for-pound. Though some may want to put some pressure on him to stop Pacquiao — who is older and smaller — Manny has been stopped just once in this century, when Juan Manuel Marquez scored an all-timer KO in their fourth fight back in 2012.

Spence says he won’t go hunting for the KO, though he believes he can stop Pacquiao or anyone else.

“I definitely have the ability to finish him, but for me it’s about winning the fight,” Spence said. “It’s to stay focused and win the fight. When you go out there and rush it and try to go for the knockout, I feel like from my experience, even in the amateurs, you look sloppy and something goes wrong. You look like you’re trying too hard. For me it’s to go have my fight at my pace. If the knockout comes, go for it. If not, go for the victory.”

Recently, former Pacquiao foe Floyd Mayweather said he has respect for both and wishes each man nothing but the best, though he will be rooting for Spence and said he’d even give him some tips on how to fight the Filipino legend — which Pacquiao says Spence doesn’t need.

“Errol doesn’t need to get advice from Mayweather, because I believe that Errol is better than Mayweather,” he said. “He will teach Mayweather how to fight toe-to-toe.”

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