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Manny Pacquiao announces August 21 showdown with Errol Spence Jr.

Errol Spence Jr. (center) and Manny Pacquiao. Photo credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX Sports
Fighters Network

Manny Pacquiao threw a Friday afternoon curveball at boxing fans, announcing on social media that he’d be fighting Errol Spence Jr. on August 21 at an unnamed venue in Las Vegas.

Sean Gibbons, President of Pacquiao’s MP Promotions’ company, texted that the “fight is 1000%” when asked if the post was correct. Spence confirmed the fight on Instagram, writing, “Done deal ! see y’all in Vegas for the biggest fight of the year.”

The fight was later announced on a Twitter account for Premier Boxing Champions, which represents Pacquiao and Spence.

Tim Smith, the Vice President of Communications for Premier Boxing Champions, told The Ring in an email, “We don’t have anything official on that. Stay tuned.”

The fight will be the Filipino ring legend’s first since July of 2019, when he defeated the previously undefeated Keith Thurman to win the WBA welterweight title. The WBA moved in January to name Yordenis Ugas its champion instead, and named the 42-year-old Pacquiao “champion in recess.”

That bureaucracy hardly detracts from the enormity of a showdown with Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), who holds both the WBC and IBF welterweight titles. Spence, 31, of Desoto, Texas bounced back from a potentially life-threatening car accident in 2019, dominating Danny Garcia to a unanimous decision win last December.

Spence is a 2012 U.S Olympian who is rated no. 5 pound for pound by The Ring on the strength of his wins over Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Garcia.

Derrick James, who trains Spence, says he has “no idea” whether a fight with Pacquiao and Spence is on, but says Spence has been in the gym “just about every day since his last fight.” He says a win over Pacquiao would mean a lot for Spence’s career, regardless of his age.

“[Pacquiao] has gotten two years of rest so that means he hasn’t put any abuse on his body,” said James.

Pacquiao, a first term senator in his native Philippines, is widely expected to run for the country’s presidency in next year’s elections.

The fight could accomplish one milestone that Pacquiao has never accomplished: becoming unified champion of a division. Pacquiao drew in his first two attempts at unified titles, against Agapito Sanchez and Juan Manuel Marquez, and was outpointed by Floyd Mayweather in a 2015 super-fight that had three of the major welterweight titles at stake.

Pacquiao and Spence have been in the same ring together before. Pacquiao was in attendance when Spence dominated Mikey Garcia over 12 rounds in March of 2019. Spence called him out for a fight next, to which Pacquiao responded, “Yeah, why not? We’ll give the fans a good fight.”

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]