Manny Pacquiao will return to the boxing ring as a challenger against Errol Spence Jr. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Aug. 21 after the World Boxing Association (WBA) decided not to reinstate the Filipino boxing legend as its super welterweight titleholder.
Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN Deportes first reported on the development as WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said “that the regulations do not allow them to move Pacquiao from ‘champion in recess’ to ‘super champion.'”
Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas, in the process, remains as the super WBA welterweight champion and gets the chance of a possible matchup against Andre Berto of America and Haiti.
American pug Jamal James was elevated as the regular WBA champion as well.
“No, it will not happen (to classify him again as super champion), according to the regulations it cannot happen,” said Mendoza in a raw English translation. “We are looking to have a kind of honorary figure that is under study at the moment, but we cannot get him out of the recess he had because Ugás is already present there and you cannot take away the rights that we gave to Ugás at any given moment.
“Unfortunately he (Pacquiao) will not be unifying as we would like, but if we are looking for a legendary recognition for Pacquiao without any sanction or belt, it could not be. It would have to be that the winner of that fight goes with Ugás. They have misrepresented an answer I gave a bit, they asked us to return from recess to super champion, and that cannot be done. We are looking in this new cycle to prioritize what is the super, regular and interim, but that is a matter for another time.”
Pacquiao, who has not fought since beating Keith Thurman in 2019, got stripped of his belt last January by the world boxing sanctioning body due to inactivity.
The fighting senator had filed an appeal for reinstatement last May shortly after his mega-bout with the 31-year-old Spence was announced.
This also means that there will only be three belts on the line namely The Ring (vacant) and Spence’s WBC and IBF titles.
Should Pacquiao, 42, win, he will become the first four-weight Ring Magazine champion in boxing history since formerly dominating the 126 lb (featherweight), 130 lb (super featherweight/junior lightweight), and 140 lb (super lightweight/junior welterweight) divisions.
Likewise, whoever emerges as the winner between Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 knockouts) and Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) is likely to be in the best position to establish a unification showdown against Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), the undefeated WBO champion.