The most lucrative option of boxing’s richest division is ready to return to the ring.
Eight-division and reigning welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) is making plans for his first fight of 2020, which BoxingScene.com has learned is being optimistically targeted for the first quarter of 2020.
Pacquiao is among several welterweights among the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) awaiting marching orders for their first assignment of the New Year, given previous announced plans which remain in flux.
Unbeaten and unified titlist Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21KOs) was due to collide with former two-division titlist Danny Garcia (35-2, 21KOs) in a bout slated for the first quarter of 2020, as previously teased immediately following Spence’s title-unifying win over Shawn Porter in a leading contender for 2019 Fight of the Year this past September atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event. Had the bout gone through as planned, it would have paved the way for other welterweight fights to fall into place.
Those plans placed were placed on hold, however, when Desoto, Texas’ Spence was hospitalized following a horrific but non-life threatening car crash this past October in downtown Dallas. Spence continues to recover physically and emotionally in the aftermath, with hopes of also returning in the 1st quarter of 2020.
Whether it will still come against Philadelphia’s Garcia remains to be seen—and could also determine whether Pacquiao lands a fight with the former two-division champ instead or faces former four-division titlist Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30KOs).
“Garcia or Garcia will be in the corner most likely,” Gibbons joked, offering each as nothing more than options. “Nothing definite.”
Pacquiao hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Keith Thurman (29-1, 22KOs) in their title consolidation clash this past July. The win kicked off Pacquiao’s fourth tour as a welterweight titlist, having also claimed titles and lineal championships at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140 and 154 pounds over the course of his incredible career, which is coming up on its 24th anniversary since his Jan. 1995 pro debut and still going strong heading into his 41st birthday in December.
The legendary future Hall of Fame boxer is also a full-time senator in his native Philippines, having won a seat in the 2016 general election after having previously served two terms as a congressman. His role as a senator makes it a bit more problematic to schedule fights at his leisure, with his aforementioned win over Thurman having to take place when it did due to his need to tend to his political obligations shortly thereafter.
As for his first opponent of 2020, the waiting game continues.
Philadelphia’s Garcia has never stopped training, whether for Spence or against another top-shelf welterweight such as Pacquiao. Early rumors had a Spence-Danny Garcia bout taking place Jan. 25, a date that currently lacks an announced main event or platform but which has been set aside for a super middleweight clash between unbeaten titlist David Benavidez and mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim.
California’s Garcia has been deliberately cryptic with his own future plans, whether continuing with PBC or signing with over-the-top media service DAZN. Even the weight at which his next fight will take place has been a moving target. Garcia hasn’t fought since a lopsided 12-round loss to Spence in March, and has since discussed the possibility of either staying at 147 pounds or dropping back down to 140 pounds where his brief run included a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Sergey Lipinets last March to claim a fourth divisional title.
A showdown with Pacquiao—to which the Filipino southpaw is receptive according to his handlers (though whom also state every top welterweight is always an option)—would be an enticing enough attraction for most welterweights, although it very much remains to be seen whom will land the lucrative assignment.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox