Manny Pacquiao knows a thing or two about hard punching — he’s the only former flyweight champion to win a title at super welterweight — and it’s that reason that he’s picking Deontay Wilder to defeat Tyson Fury when they meet for the WBC and lineal heavyweight titles on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, the Filipino Senator who has won world titles in a record eight weight classes, told Yahoo Sports in a brief telephone interview Tuesday from his home in General Santos City in the Philippines that he admires Wilder’s style.
“I like Wilder because of that power and he is always looking to get the knockout,” said Pacquiao, whose WBA welterweight title-winning effort on July 20 against Keith Thurman improved his record to 62-7-2. “Wilder makes exciting fights. He gives the people a good fight all the time. He reminds me of [former undisputed heavyweight champion] Mike Tyson because when he hits people [they go out].”
Wilder, the WBC champion, is a minus 125 favorite over Fury at the MGM Grand Sports Book. Wilder by KO is plus 140 while Wilder by decision is plus 700. Fury by decision is plus 150 while Fury by KO is plus 550.
Fury is probably the best pure boxer in the heavyweight division, but Pacquiao doesn’t see it making much of a difference.
“In boxing, it’s an advantage if you are a good boxer, but when you have a strong opponent like Wilder, it can change your style,” Pacquiao said. “It changes your focus because you have to worry about that power. Strength is a big factor.”
There have been rumors that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather may rematch their 2015 fight that Mayweather won by decision, and that it could be promoted by Dana White’s new Zuffa Boxing entity.
If the fight is made, and it probably remains a long shot, it makes sense for it to be the first boxing event held at Allegiant Stadium, which is the new home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
Pacquiao, of course, is all in.
“I love it,” he said. “I love it. Let’s do it. That would be a great fight for the people.”
More from Yahoo Sports: