Jaron Ennis calls out Spence after big win over Clayton

In what was supposed to be the toughest test of his career, Jaron “Boots” Ennis again made a mockery of pre-fight expectations, stopping the previously undefeated Custio Clayton via a second-round stoppage in an IBF welterweight title eliminator in the telecast co-feature in another scintillating performance from the Philly fighter.

After pushing Clayton back with jabs, Ennis, 24, landed a sweeping right hand to the top of Clayton’s head behind his ear that caused the Canadian to crumple to the canvas. Clayton, a former Olympian known for his durability, tried to get up but was still dizzy from the punch and fell back down again. He finally managed to get to his feet and beat the count, but stumbled into the ropes, causing referee Ray Corona to mercifully wave the fight off at 2:49 of the second round.

Photo: STEPHANIE TRAPP/SHOWTIME

Following the match, Ennis called out unified champion Errol Spence Jr., who was ringside. Ennis improved to 29-0 with 27 knockouts while Clayton suffered his first defeat, dropping to 19-1-1 with 12 knockouts.

“Anybody can get it right now,” Ennis said. “But I’m the IBF No. 1 contender and I think ‘Mr. Big Fish’ is here himself, so it’s time to go fishing,” he said referencing Spence’s nickname.

Spence responded, smiling as he commented on another dominant and electric performance from Ennis and another unsuccessful showing from an Ennis opponent.

“He’s doing what he’s supposed to do,” Spence told Jim Gray of SHOWTIME. “He’s supposed to call me and everybody out and say I want to fight them. If he wasn’t hungry like that, like the guy he just fought. I don’t feel like he was hungry. I don’t feel like he wanted to fight.

“Ennis can fight,” Spence went on. “I’m very high on him. He’s got the right attitude. He’s got the right team behind him with him and his dad. He’s going to go a long way. But I heard him say he wants to reel me in. You might catch something you don’t want so don’t try too hard trying to reel me in.”

Ennis, who previously stopped veteran contender Thomas Dulorme in the first round back in October, took control from the opening bell, unleashing a steady diet of jabs to Clayton’s face and body. With Clayton moving backward for the entire round, unable to respond, frozen by Ennis’ speed, the 24-year-old began to open up with rights and lefts while switching from righty to lefty as Clayton covered up.

“He had a high guard, so I was trying to come around with the right hook,” Ennis said. “He leaned down and I just threw an overhand. I thought he was going to get up. He’s a durable, tough guy. Nobody has ever stopped him. I thought he was going to get up, but I saw he fell again, so I was like, ‘this is over.’”

Ennis dedicated the fight to Jackson Ramirez, a 7-year-old who lives just outside of Pittsburgh and has a genetic disease called IPEX syndrome, which requires a bone marrow transplant for his only chance of survival.

Because of his mixed ethnicity – white and Mexican – finding a match for a marrow transplant for Ramirez is a challenge. After reading about the boy, Ennis reached out to his family and is now in close contact with Ramirez, speaking to him and making it one of his goals to raise awareness about the boy’s situation to find a match and to increase donor diversity.

Errol Spence Jr.: ‘This is something that every April 16, my kids, my family, we can go out and have fun

Undefeated WBC and IBF world champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. received a special proclamation from Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on Monday, as Mayor Johnson declared Saturday, April 16 “Errol Spence Jr. Day” ahead of Spence’s fight at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night.

During the ceremony at Spence trainer Derrick James’ World Class Boxing Gym, Mayor Johnson presented Spence with a proclamation and pledged as a member of Team Spence.

Spence will take on WBA world champion Yordenis Ugas in a welterweight title unification clash that headlines a SHOWTIME PPV Saturday, April 16 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Spence vs. Ugas will be just the 12th unification fight in the rich history of the welterweight division and will see Spence fighting in front of his hometown crowd looking to add a third welterweight title and boost his standing as the world’s top welterweight.

Here is what the event participants had to say Monday:

ERROL SPENCE JR.

Lawrence Jenkins/Premier Boxing Champions

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get my own day from the great city of Dallas and to have everyone come out to support me. On April 16, I’m going to put on a great show. This day truly means a lot to me. I can do many great things, but only a few people are chosen to have their own day in their city. It’s amazing and I really appreciate that.

“This is something that every April 16, my kids, my family, we can go out and have fun and just celebrate the day. It’s like a holiday. I appreciate everyone. I’m going to go out and put on an amazing performance. I thank Dallas for supporting me and I ask everyone to come out and support me. I will show you my gratitude on April 16.

“I feel it’s a dream come true to unify in my backyard and get a third world title. Most fighters don’t get that chance and I get that opportunity on Saturday night in front of my family and childhood friends I grew up with. It’s going to be a great, sentimental moment for me when I win that belt.

“I embrace training at home. I enjoy it. I know it’s a privilege to be fighting at home, especially to be fighting at home in a football stadium. I feel that’s huge. I’ve been working hard, training hard and I know it’s a privilege, so I have to stay focused.

“I want to tell the kids of Dallas that they can do anything they want, but the main thing is to stay focused. Growing up, you go through a lot of things like peer pressure and people trying to get you to do different things and try different things. You just got to stay focused on your goals. Figure out what you want out of life and believe in yourself, even if you have no one else to believe in, believe in yourself and your abilities.”

DALLAS MAYOR ERIC JOHNSON

“I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that I’m a big sports fan. I, of course, love cheering on our hometown teams and the athletes who represent our great city. And I love the camaraderie and fun that we can have together as sports fans. But more than that, I know that sports can serve to teach us about life. It shows us what it takes to be successful, and what it means to be great.

“And that’s part of why I love boxing. I love that being successful at the sport requires agility, power, speed, hustle, resilience, commitment and grace. And I absolutely love watching the champion, Errol Spence Jr.

“You can tell that Errol Spence Jr. grew up around here because of his indomitable spirit and fierce competitiveness. If you’ve followed his career, you know that Errol has never taken the easy way out. He’s been through a number of challenges, setbacks and injuries, but he doesn’t back down. He doesn’t avoid a tough fight or make excuses.

“He’s a fighter’s fighter. A champion’s champion. A master of his craft. And his commitment to excellence in the boxing ring is unmatched and certainly deserving of our appreciation.

“Errol, I can’t wait to see you go toe to toe this weekend with Yordenis Ugas not too far from here at AT&T Stadium. It’s going to be an incredible fight. And I want you to know that you’ll be fighting not just for yourself, and not just to unify titles, but for something that’s very important to me. You’ll be fighting for the 1.4 million people who call the city of Dallas home.

“That’s because I’m proclaiming Saturday, April 16, 2022, as Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence Jr. Day in the city of Dallas.

“I want to present you with this official proclamation. Just know this week and on Saturday that your mayor is in your corner, and the entire city of Dallas – the greatest city in the world – is in your corner. So go out there and be the best again on Saturday. We’re looking forward to it. We’re so proud of you. And thank you so much for representing this great city. Errol trains right here, in the heart of the city of Dallas, he’s always represented the city. He loves Dallas, we love him back and I hope he feels that on Saturday night.”

Ugas: ‘I had to overcome everything alone’

WBA Welterweight World Champion Yordenis Ugas had a virtual press conference Monday as the fighters discussed their journeys to boxing glory and previewed Ugas’ upcoming welterweight championship unification clash against WBC and IBF champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. taking place Saturday, April 16 live on SHOWTIME PPV from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Just the 12th unification fight in the rich history of the welterweight division, Spence vs. Ugas will join other classic unification matchups at the weight class such as “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I and Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Ugas will look to join Trinidad on the list of unified welterweight champions, as Trinidad unified 147-pound belts in a 1999 victory over Oscar De La Hoya.

Here is what the Ugas had to say Monday:

YORDENIS UGAS

“Ismael Salas is one of the best trainers in the world. When I was out of the sport for over two years, I went to the gym with him and he built me back up to where I am now. He’s been a great influence in my boxing career and he’s helped me reach the heights I’ve been able to achieve.

“I love my country, but I am also always asking for a free Cuba, because I want a better future for the country that I represent and love with all of my heart.

“I did my job against Manny Pacquiao. I took the fight on 11 days’ notice. Whatever Spence said about what he would have done against Pacquao, I’m not concerned. I’m only focused on the challenge that I have against Spence.

“I had to leave Cuba on a speedboat, never knowing if I’d see my family again. I didn’t see them for almost a decade. I had to overcome everything alone. Not only professionally, but personally I had a lot to overcome.

“I’m a competitor, I would have put my best foot forward in any decade. I would have loved to fight Trinidad and the other fighters of his era. I could have won, I could have lost, but I would have loved to face those challenges.”

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champion

Errol Spence Jr.: ‘Whatever Ugas brings to the table, I’m ready for it’

Unified WBC and IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr., a Desoto, Texas-native, declared that he is “on point” physically during a media workout in Dallas on Thursday ahead of his 147-pound title unification clash against WBA Welterweight World Champion Yordenis Ugas taking place Saturday, April 16 live on SHOWTIME PPV in a Premier Boxing Champions event from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Responding to a statement made Wednesday by Ugas’ trainer Ismael Salas that he was a “different” fighter in his first fight back after a 2019 car accident, Spence smiled and said he was now in better shape physically and mentally and that Ugas’ trainer would soon see.

(Cooper Neill / Showtime) 

Just the 12th unification fight in the rich history of the welterweight division, Spence vs. Ugas will join other classic unification matchups at the weight class such as “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I and Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Spence will look to add a third welterweight championship belt to his resume when he returns to fight at AT&T Stadium in front of his hometown fans for the third time.

Here is what Spence had to say Thursday:

ERROL SPENCE JR.

“I’m feeling good and I’m ready to go. This layoff was easier for me after the injury than the one after the accident because it was a lot less stress on my body. Mentally I was also prepared for what I was going to go through. I had been back in training before camp started for this fight so I’m ready.

“Even half of me would beat most of these guys at the top level. I feel great now and I’m 100%. Physically I’m on point and everything feels real regular. If Ugas’ trainer (Ismael Salas) thinks I’m a different fighter now, we’ll see in two and half weeks how different I am.

“Training camp has been great. I’ve had great sparring partners and we’ve been focused. I got a nutritionist and it’s made the weight cut much easier for me.

“I have everything in my arsenal. Whatever Ugas brings to the table, I’m ready for it. I’m going to dictate the pace and control everything. I’m making him fight my fight.

“From what I’ve seen, Ugas is very physical and very tough. He was waving Shawn Porter forward, so you know he has that fighter spirit inside of him.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of work and I’m not worried about my eye at all. It actually feels stronger than the other one. I’m just making sure that I’m 100% on point with everything.

“I’m not looking to say anything to the rest of the division. I’m going to send my message with my performance. When I have three belts, everyone is going to know what that means.

“I watched the Ugas vs. Manny Pacquiao fight live but I haven’t watched it since then. I thought the way that fight went was more because of Pacquiao being a shell of himself.

“I’ve been looking forward to this fight since I had to drop out of the Pacquiao bout. I knew I would be fighting the winner, and now I’ve got Ugas in front of me. He’s a tough champion who’s been through a lot in his life.

“I can’t sit back and fight a tune-up fight right now. I want to go straight in with the sharks. Ugas is going to push me to another level and that’s what I want. I knew that if I was fighting a tune-up I could sneak snacks in at night and stuff like that. I’m fighting someone on my level.

“Ugas is living the ‘American Dream’ and he wants to keep living the ‘American Dream’. His challenge is beating me and I want his belt.

“Those Mexican fans are a huge part of Texas and I love fighting in front of them. I’m planning on giving them the kind of amazing fight they love.”

Ugás: ‘I was the underdog against Pacquiao and now again against Spence’

WBA Welterweight World Champion Yordenis Ugás showed off his skills at a media workout in Las Vegas on Wednesday, as he nears his 147-pound title unification clash against WBC and IBF champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. taking place Saturday, April 16 live on SHOWTIME PPV in a Premier Boxing Champions event from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Just the 12th unification fight in the rich history of the welterweight division, Spence vs. Ugás will join other classic unification matchups at the weight class such as “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I and Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Ugás earned this opportunity in his most recent fight, successfully defending his title against future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in August 2021.

Here is what Ugás had to say Wednesday:

YORDENIS UGÁS

“I’m very thankful for everyone who has supported me. I’m extremely ready for this fight and to give the fans a great show on April 16. This has been a fantastic training camp and I can’t wait.

“I’m happy to be fighting in Spence’s backyard, because they have great fans down there in Texas. It just adds extra motivation.

“We’ve had a great training camp here in Las Vegas with Ismael Salas. We always make sure that the hard work pays off. We’re going to be bringing our best into the ring.

“I was out of the ring for a long time, but when I came back and gave Jamal James the first loss of his career, I knew that I would be coming for big things. Everything changed for me that night and it’s all led up to this.

“The Pacquiao fight was a great night for me. After that fight my life changed in even more ways. But I’ve always kept myself humble. I showed everyone who the WBA champion was. I have my eye on continuing to make history.

“Being an underdog means nothing to me. I was the underdog against Pacquiao and now again against Spence. I’ve always been the underdog and it doesn’t faze me.=

“It’s an honor to be in the ring with Errol Spence Jr. We’re fighting for three belts, but even more important is fighting for honor and respect.

“Fans can expect me to fight like a warrior. I’m going to take all of my hard work into the ring on April 16.”

Photos: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Porter: ‘He’s (Crawford) the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with’

For nine rounds on Saturday night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 11,568 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, we had a very close fight between Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter, but in the 10th round, it turned when Crawford dropped Porter twice, and ultimately, Porter’s father and trainer, Kenny Porter, decided to stop the fight.

With the win, Crawford retains his WBO welterweight world title 

Mikey Williams /Top Rank via Getty Images

Porter(31-4-1, 17 KOs) was Crawford’s (38-0, 29 KOs) best opponent at 147, and after five rounds, Porter, who appeared to give Crawford trouble, led 48-47 on all three scorecards.

However, according to Crawford, he figured Porter out very early.

“(I figured him out in) Round 1,” Crawford said. “I figured that I had the reach, and he had to take chances, and he did what he normally does. He tried to maul and push me back, but I used my angles, and I pushed him back at times as well. Shawn Porter is a slick fighter. He was doing some things in there and made me think.”

According to Porter, who lost to Errol Spence Jr., Crawford is the best fighter he’s ever faced.

“My timing was off, and he wouldn’t allow me to get my rhythm,” Porter said. “He’s (Crawford) the best out of everybody I have been in the ring with.”

Despite the knockdowns, it appeared Porter could continue, but his father decided otherwise, which he explained why after the fight.

“He didn’t prepare like I wanted him to prepare,” Kenny Porter said. “So that makes me say, ‘You know what? I don’t want him in that situation.'”

Crawford and Porter are friends, so this was not a fight Crawford wanted to make, which Crawford discussed after the win.

“I love him. Shawn Porter is a real good friend of mine,” Crawford said. “I didn’t really want to fight him. We always said we would fight each other when the time was right, and I guess the time was right for this fight to happen. I tried to fight the other champions in the division, and that didn’t happen, so I went to the next best thing.”

At the post-fight press conference, the 34-year-old Porter announced his retirement from boxing. Boxers retire often in the sport and come back, so we’ll see if Porter stays retired.

Regarding Crawford, whose contract with Top Rank is done, he could move to the PBC side and go after Spence, who was in attendance on Saturday night. Spence-Crawford is the biggest fight at 147 and maybe the biggest fight in boxing, so let’s hope it happens sometime in 2022.

Roy Jones Jr. reacts to Ugas’ win over Pacquiao, concerned for Errol Spence Jr.

On Saturday night, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao lost by unanimous decision to WBA 147-pound champion Yordenis Ugas at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The 42-year-old Pacquiao was supposed to fight unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., but he had to withdraw due to an eye injury.

Throughout the fight on Saturday night, Pacquiao had a hard time getting out of the way of Ugas’ jab and right hand.

While some were stunned by the result, the great Roy Jones Jr. was not. 

“It’s what I expected,” Jones said about Ugas’ win. “Pacquiao is not as young as he used to be. If you don’t have legs, you are not going to beat Ugas. Ugas is a very good fighter, a very smart fighter, a very experienced amateur fighter, and a very experienced pro fighter. 

“So, I knew going in, in my opinion, Ugas was going to be a harder fighter than Spence because Spence was going to come right at him… A guy that could box him and use his jab like Ugas did would create more of a problem, and that’s what happened.”

Jones does not think Pacquiao is done, but he believes his team should be smarter with the matchmaking going forward.

Watch below as Jones talks Pacquiao, Spence’s injured eye, and his induction into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame.

Jones was on hand in Atlantic City for Sunday’s fifth annual ACBHOF induction ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Here is a list of the other individuals inducted into ACBHOF on Sunday:

Riddick Bowe, Pernell Whitaker, Al Cole, Ernest Bing, Tony Thornton, Sr., Calvin Grove, Percy Richardson, Tommy Parks, Earl Morton, Steve Weisfeld, Ron Katz, Murad Muhammad, Marc Abrams, Al Bernstein, and Ms. Laoma Byrd. Felix Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik, Simon Brown, Ivan Robinson, Aaron Snowell, Joey Eye, Frank Cappuccino, Ed Keenan, and Nino Delbuno.

For more information about the ACBHOF, go to  www.acbhof.com.

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Ugas-Maidana, Guerrero-Ortiz to headline Pacquiao-Spence undercard

Three exciting matchups have been added to the stacked FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View undercard headlined by eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao facing unified WBC and IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. on Saturday, August 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

WBA Welterweight World Champion Yordenis Ugás will square off against Argentina’s Fabián “TNT” Maidana in the co-main event, while former world champions and all-action brawlers Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and “Vicious” Víctor Ortiz will meet in a 10-round welterweight duel. Kicking off the pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, unbeaten featherweight contender Mark Magsayo battles former world champion Julio Ceja in a 10-round attraction.

“This is a fantastic pay-per-view undercard that is worthy of the highly-anticipated main event between Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence Jr.,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Yordenis Ugás has established himself as an elite fighter in the star-studded welterweight division, and he will have to make sure he comes at his best for the always tough Argentine, Fabián Maidana. Robert Guerrero vs. Víctor Ortiz is a real treat for boxing fans as two of the sport’s most exciting veterans will battle looking to prove themselves ready for one more run at the world title. And in the opening bout, the extremely promising featherweight contender Mark Magsayo of the Philippines will be up against his stiffest test to date in the former champion Julio Ceja.

The 35-year-old Ugás (26-4, 12 KOs) has established himself as an elite welterweight since returning from a layoff in 2016, and was elevated to world champion in January after winning a WBA belt by defeating Abel Ramos last September. Ugás, who is from Santiago, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, was on an eight-fight winning streak before losing a narrow split-decision to Shawn Porter in a world title fight in March 2019. The Olympic bronze medalist trains in Las Vegas and owns victories over then undefeated fighters Jamal James, Omar Figueroa Jr. and Bryant Perrella, plus veteran contenders Thomas Dulorme and Ray Robinson.

“Everyone knows I’m a warrior and will fight anyone on any given day, so when they presented me with this fight against Fabián Maidana, I accepted with no hesitation,” said Ugás. “I’ll be defending my WBA title and the world will see why I am must-see T.V. This will be one of the best FOX Sports PBC pay-per-view events in recent history with some of the biggest names in boxing, all fighters who are known for leaving it all in the ring. I know one thing for sure, I’ll be letting my hands fly with bad intentions on August 21. I also want to dedicate this fight to all the brave men, women and children who are fighting for their freedom in Cuba. Patria y Vida!”

Born in Santa Fe, Argentina, Maidana (18-1, 13 KOs) will look to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, former two division champion Marcos Maidana, and become the latest Argentine world champion on August 21. The 29-year-old was unbeaten in his first 16 pro fights, capping off that run with a knockout of Andrey Klimov in July 2018. Since dropping a January 2019 decision to Jaider Parra, Maidana has bounced back with a knockout of Ramses Agaton in September 2019 and a 10-round decision victory over Carlos Cordoba in April of this year.

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for all my life,” said Maidana. “I’m thrilled to be part of such a huge fight card. I’m a man of few words, so all I can tell you is that Ugas is a great fighter but you guys will see the ‘TNT’ I have in each hand exploding on Ugas’ face on August 21.”

Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) is a three-time world champion who has won world titles at featherweight and super featherweight, and has fought a stacked lineup of elite fighters, including Floyd Mayweather, during a superb career. The Gilroy, California native returned from a 2017 defeat to Omar Figueroa Jr. to win his last three contests. After stopping Adam Mates in December 2018 and Hevinson Herrera in March 2019, Guerrero most recently won a unanimous decision over Gerald Thomas in September 2019.

“It’s great to be back in the ring, especially on a big card like Pacquiao vs. Spence,” said Guerrero. “It was an honor to kick off the first PBC fight on network television and here I am once again, ready to put on a spectacular show for the fans. Víctor Ortiz and I were always on a collision course to fight, and now it’s finally happening. One thing I know for sure, we are going to throw blows and the fans are going to see an all-out war. My time out of the ring has only fueled my desire to give the fans a great fight. Everyone should order this pay-per-view and get their popcorn ready, because it’s going to be fireworks from top to bottom.”

Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs), a former 147-pound champion, will return to the ring for the first time since a February 2018 draw against two-division champion Devon Alexander. The 34-year-old native of Garden City, Kansas, who now lives in Ventura, California, has faced some of the top names in the 147-pound division during his career. Ortiz won the welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Andre Berto in April 2011, before losing the title to Floyd Mayweather.

“I am thrilled to be back in the ring on this Pacquiao vs. Spence Jr. pay-per-view undercard August 21,” said Ortiz. “Robert Guerrero is a legend who I’ve always admired. I look forward to competing against him and giving fans the toe-to-toe battle they’re expecting. I’ve had a great camp and I’m so excited to be part of this enormous event. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, I’m ready to make history again!”

The Filipino sensation Magsayo (22-0, 15 KOs) fights out of Pasig City, Metro Manila and most recently knocked out Pablo Cruz in four rounds in April 2021, following his U.S. televised debut in October 2020 that saw him defeat Rigoberto Hermosillo on FS1. The 26-year-old fights in the U.S. for the fifth time overall on August 21 and against his toughest competition to date in the former champion Ceja. Magsayo owns 12-round decision victories over Shoto Hayashi and Jose Robles Olvera, and a sixth-round stoppage of former title challenger Chris Avalos.

“This is going to be a very good matchup against a world class fighter in Ceja,” said Magsayo. “I have been waiting for a chance like this and I am thankful to my whole team for this opportunity. It’s a dream come true to be on the undercard of my number one idol, Senator Manny Pacquiao. On August 21, I’m going to show people what I can do. This is going to be a classic Philippines vs. Mexico war.”

A former super bantamweight champion, Ceja (32-4-1, 28 KOs) will move up to featherweight as he seeks an opportunity to capture a championship in a second division. Ceja’s 2019 saw him engage in two action-packed battles, dropping a June contest to former champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and most recently fighting unbeaten super bantamweight champion Brandon Figueroa to a draw in November. The 28-year-old captured his 122-pound title with a stoppage of Hugo Ruiz in 2015, and has also challenged for a bantamweight title throughout his career.

“I’m back and I’m more than ready to return to the ring,” said Ceja. “A Mexican vs. a Filipino is always guaranteed to be an exciting bout. I have even more motivation than ever being on a card headlined by Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol Spence Jr.. This fight is going to get me back into contending for a championship where I belong.”

Pacquiao on fight with Spence: ‘This is one of the biggest challenges in my career’

Throughout his illustrious career, Manny Pacquiao never took the easy way out. From 2008-2011, Pacquiao had some tough fights, including battles against Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, and Juan Manuel Marquez(2x).

During that timeframe, Pacquiao went 9-0.

In 2019, Pacquiao, at the age of 40, defeated then-undefeated WBA 147-pound champion Keith Thurman by split decision.

Now, at age 42, Pacquiao(62-7-2, 39 KOs) will try to defy the odds one more time when he battles unified WBC and IBF welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr.(27-0, 21 KOs) on August 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas(FOX PPV).

“There were a lot of opportunities for me to pick an easier fight than this,” he said at a press conference on Sunday. “But I picked Errol Spence Jr. because I want a real fight and a great fight for the fans. I’m a fighter, and boxing is my passion.

“Errol Spence Jr. is aggressive, young, and undefeated. He’s dedicated to his career. This is definitely not an easy opponent. This is the kind of opponent you can never underestimate.”

Pacquiao’s biggest fight in his career was a loss to Floyd Mayweather back in 2015, and recently, Mayweather said he would reach out to Spence to give him advice. However, according to Pacquiao, Spence won’t need that advice.

“I don’t think Errol needs advice from Floyd Mayweather,” Pacquiao said. “I believe that Errol is a better fighter than Mayweather. Errol can teach Floyd how to fight toe-to-toe.”

Pacquiao has been in with many great fighters over the years, and Spence will be one of the best he’s ever faced. The eight-division champion thinks the fight against Spence will be one of the biggest challenges of his career.

“I won’t predict another first-round knockdown like I had against Thurman,” Pacquiao said. “I’m focusing my mind, body, and spirit on winning the fight. That’s the only goal.

“This is one of the biggest challenges in my career. I can’t say it’s the biggest because I’ve been fighting the best fighters in the world for years. But he’s right up there with anyone I’ve faced.”

If Pacquiao can pull this one off, man, he could easily go down as the greatest of all time, especially when you consider his age and the type of fighter that he will battle on August 21.

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Pacquiao on fight with Spence: ‘It is going to be wild’

Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao takes on undefeated unified WBC and IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. in a blockbuster championship showdown that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday, August 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The pay-per-view will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will pit the division’s reigning king against a legend of the sport who has proven in recent years that he is still worthy of his long held standing. Spence will look to earn a legacy-defining victory, while Pacquiao seeks one more monumental win to add to his first ballot Hall of Fame resume.

Both fighters kick off the promotional campaign side by side this Sunday, July 11, when they’ll appear for a live televised press conference on FOX beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The hour-long program will feature commentary from former opponents Keith “One Time” Thurman and “Showtime” Shawn Porter, who will offer their analysis before Pacquiao and Spence return to their training camps.

This will be the fourth FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View headlined by Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), who unified welterweight titles in September 2019 by besting Shawn Porter in one of the best fights of the year. Spence was launched into stardom when the 31-year-old first captured a welterweight crown by traveling to the U.K. to stop Kell Brook in front of his hometown fans in 2017. He followed up his title-winning victory with triumphs over Lamont Peterson and Carlos Ocampo in 2018.

Fighting out of his native Desoto, Texas, Spence returned to the ring last December for the first time since miraculously surviving a car accident in October 2019 where he was thrown from the vehicle before it crashed. Spence thrilled his hometown crowd at AT&T Stadium by defeating two-division champion Danny Garcia by unanimous decision. Spence represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics before turning pro later that year and scoring knockouts in 10 of his first 12 fights, showing the promise that he would eventually fulfill on the biggest stages of the sport.

“I’ve been waiting on this kind of major boxing event my entire career,” said Spence. “Manny Pacquiao is a boxing legend and future Hall of Famer. To be able to match skills with him and come out with a victory would be the highlight of my career thus far. I’m coming to win and he’s coming to win and that’s what makes for an all-action fight. I can’t wait to step into the ring at T-Mobile Arena on August 21 in what I expect to be an exciting night.’’

A three-time Fighter of the Year and the one-time Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Decade, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), who hails from Sarangani Province in the Philippines, is the only sitting Congressman and Senator to win a world title. After serving two terms as Congressman, Pacquiao was elected to a Philippine Senate seat in May 2016, capturing over 16 million votes nationally. Pacquiao’s boxing resume features victories over at least seven current and future Hall of Famers, including Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.

In January 2019, Pacquiao put on a vintage performance against four-division champion Adrien Broner, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision in the 70th match of an illustrious career, which also marked his first time fighting back in the U.S. in two years. In his most recent performance Pacquiao added another Fight of the Year contender to his resume, as he dropped then unbeaten Keith Thurman in the first round on his way to a decision victory in a memorable action fight in July 2019.

“I am excited to be battling Errol Spence Jr.,” said Pacquiao. “Like me, Errol has an aggressive, all-action style of fighting.  Boxing fans watching at T-Mobile Arena or on pay-per-view are going to be happy with this world championship fight. It is going to be wild!”