Manny Pacquiao Next Fight: Best Opponents After Loss vs. Yordenis Ugas

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2021

Manny Pacquiao Next Fight: Best Opponents After Loss vs. Yordenis Ugas

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    Manny Pacquiao's unexpected detour against Yordenis Ugas is now complete, with the 42-year-old boxing legend losing a unanimous decision at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

    The Filipino was originally slated to face Errol Spence Jr., but the WBC and IBF champion withdrew due to a torn retina in his left eye. That opened the door for Ugas to insert himself in the pay-per-view, albeit on short notice.

    Had he come away victorious on Saturday, Spence was arguably the most logical next opponent for Pacquiao. However, the result and his performance raise big questions about his future.

Errol Spence Jr.

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    Pacquiao and Spence were prepared to cross paths once already, so it stands to reason they'd be prepared to return to the negotiating table.

    Spence is the IBF and WBC welterweight champion, and he's unbeaten with 21 knockouts in 27 professional fights. He has cemented his status within the division with victories over Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia since the start of 2019.

    Beyond that, the 31-year-old is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

    For Pacquiao, Spence checks off the necessary boxes, presenting him with a big sporting challenge while also ensuring he can collect a hefty payday.

    But the New Yorker's injury presents a potential problem.

    "By the time Spence is fully healthy and ready to fight, Pacquiao might already be retired," ESPN's Mike Coppinger posited.

Terence Crawford

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    If Spence is off the table within the window Pacquiao is next looking to compete, then Terence Crawford is the next logical candidate.

    And it's an option the Hall of Famer has already entertained.

    "I don't know if this is going to be my last [time in the ring], we are going to see fight by fight," Pacquiao told ESPN Deportes' Salvador Rodriguez. "But if I have the possibility of making one more fight, then I would like to face the best—either Terence Crawford or Errol Spence."

    Crawford is the WBO welterweight champion. He beat Jeff Horn for the belt in June 2018 and has successfully defended it on four occasions. Most recently, the 33-year-old earned a fourth-round TKO of Kell Brook last November.

    As with Spence, Pacquiao would be taking on one of the top stars in the welterweight division while padding his bank account.

Jake or Logan Paul

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    If Pacquiao wants to cash in without putting in a ton of work, perhaps Jake or Logan Paul could enter the fray.

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. told TMZ Sports in June he was guaranteed at least $30 million from his exhibition with Logan Paul. Sportico reported Showtime generated around one million pay-per-view buys for the show, accounting for roughly $50 million before the live gate at Hard Rock Stadium was factored in.

    Given his burgeoning boxing profile, meeting Jake Paul would presumably be equally fruitful for Pacquiao.

    The likelihood of this happening seems slim, though, given the fact that Pacquiao isn't taking things easy in the twilight of his career.

    In an interview with TMZ Sports earlier this month, he said the idea of fighting a YouTube star such as one of the Paul brothers doesn't interest him and that he's looking to add to his legacy in the sport.

No One

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    When it comes to his legacy, it seems fair to wonder how much can realistically change for Pacquiao.

    He is already widely considered one of the best of his generation and worthy of discussion among the all-timers. To the extent it ever carried any long-term implications, that 2012 knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez has been relegated to a footnote.

    However, there may not be anything Pacquiao can do at this stage of his career to leapfrog Mayweather, and that's basically the only distinction that matters at this point. As disappointing as their fight may have been, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao provided a definitive answer as to who was the better of the two.

    Beyond boxing, PacMan may have a political career to consider with the Philippines' presidential election in May 2022. He was elected to the Senate in his home country in 2016, and a presidential run may not be off the table.

    With nothing left to prove in the ring, Pacquiao could hang up his gloves altogether.