Barring something totally unforeseen happening on Dec. 8, Manny Pacquiao will likely emerge victorious from his fourth and final showdown versus Juan Manuel Marquez. The question on everyone’s mind now is: who should he fight next?
Is Floyd Mayweather Jr. a realistic option? Could we get that much ballyhooed Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II showdown? Are there any dark horse options? We break down the likeliest possibilities in the slides ahead.
Miguel Cotto Wins: 37 KOs: 30
Miguel Cotto had the option of fighting Manny Pacquiao this December and ultimately opted not to. He cited weight concerns and financial disagreements, but the real reason for his hesitancy was bright as day. He didn’t want to take a beating similar to the one he took on the first go-round. (Although, admittedly, he did make some pretty notable weight sacrifices in that bout.)
Will he change his mind in 2013 and step up for one last chance at the Filipino champ? Maybe. But by that point it will be too late. The only way Pacquiao-Cotto II happens is if every other legitimate potential foe Top Rank is currently considering backs out.
Wins: 29 KOs: 12
The rematch that absolutely nobody wants to see could still happen. Yes there were some mean words exchanged and feelings hurt when Manny Pacquiao spurned his last opponent for a fourth bout against Marquez, however, boxers tend to forgive quickly. (Remember how fierce the Pacquiao-Mayweather war of words was just a year ago?)
If Manny extends an olive branch, Timothy Bradley will accept. There is no way he will get a larger pay day fighting anyone else. And don’t forget: we were very close to getting Pacquiao-Bradley II instead of Pacquiao-Marquez IV. Very close.
Wins: 31 KOs: 23
Bob Arum said that the winner of this month’s Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado showdown might end up facing Manny Pacquiao, and Rios ultimately won that match in dominant fashion. Does he have what it takes to upset Manny? Probably not. But both from a stylistic and financial standpoint, he makes a lot more sense than Bradley.
Wins: 43 KOs: 26
This is the only fight that both diehard and casual boxing fans would kill to see. The only one. Even though Manny Pacquiao’s and Floyd Mayweather’s relationship has never been better, we still haven’t seen any legitimate movement towards an agreement yet.
Can 50 Cent be the man who makes it happen? Will Manny’s enthusiasm and willingness to make sacrifices turn this fantasy into a reality? It’s tough to say. There hasn’t been a whole lot coming from Mayweather’s camp since he got out of jail.
Speaking of Mayweather’s bit in jail, by the way, here is another concern nobody seems to be talking about: this is a guy who hasn’t fought since May. Sure, he has proven that he can take extended sabbaticals and come back strong – but doing it at 32 and doing it at 35 are very different things. There is a reasonable debate to be had about whether or not Mayweather would even be prepared to fight someone of Pacquiao’s caliber without a tune-up in early 2013.