Juan Manuel Marquez Still Ducking Manny Pacquiao, May Fight Brandon Rios

| by Alex Groberman

Everyone seems confident that a fifth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will in fact take place. Everyone besides Juan Manuel Marquez, that is.

For more than two weeks the 39-year-old has told anyone who would listen about his plans to not fight his Filipino arch rival. Despite the fact that this bout makes all the sense in the world, regardless of how much the public wants it, even though doing so makes him look terrible, Marquez appears intent on ducking the guy who granted him three different rematches before he finally earned a win.

Marquez defeating Pacquiao, in theory, shouldn’t have especially shocking. He is one of the most underrated fighters of his generation, and his style has always been troublesome for the former champ. When Marquez entered camp boasting his most impressive and massive physique in recent memory, everybody realized that he would finally put some legitimate power behind those already imposing counters.

What truly stunned everyone this past December wasn’t Marquez winning – it was how he won.

Pacquiao fought the better fight 90 percent of the way. He landed more punches. He did his damage more efficiently. Every single judge had him winning heading into the final second of the sixth round. And then, boom. The knockout heard around the world. Marquez taking it in such commanding fashion after having been outdueled for most of the match is why everyone wants a rematch. And it’s also why Marquez should personally feel the need to prove himself with another victory.

Related: Manny Pacquiao Should Stop Being Greedy and Fight in Either United States or Manila

But he doesn’t.

"I think for me there is no point [in a fifth fight]. We already achieved the desired result. Then why do it? So I also asked several people, several friends that I have around me and they told me not to do it, that there is no point in a fifth fight. I said before the fourth fight that no matter how this fight ends, there cannot be a fifth," he said a few weeks back.

After he said that, most chalked up Marquez’s sentiments there to a negotiating bluff. He wants to fight Pacquiao, people said, but he is leveraging the threat of not doing so for better terms.

Maybe. Maybe not.

During a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Nacho Beristain said this of who his guy is targeting for this September:  "Personally, I am not convinced by the idea that Juan should fight Pacquiao again. We are interested in facing a puncher, a fighter like Brandon Rios. Juan has planned to hold two more bouts before retiring. Most likely he will fight in September, but the last word belongs to [Top Rank's CEO] Bob Arum.”

Show of hands, who out there wants to see Marquez fight Brandon Rios? Heck, Pacquiao versus Rios would be a more entertaining match than Marquez versus Rios.

It still seems unlikely that Marquez will really end up ducking Pacquiao this year. But the more he and his reps talk, the less preposterous the idea becomes.

Related: Manny Pacquiao Wants to Fight in China Because ‘They Never Heard of Mayweather’