Pacquiao could face Spence Jr.-Garcia winner

DALLAS -- Manny Pacquiao made his way through a sea of boxing fans on Saturday afternoon as he entered his hotel after a long flight with his wife, Jinkee, from their vacation through Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

They went to their suite on the hotel's top floor and once inside, Pacquiao reflected for a moment about returning to a city where he fought twice and made boxing history.

"It's nice to be back, lot of memories here. I still remember this place," Pacquiao told ESPN as he surveyed the city skyline on a sunny day. "The biggest crowds I had."

Pacquiao opened AT&T Stadium, in nearby Arlington, Texas, for boxing in 2010, retaining his welterweight title by a near-shutout decision against Joshua Clottey and then routed Antonio Margarito by one-sided decision to win a junior middleweight world title, which increased his record of winning world titles to eight weight classes.

Later on Saturday, Pacquiao will be ringside at AT&T Stadium to watch the much-anticipated fight between welterweight world titlist Errol Spence Jr. and Mike Garcia, a lightweight titleholder going for a belt in a fifth weight division.

Pacquiao will do so with a vested interest because the winner of the fight could be Pacquiao's next opponent. Pacquiao signed with adviser Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions when his contract with Top Rank expired last year specifically to position himself for potential fights against any of the welterweight PBC works with, which include Spence, Garcia, world titleholders Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, as well as former titlist Danny Garcia.

Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), 40, said that he next will fight on a date to be determined in July, a month in which he also fought in 2018 and 2017 because the senate in the Philippines, in which he serves, is in recess.

"My window [for my next fight] is in July," Pacquiao said. "We don't know yet who I will fight. We didn't discuss my opponent for the next fight, but I can fight anybody. Right now I don't have an idea who is my opponent because we are not starting yet to discuss the next fight. We will figure it out, but my window is July. I have to talk to Al to ask him about my possible opponents."

He said the winner of Saturday's fight was just one possibility.

"I'm here to watch the fight," Pacquiao said. "I saw some of Spence's fights. He's good. He's OK. Spence, he has good skills in boxing. Mikey Garcia, he can also box. It's a good fight. For me, Spence has the advantage."

Sean Gibbons, one of Pacquiao's key advisers, who was by Pacquiao's side, said that Pacquiao's July opponent will be discussed more seriously after Spence-Garcia and that the next fight will again be on pay-per-view. It remains to be seen, however, if it would be on Showtime pay-per-view, as the Adrien Broner fight was in January, or on Fox pay-per-view, which is handling Spence-Garcia. PBC has deals with Showtime and Fox.

"You have to see who is the best for him, you look at the styles, who the fans want to see him fight," Gibbons said. "If it's Thurman, Garcia, if it's the winner of Spence-Garcia, we'll see. After this weekend we'll take more of a look. He just finished fighting Jan. 19, so he's enjoying himself, kind of savoring in that win. We haven't really thought about [who is the next opponent]."

Pacquiao won a secondary welterweight belt last July by seventh-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia. He made his first defense on Jan. 19 in Las Vegas in a dominating performance against former titleholder Broner to win a unanimous decision in his first fight in the United States since 2016.

Of course, the opponent Pacquiao would most like to face is rival Floyd Mayweather, who outpointed him in 2015 in a fight that shattered every conceivable revenue record in combat sports history. The fight generated more than $600 million.

Pacquiao and Mayweather have discussed the prospect of rematch, and Mayweather said he was open to exiting retirement for one, but he has not done so yet, going only so far as to face a kickboxer in a boxing exhibition match in Japan on New Year's Eve.

"The most attractive (opponent for Pacquiao) is some guy who's retired," Gibbons said, referring to Mayweather. "But, unfortunately, Manny is active and he is not. But that's what is most attractive."

Pacquiao said he would indeed like to fight Mayweather again, believing that he would perform better in a rematch after facing him with an injured shoulder in 2015.

"I don't have an idea (what Mayweather wants to do)," Pacquiao said. "He's retired. I'm just looking for a real fight."