Instead of ruing the proverbial lost chicks before they are hatched, Manny Pacquiao simply viewed potential foe Conor McGregor’s recent UFC knockout defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 as part of the beauty of competition, i.e. nothing is certain as anything can happen.
Before his rematch with American Dustin Poirier, the Irish mixed martial superstar had been tagged as 99 percent certain to be Pacquiao’s opponent in the Filipino’s return to the ring this July after nearly two year’s absence, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But his second round knockout loss to Poirier virtually rendered a lucrative boxing match with Pacquiao pointless from both the sports competition and financial perspectives.
If a mixed martial artist like Poirier could knock out McGregor with his fists, imagine what a boxer like Pacquiao could do to him inside two rounds. What fight fan in his right mind would still pay hefty amount to see that?
With the McGregor fight out as casualty of the “beauty of sport competition” however, Pacquiao still has control over who he will chose to fight next.
But he has to make that decision before the World Boxing Association (WBA) where he is the reigning welterweight super champion or the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) where he is a contract fighter does it for him.
Though Pacquiao has no mandatory defense obligation yet with the WBA, the organization could still exercise its power to appoint his next challenger in the absence of any unification fight with his counterparts in the rival boxing organizations.
Thus far, the WBA has given Pacquiao deference and wide latitude since becoming its super belt holder in July 2019 by beating Keith Thurman. But even granting the adverse effect of the pandemic to boxing, nearly two years without defending its title may be much too much even for an organization as “resourceful” as the WBA.
Aside from Pacquiao, the WBA has Cuban Yordenis Ugas as regular champion and Mexican-American Vergil Ortiz as interim champion. The top two contenders as of latest rating are Americans Jamal James and Mikey Garcia.
Note that Pacquiao became super champion by way of winning first the regular belt over Argentine Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 and defending it once over American Adrien Broner. Then the WBA oblige American Thurman to defend his super belt against then regular titlist Pacquiao after agreeing to Thurman to make an optional defense versus fellow American Josesito Lopez in his return after a long layoff.
Following this trend, the WBA may order Pacquiao to make an optional title defense versus either Jamal James or Mikey Garcia with Ugas fighting the winner.
In this scenario, a fight versus Mikey Garcia will be most desirable as the American has been high in the list of Pacquiao’s next opponent before the pandemic aborted the bruited Terrence Crawford unification and a lucrative possible fight with McGregor entered the picture.
However, Al Haymon of the PBC who has been eeriely silent all those times when a Crawford unification was being negotiated up to the recent McGregor to-do, may finally assert himself as Pacquiao’s principal and promoter.
Aside from Errol Spence, the WBA and IBF unified champion, Haymon’s PBC also boasts of a bevy of former titlists in Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia including Keith Thurman and Mikey Garcia under its wing.
Haymon could play the role of the kingmaker or worst, the spoiler in this scenario.
He could pit Spence against Pacquiao in a unification or at the very least arrange the next best fight, a title defense versus Mikey Garcia.
Worst, he could have any of Porter, Thurman or Danny Garcia challenging Pacquiao for his title, with Manny gaining little in terms of prestige battling those ex champions.
Manny has to make up his mind and decide—fast.