As unified welterweight champion and pound-for-pound ranked Errol Spence Jr. looks at the stakes of his Aug. 21 pay-per-view bout against eight-division Manny Pacquiao, he admits the opportunity of being known as the man who ended the legendary 26-year career of the Filipino icon is first and foremost on his mind.
"I do want to retire him," Spence told "Morning Kombat" on Thursday.
That doesn't mean Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) is holding any malice against the 42-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) ahead of their PBC on FOX PPV clash inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In fact, far from it.
Spence, 31, told CBS Sports it's actually the respect he holds for Pacquiao, for even accepting a fight against him at this point in his career, that is fueling his motivation.
"Manny Pacquiao is an icon and a living legend. A lot of guys don't get fights like this [against someone like him]," Spence said. "If you look at the history of boxing, there is only a couple of guys who can be [called] living legends. This could also be his last fight, which makes it even bigger. If this is his last fight, it's probably going to be replayed for the next 100 years so this is going to be huge.
"I want to retire him but I do respect him for taking this fight and being a real fighter. He could've picked Joe Blow or somebody, or an MMA fighter just to get a huge paycheck. Instead, he took the biggest challenge in the division."
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Spence, a native of Desoto, Texas, will defend his WBC and IBF titles against Pacquiao, who last fought in 2019 when he dropped and outpointed then-unbeaten Keith Thurman to claim the WBA welterweight title. Pacquiao's subsequent layoff led the WBA to name him champion in recess while upgrading interim beltholder Yordenis Ugas, who defends his title on the Spence-Pacquiao undercard against Fabian Maidana, to the full champion.
Adding a name like Pacquiao to your career resume, regardless of whether he wins or loses, only bolsters the case Spence has made in recent years for consideration as the best 147-pound fighter in the world despite a loaded division around him which includes unbeaten WBO champion Terence Crawford.
All three of Spence's most recent bouts have come in PPV main events when he claimed decision wins over Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Yet despite the prestige of fighting Pacquiao, Spence said this won't be the biggest fight of his career to date.
"It is an important fight [but] it's probably the second biggest fight of my career," Spence said. "I feel like the Kell Brook fight [an 11th-round TKO in 2017] was [more important]. If I didn't win that, I would still be here but it would've been a harder road. It solidified me and was my first world title fight. To go to his country and stop him for the title, at that time he was arguably the best welterweight in the division. I feel that was the biggest fight of my career."