Manny Pacquiao made an eye-popping move late in 2018 when the Filipino legend signed with Floyd Mayweather advisor Al Haymon.
Becoming part of the Mayweather Promotions/Premier Boxing Champions banner, Pacquiao strategically positioned himself to rule the welterweight division again.
Pacquiao’s own right-hand man, Sean Gibbons has explained to WBN the meaning behind swapping opponents like Jeff Horn and Jessie Vargas for the PBC top brass.
With his career seemingly going nowhere, and Pacquiao drifting out of the WBN Pound for Pound Top 50, a shrewd transition brought the veteran’s career back to life.
As Gibbons revealed, Pacquiao knew he still had much to offer at 39 years old (at the time of signing). And so it proved with a trio of impressive victories since then.
Despite rumors of a Mayweather pre-agreement, Pacquiao’s link-up with Haymon was not motivated by a revenge opportunity after he lost to the ‘Money’ man in 2015.
“What the Senator always needs is he needs to be challenged,” Gibbons exclusively told World Boxing News. “He needs things that fire him up.
“By signing with PBC and Al Haymon, it opened up a lot of doors for all the best welterweight’s in the world. That’s why the Senator, after he fought Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, he wanted a good fight and to really step it up.
“Keith Thurman was the guy that was available. But people forget that a couple of years ago Thurman was the unified champion. He was considered the best welterweight in the world.”
A stoppage over Matthysse, followed by points wins over Broner and Thurman took Pacquiao back to the top of 147 pound tree.
Linked with a rematch against Floyd Mayweather since then, Pacquiao is keen to build on what is already an extensive Hall of Fame career.
“I look at the senator’s legacy as really unbelievable. This recent win of Thurman here is up there with the top three in his career. That’s because at 40-years-old, he stepped up with a 30-year-old guy who was in tremendous shape.
“I mean if you watched the fight, for six rounds the senator was doing really well and then all of a sudden it looked like a 30-year-old and a 40-year-old.
“But as all the great ones do, like Tom Brady and Michael Jordan, Senator Pacquiao found another gear. His experience kicked in, he stepped it back up in 10, 11 and 12 and pulled away clearly from Thurman.
“While still showing at 40 that he can beat the best and compete with the best. His legacy just grows,” Gibbons concluded.
‘Pacman’ is expected to be back in the ring by the end of the year, whether Mayweather agrees to a massive return or not.
Speaking about the potential second fight, Gibbons previously gave WBN his point of view.
“I always tell people, that’s a great question. We’ve done everything we had to do; I think that’s a question for Floyd Mayweather.
“Floyd has said over and over I’m retired and. I’m not boxing. Floyd’s had a couple of opportunities – he was within 4ft of the Senator at the Keith Thurman fight.
“I hope that’s not as close as we see him in the next year. He was very close, it looked great, he looked nice. But he was wearing a suit he wasn’t wearing any boxing trunks.
“But to answer your question, I don’t have the answers.
“We would love to be able to avenge that loss because the senator feels a few things happened before that fight with his shoulder and some other issues that he wasn’t really 100%.
“It’s always out there, can it happen? Maybe. Will it happen? We have no idea but in the meantime, the Senator is working on his legacy, where he’s going in boxing.
“His world doesn’t revolve around waiting for Mayweather so he’s looking forward into next year. He’s going to challenge himself again with a top welterweight. Then we’ll see what plays out with the rest of the division.
“Until we get any indication from Floyd, we’re carrying on,” he continued.
“We will fight whoever is presented and try to make entertaining fights for another year into 2020. And that’s even though the Senator, at this point in his career, takes one fight at a time.
“Funnier things have happened in life. You just don’t know when that one day is, maybe the guys get the itch. Maybe he says, ‘I’m tired of people talking about it again.’
“He likes to talk about being 50-0, that’s wonderful. Senator is 62-7-2 and has won eight titles in eight divisions. Plus he’s still beating the best.
“Floyd, when he was rolling out, beat up an MMA guy and some little poor Japanese guy. His legacy is going out on beating up people on freak shows.
“We’re going out beating the best in the world, so we’ll see where it takes us.”
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay