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Is Floyd still in picture?

WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao and undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. keep bumping into each other that fans are beginning to wonder if some unseen hand is moving to create those “accidental” encounters. And if that unseen hand belongs to Premier Boxing Champions CEO Al Haymon, then maybe, a rematch between two of the fight game’s living legends might just happen sooner than later. If it does happen, let’s hope Haymon doesn’t wait too long to organize what could be the biggest boxing rematch in decades. Mayweather, after all, isn’t getting any younger. He turned 42 last Feb. 24 and Pacquiao is now 40.

There was speculation that Mayweather would announce the rematch on his birthday a few weeks ago. But the birthday came and no announcement was made. Pacquiao is in the hunt for a big-name opponent and Mayweather is on top of his wish list. Other candidates are IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, Jr., “super” WBA titlist Keith Thurman, WBC ruler Shawn Porter and former WBC/WBA superlightweight and WBC welterweight belt-holder Danny Garcia----all of whom are in Haymon’s stable. The only man out of contention is WBO welterweight king Terence Crawford who’s with Bob Arum’s Top Rank group.

Spence, Thurman and Porter are coming off recent wins so they’re standing in line waiting for Pacquiao’s nod with solid creds. Garcia battles tough Adrian Granados for the vacant WBC Silver welterweight crown on April 20 and if he wins, another man will join the queue. Last weekend, Spence outpointed previously unbeaten Mikey Garcia to retain his WBC diadem via a unanimous 12-round decision with the three judges scoring a shutout. Spence, 29, has a 25-0 record, including 21 KOs and is 5-9 1/2 with a 72-inch reach.

Thurman pounded out a majority 12-round verdict over Josesito Lopez to keep his title in Brooklyn last Jan. 26. Thurman, 30, has a 29-0 record, including 22 KOs and is 5-7 1/2 with a 69-inch wingspan. Porter escaped with a split 12-round decision over Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in Carson City last March 9. Porter, 31, has a 30-2-1 record, including 17 KOs, and is 5-7 with a 69 1/2 inch reach. Garcia, 30, has a 34-2 record, including 20 KOs and is 5-8 1/2 with a 68 1/2 inch reach. Mayweather has a 50-0 record, including 27 KOs and is 5-8 with a 72-inch reach. Mayweather’s last registered pro fight was a 10th round stoppage of MMA fighter Conor McGregor in 2017 but his last bout against a legitimate boxer was a decision over Andre Berto in 2015. The win over Berto was Mayweather’s seventh straight on points.

Pacquiao has a 61-7-2 record, with 39 KOs and is 5-5 1/2 with a 67-inch wingspan. He has logged the most fights of any of the five candidates, including Mayweather and is also the shortest in terms of height and reach. The physical deficiencies, however, aren’t an issue with Pacquiao. In 2010, Pacquiao thoroughly trounced Antonio Margarito who scaled 150 pounds (Pacquiao was 144 1/2 at the weigh-in) and stood 5-11 with a 73-inch reach. The Margarito fight was held at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, near Dallas.

Last Saturday, Pacquiao was back in Arlington to witness Spence’s fight against Garcia. The Cowboys Stadium has been renamed AT&T Stadium. Twice, Pacquiao fought at the venue. In March 2010, Pacquiao thrashed Joshua Clottey before a crowd of 50,994. Late that year, he beat up Margarito in front of 41,734 customers. Spence’s duel with Garcia brought in 47,525 fans.

While at the AT&T Stadium last Saturday, Pacquiao met with Dallas Cowboys billionaire owner Jerry Jones and Cowboys quarterback Dakota (Dak) Prescott. Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons was with Pacquiao when he spoke with Jones and Prescott. “Manny told Jerry he has a lot of great memories of the stadium,” related Gibbons. “And coming to watch the Spence-Garcia fight was the real first big fight he has been to.”

When Pacquiao was introduced to the crowd at the stadium, the applause was resounding. “The Senator got so much love from the fans,” said Gibbons “Floyd got booed. LOL!” Pacquiao and Mayweather crossed paths once again in Arlington and Gibbons took a photo of the two immortals with Money’s right hand on the Filipino icon’s shoulder. Mayweather wore three heavy gold chains around his neck, a track suit and sneakers. Pacquiao was in a suit.

Gibbons said he’s not giving up hope for a Mayweather rematch. “The fight is still on the table,” he said. “I’m hearing Floyd getting in the gym, starting to work out and sparring. Everything is still moving forward with Floyd. I think the Senator will speak with Al Haymon this week and figure everything out. Mayweather, Spence, Thurman, Porter, Danny Garcia and whoever else. Everyone is on the table for Senator.”

As for Spence, his one-sided victory over Garcia inched him ahead of Thurman and Porter in the Pacquiao sweepstakes. Thurman and Porter were unimpressive in their last wins while Spence was dominant. Garcia, described as a “made-to-order” opponent for Pacquiao by two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa, might also climb on top of Thurman and Porter if he scores a convincing win over Granados. Spence has been saying the right things in hoping to land a Pacquiao fight, showing a lot of respect. He said it would be an honor to be in the same ring as the future Hall of Famer.

Mayweather, of course, is the prime choice. Pacquiao is determined to reverse the outcome from their first fight in 2015 when he fought with a busted right shoulder starting the fourth round and still made it close in losing by a unanimous decision.

It’s strange that of the five possible opponents for Pacquiao, there is no Mexican. Mayweather, Spence, Thurman, Porter and Garcia are all Americans. Thurman’s mother is Polish-Hungarian while Garcia’s parents are from Puerto Rico. No one has Mexican lineage so it appears that Pacquiao has cleaned up the welterweight ranks of Mexican contenders. Throughout Pacquiao’s career, he has battled several Mexican legends like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez. In Pacquiao’s last fight in the Philippines, he defeated Mexican Oscar Larios at the Big Dome in 2006.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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