Pacquiao and Spence set August title fight in Las Vegas

By Sports Desk May 21, 2021

Manny Pacquiao is set to return to the ring after an absence of more than two years in a welterweight title showdown with unbeaten Errol Spence Jr. 

Pacquiao and Spence announced the fight on social media Friday. It is set to take place on August 21 in Las Vegas, but the venue has not been determined. 

Spence (27-0) will put his WBC and IBF welterweight straps on the line against the 42-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2), whose last fight was a July 2019 split decision win against Keith Thurman. 

Pacquiao's win made him the first four-time welterweight champion, but he was stripped of that WBA strap in January due to inactivity. 

The 31-year-old American Spence has successfully defended his IBF belt five times since winning it in May 2017 with a knockout of Kell Brook.

He added the WBC title with a split decision over Shawn Porter in September 2019, but did not fight for more than a year due in part to injuries suffered in an automobile accident the following month. 

Spence returned to the ring with a unanimous decision win over Danny Garcia last December. 

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    Anthony Joshua must learn from his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk if he is to come back stronger and keep alive the possibility of facing Tyson Fury, according to Joseph Parker.

    Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Usyk on Saturday after being outclassed by the Ukrainian on home soil at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    The 31-year-old had no answer to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk and lost on a unanimous points decision.

    It was just the second defeat of Joshua's professional career, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

    The prospect of Joshua and Fury facing off now appears slim, with the latter's promoter Frank Warren casting doubt on a bout that at one point looked certain to take place this year.

    A rematch with 19-0 Usyk may now be on the cards for Joshua before he can contemplate facing Fury, who has a third clash with Deontay Wilder coming up on October 9.

    But Parker, who was the first man to take Joshua the distance in their 2018 unification fight in Cardiff, believes there is still hope of an all-British heavyweight clash taking place.

    "I feel like the point is just the best fighting the best," Parker told Stats Perform. "Even though AJ lost that fight to Usyk, he's still considered one of the best. 

    "He's going to go down in history as one of the best heavyweights. I think people want to see the best fight the best and that's a fight that can still happen. 

    "People will still be very interested to see who's the best British heavyweight there is."

    Speaking after his surprise defeat in London at the weekend, Joshua said he is "110 per cent" up for a rematch with Usyk to win back his belts.

    Despite the manner of the defeat, Parker has backed Joshua to put up a far stronger performance if he does step back into the ring with Usyk.

    "I was a little surprised by the defeat," Parker said. "I mean, a lot of other people called it a 50-50 fight, a lot of people said it was going to be a tear up for AJ to win. 

    "But Usyk showed everyone watching tremendous skill and footwork and movement. You just saw him outbox and outsmart AJ for the 12 rounds.

    "But [Joshua's] a smart man and he's got a smart team. He's faced a loss and adversity and he's come back with a better game plan. That's what he's going to need to do. 

    "I think I saw an interview saying he's already watched the fight straight after it happened and he just needs to make those adjustments and how to counter someone like Usyk.

    "Who wins the rematch depends on the training, it depends on who shows up on the day. But going into the rematch, Usyk would have big confidence. 

    "It's pretty crazy how he came from the cruiserweight division, unified champion of the world and then has three fights and he's the unified champion of the world. 

    "That's the goal of a lot of heavyweights, is to be champion of the world and be unified champ. It's so crazy how things happen."

    Joshua followed up his victory over Parker, which saw him retain his WBA, IBF and IBO belts and win the WBO title, with a knockout triumph over Alexander Povetkin.

    The Briton has lost two of his following four fights, however, giving him a record of 24-2 and leading to inevitable suggestions that his career is now declining.

    But Parker said: "It's hard to say if that's the case. From when I fought him, he's had a couple of wins, a loss to Ruiz and come back and beat him again.

    "He's saying that he's improving and getting better, but maybe he just was faced with a fighter who was just different, you know, in his element. 

    "When you see Usyk, with the footwork and the movement - he didn't really allow AJ to land his shots and catch him. He was just in and out and just very smart."

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    Anthony Joshua says he would still fight Tyson Fury without being a world champion after he was emphatically dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

    Usyk outclassed Joshua at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to take the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

    Joshua had no answer to the unbeaten Ukrainian, who secured a masterful unanimous decision victory and looked like stopping the Briton in the final round.

    A rematch with the 19-0 Usyk could be on the cards for Joshua rather than a unification bout with Fury after he suffered the second defeat of his professional career on home soil.

    The 31-year-old declared that he would be eager to fight his compatriot Fury, who faces a third clash with Deontay Wilder on October 9, regardless of whether he has any belts to put on the line.

    "The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it's good," said Joshua, who suffered a badly swollen right eye in his loss in London.

    "As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever.

    "The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

    "But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.!

    Asked if he would want a rematch with Usyk, Joshua said: "100 per cent. 110 per cent.

    "I'm ready to get back to training. Because of the 12 rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so I'll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off."

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    Anthony Joshua wants an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after being dethroned in their heavyweight bout, while the British star was upbeat despite the surprise defeat.

    Joshua was stripped of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles by Usyk, who scored a unanimous points decision in just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight in London on Saturday.

    Usyk – a former undisputed cruiserweight champion – handed Joshua his second career loss, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

    Joshua is hoping to do so again with Usyk after falling to 24-2 in front of more than 66,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    "A 100 per cent, a 110 per cent," Joshua said during his post-fight news conference.

    "I'm ready to get back to training. Because I did 12 rounds, my lungs, and everything... I'll be in a good place even I get back to training and pick up where we left off."

    Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the heavyweight division, but that plan was scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

    Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

    Unbeaten as he improved to 19-0, Usyk's southpaw stance and smooth footwork troubled Joshua from the outset and a flurry of punches left his star opponent on the ropes and desperate for the bell in the final round.

    "It's a great lesson today. It was a great lesson," Joshua told reporters.

    "I know, we can look at it from a negative point of view, but for me, I gotta take it as a great lesson and build on that situation... I'm not a weak person. I don't want to be in my bedroom sulking about the situation.

    "I'm looking at it like a great lesson, go back, study and rejuvenate myself because nobody's gonna do it for me."

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