Who Wins? Manny Pacquiao vs. five potential opponents

Boxing Junkie staffers are trying to have some fun while the sport is on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the questions fans love to ask even amid a busy schedule is, “Who would win if …?” With that in mind, we decided to create …

Boxing Junkie staffers are trying to have some fun while the sport is on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the questions fans love to ask even amid a busy schedule is, “Who would win if …?” With that in mind, we decided to create our own “Who Wins?” feature, in which we pit a single fighter against each of five potential opponents and indicate who we believe would win the fights.

We started the series with our No. 1 boxer pound-for-pound, Vasiliy Lomachenko, and moved down the Boxing Junkie list to No. 2 Terence Crawford, No. 3 Canelo Alvarez, No. 4 Naoya Inoue, No. 5 Oleksandr Usyk  and No. 6 Gennady Golovkin, No. 7 Errol Spence Jr., No. 8 Tyson Fury, No. 9 Juan Francisco Estrada, No. 10 Mikey Garcia, No. 11 Artur Beterbiev and No. 12 Josh Taylor.

Next up is No. 13 Manny Pacquiao.

In this installment of Who Wins?, our staffers’ give their takes on how Pacquiao would do against Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Terence Crawford, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia. We then tally Pacquiao’s record in those fights and present our standings.

Pacquiao proved at 40 that he remained an elite fighter by outpointing Keith Thurman in July. And even after celebrating another birthday in December, more compelling challenges await the Filipino icon when the pandemic subsides.

We want to acknowledge that the choice of possible opponents is subjective. We’re looking for the best possible but also realistic foes for our featured boxers. One caveat: We won’t consider promotional and managerial rivalries that often stand in the way of the best matchups. And we’re operating under the assumption that none of our featured boxers will fight with ring rust as result of their forced coronavirus-related layoff.

The plan is to work our way down our pound-for-pound list each day. That means our featured fighter tomorrow will be No. 14 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

So here goes: Pacquiao vs. his five potential opponents.


PACQUIAO (62-7-2, 39 KOs) VS. SPENCE (26-0, 21 KOs)

Errol Spence Jr. has too many advantages over Manny Pacquiao for the Filipino icon to win this fight AP Photo / Richard W. Rodriguez

Rosenthal: This is not a fight Pacquiao should take, assuming Spence is at 100 percent. It’s one thing to beat a rusty Keith Thurman who is coming back from injuries; it’s another to challenge a complete fighter like Spence. “The Truth” is simply too quick, too big, just too good for a 40-something version of Pacquiao, who can fight only in spurts. Spence will pick Pacquiao apart, break him down and stop him in the late rounds.

Frauenheim: We’re still waiting to see Spence post-accident. If he’s the same fighter, he blows away Pacquiao. He’s big enough to be a middleweight. Pacquiao should be a junior welterweight. Spence is also 11-years younger than the Filipino Senator. Spence, late round stoppage.

Nam: Pacquiao’s speed and aggression will win him the early rounds, but this is a 12-round fight. Pacquiao tends to fade and take rounds off in the second half of his most recent fights (see the Jeff Horn and Keith Thurman bouts). That’s when Spence will start to take over, clobbering Pacquiao with hard body shots. Youth and size will prevail. Spence by unanimous decision.


PACQUIAO VS. PORTER (30-3-1, 17 KOs)

Shawn Porter (left) gave Errol Spence hell for 12 rounds. Could Pacquiao handle his pressure? AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu

Rosenthal: Terrible matchup for Pacquiao. This version of him — 41, small welterweight — has neither the energy nor the physical strength to cope with Porter’s relentless pressure over 12 rounds. Pacquiao, still skillful, will have his moments early in the fight but Porter will wear him down as the rounds go by. Porter by late KO.

Frauenheim: Porter is two inches taller and nine years younger. Those are advantages, especially for a fighter who knows how to maximize them. Porter does. But he also has a problem. He’s at his best on the inside. Pacquiao catches him when he moves in. Pacquaio beat Keith Thurman. Porter lost to him. Pacquiao, split decision.

Nam: At this stage in his career, the last thing Pacquiao wants is to go through the wringer that is Porter. Anyone remember Jeff Horn? The Aussie perhaps got lucky on the scorecards, but he bullied Pacquiao at times in their fight. Porter will bring the same physical intensity – from headbutts to half-nelsons – but at a higher level of talent and athleticism. Porter by bloody decision.



Terence Crawford (right, against Amir Khan) would not have problems beating Pacquiao. AP Photo / Frank Franklin II

Rosenthal: Fun matchup, as most of Pacquiao’s are. Pacman proved against Keith Thurman that he shouldn’t be underestimated, even in his 40s. That said, Crawford is a notch above Thurman, is a more natural 147-pounder than the smallish Pacquiao and presumably wouldn’t be coming off a prolonged layoff, as Thurman was when he faced Pacquiao. Crawford is too quick, too good, too young for this version of Pacquiao. Crawford by clear decision.

Frauenheim: There’s a reason Freddie Roach has suggested there are better fights for Pacquiao. This is one he can’t win. Crawford is in his prime. Pacquiao is past his. Pacquiao showed surprising quickness against Thurman. But Thurman was limited by a hand injury. A two-fisted attack from the switch-hitting Crawford would be too much. Crawford, late-round TKO.

Nam: As inspiring as Pacquiao’s recent run has been, throttling the likes of Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman, Crawford would mark an end to the senator’s joyride. Crawford’s counterpunching ability will disrupt Pacquiao’s usual in-and-out motion. Recall that Pacquiao has historically had trouble against particularly good counterpunchers. Crawford wins on points.



Danny Garcia (left) might have a troublesome style for Pacquiao. AP Photo / Frank Franklin II

Rosenthal: Pacquiao has had problems with particularly effective counterpunchers in the past. Think Juan Manuel Marquez. Garcia isn’t quite at Marquez’s level but he’s made his living as a top-tier fighter by responding to his opponents’ offensive moves, particularly with his left hook. This one will go down to the wire, with Garcia winning seven rounds to five.

Frauenheim: Garcia is three inches taller and about nine years younger. He’s a good counter-puncher. His left is lethal. But he doesn’t have as varied a skill set as Porter or Thurman. He lost to both. If the 41-year-old Pacquiao’s foot speed is still there, he’ll score early and often while also eluding Garcia’s counters. Pacquiao, unanimous decision.

Nam: This is in some sense a favorable style matchup for Garcia. Pacquiao will be the aggressor, which plays right into Garcia’s counter punches. But one could also see Garcia being overwhelmed by the variety and pace of Pacquiao’s offense. Garcia isn’t a defensive wizard by any means, after all. Pacquiao wins a close decision after a highly competitive 12 rounds. 



Mikey Garcia (right) proved against Jessie Vargas that he could beat a good welterweight. Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Rosenthal: Good matchup. The Pacquiao of five, six years ago probably would’ve controlled this fight with his speed and activity. The 41-year-old version of Pacquiao would have his hands full. The Filipino icon, who now fights only in spurts, will have his moments but Garcia will have more of them. His tight technique, precising punching and measured pressure would earn him the victory by a clear decision.

Frauenheim: A fight that should have happened years ago. Yet, it’s still interesting. Both looked good in their last bouts – Garcia in a unanimous victory over Jessie Vargas and Pacquiao in a split decision over Thurman. Garcia regained confidence he can be a factor at 147 pounds. His youth prevails, allowing him to score late. Garcia, unanimous decision.

Nam: Garcia has a good shot here for two reasons. First, he’s a counterpuncher by nature and counterpunchers have typically done well against Pacquiao. Second, Pacquiao is a small welterweight. Also, Garcia is conceivably much closer to his prime than Pacquiao is at this stage. Garcia wins on points in a mild upset.



Manny Pacquiao: 3-12 (0 KOs)



Canelo Alvarez: 15-0 (6 KOs)
Naoya Inoue
: 14-0-1 (5 KOs)
Vassiliy Lomachenko
: 14-0-1 (4 KOs)
Artur Beterbiev: 14-1 (11 KOs)
Tyson Fury
: 14-1 (8 KOs)
Terence Crawford: 14-1 (3 KOs)
Errol Spence Jr.: 13-2 (6 KOs)
Oleksandr Usyk
: 10-5 (2 KOs)
Juan Francisco Estrada: 9-5-1 (1 KOs)
Gennadiy Golovkin
: 9-6 (5 KOs)
Josh Taylor: 7-6-2 (2 KOs)
Mikey Garcia: 7-8 (0 KOs)
Manny Pacquiao: 3-12 (0 KOs)


Read more:

Who wins? Vassiliy Lomachenko vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Terence Crawford vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Canelo Alvarez vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Naoya Inoue vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Oleksandr Usyk vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Gennadiy Golovkin vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Errol Spence Jr. vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Juan Francisco Estrada vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Mikey Garcia vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Artur Beterbiev vs. five potential opponents

Who wins? Josh Taylor vs. five potential opponents