While many fighters try to intimidate their opponents at press conferences, Manny Pacquiao opted to give his next opponent the highest of compliments.
After Errol Spence Jr. was asked about Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s offer of advice before his August 21 bout with Pacquiao, Pacquiao interjected that it wouldn’t do the undefeated 31-year-old much help.
“Errol don’t need to have an advice from Mayweather because I believe that Errol is better than Mayweather,” said Pacquiao, 42, who lost a unanimous decision to Mayweather in their long-overdue welterweight title clash in 2015.
“I think he will teach Mayweather how to fight toe to toe.”
Spence (27-0, 21 knockouts) took the compliment in stride, hinting that it could be part of Pacquiao’s own mental warfare.
“Manny Pacquiao is the kind of guy, he will lull you to sleep. He’ll give you a lot of compliments and gratitude and things like that and as soon as the bell rings he’ll be jumping all over you,” said Spence at their press conference Sunday at the Fox Television Studios in Los Angeles.
Whether or not they continue to trade niceties leading up to to their Fox pay-per-view showdown at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the two fighters will end up punching one another once the bell rings.
Both fighters are deep in training camp for the bout, with a lot of adjustments to make. For Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), it is his first bout against a fellow southpaw in 13 years, since his 2008 pummeling of David Diaz to win the WBC lightweight title, while Spence last fought a southpaw in 2015, when he stopped Chris van Heerden in eight rounds.
Pacquiao began sparring lefties shortly after arriving in Los Angeles last week, going a pair of rounds with Maurice Lee and Alexis Rocha. A first-term senator and potential 2022 presidential candidate in his native Philippines, he says training for a southpaw has been a different experience.
“We have to change our strategy compared to previous fights we prepared. This time around is different because it’s a southpaw and it’s different head movement, strategy and combinations,” said Pacquiao.
Spence says there are few lefties to pick from, and even fewer who fight like the awkward Pacquiao, but he says he has found some fighters who fight with Pacquiao’s tempo and pace.
Despite facing a rare lefty, Pacquiao doesn’t think he’ll see anything different from Spence than what he has since he first started boxing at age 12.
“I’ve been in boxing more than 25 years in my professional career. I’ve been boxing 30 years, so I think I already saw the different kinds of style and passion that I encounter in the ring,” said Pacquiao.
Still, he isn’t overlooking The Ring’s no. 6 pound for pound rated fighter.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to pick, not an easy fight but much easier fights compared to Errol Spence,” said Pacquiao. “But I decided to pick Errol Spence because I want to give a good fight to the fans. I want a real fight. I’m a fighter and boxing is my passion.”
Spence said he didn’t have to think before agreeing to face Pacquiao, a sure-fire future Hall of Famer who has won world titles in eight different divisions. Still, one feat that Pacquiao hasn’t yet accomplished and Spence has is becoming a unified champion.
Pacquiao, who began training for this fight in late May, admits that he can’t train as hard as he once did in his younger days because he doesn’t recover as quickly the following day. Still, he sees it as an advantage that he hasn’t fought since his split decision win over Keith Thurman in July of 2019, saying his body can use all the rest it can get.
Spence believes that Pacquiao has taken care of his body, and that he won’t perform like an old fighter when he meets him in the ring.
“He doesn’t blow up in weight, he doesn’t get 20-30 pounds out of weight, he’s not doing outside things that are gonna distract him. He’s a boxer all year round, 24-7. I feel that helps him with the age,” said Spence.
“That’s why he’s been the same Manny Pacquiao for all these years and decades because he’s a guy to take care of his body and stay disciplined. So that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the Manny Pacquiao that fought Keith Thurman.”
Pacquiao says that there is no way to compare Spence and Thurman, since they fight different styles and stances, but he believes Spence to be the more aggressive of the two.
Spence says he took notice of the power that Pacquiao brought to the ring against Thurman and will be cautious of his power. But he says he feels confident of his ability to take a punch, saying he’s had it tested since the 2019 car accident that nearly ended his career, taking punches in sparring and in his fight last December against Danny Garcia, whom he dominated to a unanimous decision win.
“I don’t see myself ever getting knocked out, it’s just something I don’t see. But we’re definitely gonna be cautious and mindful that he does have power. He did knock down Keith Thurman and he hurt him with a body shot,” said Thurman.
Spence says if there is a knockout, he thinks it could to his favor.
“I definitely have the ability to finish him. But for me [the goal is] to win the fight. I feel like when you go out there and you rush in and you try to go for the knockout…you either look sloppy or something goes wrong,” said Spence.
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