Manny Pacquiao to return in world title fight against Errol Spence Jr

One of boxing’s all-time greats will return from a two-year absence to challenge for the IBF and WBC belts

Tom Kershaw
Saturday 22 May 2021 10:31 BST
Manny Pacquiao will face Errol Spence in Las Vegas
Manny Pacquiao will face Errol Spence in Las Vegas (Instagram/@mannypacquiao)

After more than two years out of the ring, Manny Pacquiao has announced a stunning return against unbeaten WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr on 21 August.

Pacquiao, 42, has already won world titles in eight weight divisions in a historic 26-year professional career and appeared to have unofficially retired after defeating Keith Thurman Jr in 2019 to win a version of the WBA title.

However, both fighters announced the bout on social media on Friday night and Spence Jr, a pound-for-pound star in his own right, will provide a formidable test. “Done deal!” the American wrote on Instagram. “See y’all in Vegas for the biggest fight of the year.”

Spence, a 2012 US Olympian, defeated Kell Brook in Sheffield in 2017 to win the IBF title and triumphed over Shawn Porter to unify the belts before a horrifying car crash left him in intensive care. After a lengthy spell away from the sport, he returned against former champion Danny Garcia last December and won a clear points decision.

Spence, who is 11 years Pacquiao’s junior, will also boast a 4in height and 5in reach advantage in the ring and is likely to be a clear favourite. Defeat may well spell the end of Pacquiao’s legendary career, with the Filipino senator and head of the PDP-Laban party touted as a future presidential candidate.

“It’s been two years since I’ve fought,” Pacquiao told The Athletic, however, he did acknowledge it “might be” his last bout. “I’m not worried about (ring rust) because a long layoff is good for me after being in boxing for 25 years before that. It’s good to rest. It’s given my body a chance to recover.”

The only boxer in history to hold a world title in four different decades, he has taken on the best fighters of several generations, including Floyd Mayweather Jr, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.

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