Pacquiao says 'why not?' to Spence challenge

MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao versus Errol Spence next? 

The American champion issued a challenge to the Filipino boxing icon after solidifying his place as one of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters by retaining his International Boxing Federation welterweight title. 

Spence defeated Mikey Garcia via a dominant unanimous decision win with scores of 120-107, 120-108 and 120-108 at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, March 16 (Sunday, March 17, Philippine time). 

With Pacquiao watching at ringside, Spence seized the opportunity to call him out. 

"He's been here before, he's broke records before, he's a legend of the sport and it would be my honor to fight him next," Spence said after telling Pacquiao to join him at the ring. 

The 29-year-old Spence, who landed 300 more punches than Garcia, has been avoided by most of the top fighters in the division but this victory appears to have set up a future showdown with Pacquiao. 

"Yeah, why not? We'll give the fans a good fight," Pacquiao said. 

Now at 40, Pacquiao is already at the twilight of his storied boxing career but he has proven he can still pack a punch after defending his World Boxing Association regular welterweight belt over Adrian Broner in January. 

And itt seems not even Spence’s boxing clinic held before a crowd of 47,525 could dissuade Pacquiao from trying to add another chapter to his legendary ring career.

Spence, for his part, salivates at the thought of figuring in a megabuck bout with the three-time Fighter of the Year.

“Tell Manny Pacquiao to come back over here,” Spence, now 25-0 with 21 knockouts, told the broadcast panel during the post-fight interview.

Pacquiao, who diverted from his European tour to watch the pay-per-view bout, is thinking on the same line.

“I’m so happy to be here in Dallas and I’m hoping I will be back here soon.”

In 2010, Pacquiao notched similarly lopsided victories over Ghanaian Joshua Clottey and Mexican Antonio Margarito in succession at the then Cowboys Stadium.

Pacquiao-Clottey drew 51,240 fans, while Pacquiao-Margarito, which was for the World Boxing Council super welterweight belt, lured 41,734.

On fight night, Pacquiao came in at 148 pounds as against the 5-foot-11 Margarito’s 165, but the big weight difference proved to be a non-factor as Pacquiao battered the Mexican to a pulp, sending him to surgery and retirement.

The 5-foot-9 1/2 Spence, however, is far better than Margarito, as four-division world champion Garcia, who’s 5-foot-6 like Pacquiao, found out.

Exploiting his four-inch reach advantage to the hilt, Spence outgunned and outlanded Garcia, who climbed two divisions to challenge the Texan only to fall with a thud.

Pacquiao saw what happened, but rather than cower in fear, the living legend want to probe Spence’s mettle deeper.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr, who was also at ringside, non-committal about returning to action, Pacquiao is willing to tread the more perilous route in Spence.

And the journey will most likely be in July. – With a report from Roy Luarca/Rappler.com