Errol Spence Jr. wound up winning the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.
The WBC and IBF welterweight champion Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) will face boxing’s only eight-division champion in Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) on Aug. 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on FOX Sports pay per view.
The Filipino senator and future first-ballot Hall of Fame fighter entertained facing the likes of Conor McGregor, Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia and Ryan Garcia before singling out Spence, one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best.
"I'm not like some other guys who are in it just for the money," Pacquiao told the Pinoy program “Power & Play,” a show hosted by former PBA commissioner Noli Eala. "Some other fighters challenge non-boxers just to get paid. I want to fight. I want to challenge the best."
"If I'm fighting for the money, then I would have picked some scrub to fight. Why would I try to fight an undefeated fighter if I'm chasing the paycheck? This is a real fight. I fight because this is my passion. I love beating undefeated fighters and bringing honor to my country.
"I picked among Terence Crawford, Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia. We then came up with the decision to fight Errol. But I thought a Crawford fight would also be good since he's also undefeated."
Pacquiao’s remarks served as a rebuttal to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s recent statements.
“Money” Mayweather picked on Pacquiao ahead of his promotion of the Logan Paul exhibition and said the Filipino was still forced to fight for financial reasons.
"When I come and do an exhibition or come out and box and have some fun, I do it because I want to do it, not because I have to do it,” Mayweather said at the time. “Whereas Pacquiao at his age, it's sad that he has to fight. I'm financially set and I want to let everybody know this."
The 42-year-old Pacquiao has not fought since July 2019 when he scored a spirited split-decision win over Keith Thurman. In January of the same year, Pacquiao bested Adrien Broner via unanimous decision.
"I need to have stamina and good conditioning [for the Spence fight,]" said Pacquiao. "In this fight, you have to expect more action in the ring compared to my last three fights. I have to make sure that my stamina is enough so I don't fall short in all 12 rounds."
Pacquiao will be fighting for the first time in 25 months.
But will he be fighting for the final time in his legendary career?
"It's hard to say right now. It could be, but there could also be more fights after this," he said. "I'm taking it one at a time. We can't tell the future."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com