What’s next for Manny Pacquiao?

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Danny Howard

February 28th, 2021

With the sweet science off to a strong start in 2021, the world patiently awaits the return of Manny Pacquiao. The living legend is teetering towards the end of his career, but still remains one of the best and most captivating fighters in the sport.

As Pacquiao rumors begin to take over the news cycle, the TwinSpires Edge takes a look at Pacquiao’s potential options ahead of his return to the ring later this year.

Sideshows with Ryan Garcia or Conor McGregor

One thing that is abundantly clear: Pacquiao has no one to impress. The man has won titles across eight weight classes and will be a legend that future generations will strive to live up to. So if wants to end his career with a massive payday against a “joke” opponent, so what?

A lucrative fight with Conor McGregor has allegedly been in the works, even after McGregor’s disappointing loss to Dustin Porier in January, and would still be a blockbuster event.

The proposed exhibition against Ryan Garcia would be a huge attraction as well, though it has to be said that Pacquiao would probably break as much of a sweat in an actual fight as he would in a glorified sparring session against Garcia.

An overdue showdown with Mikey Garcia

Pacquiao could also settle some old business with Mikey Garcia. This fight was once a possibility when both were aligned with Top Rank, but Garcia’s legal issues prevented that fight from gaining much traction.

Because Garcia is not as physically imposing as other welterweights, and a tremendously popular fighter as well, Pacquiao wouldn’t be faulted if he made this fight next. While Garcia was dominated by Errol Spence, he bounced back with an impressive win over Jesse Vargas, and has shown a skill set that could push the aging Pacquiao to his limit.

Giving Terence Crawford his shot

Fighters don’t pass the torch to the next generation willingly – it’s usually beaten out of them.

While it’s no surprise Pacquiao has been putting distance between himself and Crawford for as long as the potential fight has been discussed, it would give Pacquiao one last chance to establish himself as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at Crawford’s expense.

Then again, Pacquiao still not wanting anything to do with Crawford may be as much of an indication that he would rather not test his luck.

A subtle, simple send-off

We too often see legends of the ring in a “one fight too many” situation so late in their careers. For someone who is about their facilities like Pacquiao, there is no reason why he can’t hang up his gloves without a fight.

His win over Keith Thurman cemented his status as a boxing icon, and there is nothing else he could gain in a career that has made him an almost mythical figure.

So few fighters retire on a high note, and if anyone is deserving of the elusive happy ending in boxing, it’s Pacquiao.