Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez pretending as though they aren’t going to fight each other this September is fine. In theory, it doesn’t hurt anyone. Fans caught on to their little game a long time ago. The negotiators who will ultimately make this bout happen are currently hard at work doing just that, despite what either fighter says publicly. And barring some totally unforeseen catastrophe messing everything up, this thing is going down as planned at some point towards the end of 2013.
The only problem with all of this non-stop posturing and gamesmanship, really, is that it gives false hope to the potential opponents that Pacquiao and Marquez are using as pawns. Bob Arum noted that he was considering a pool of three people when determining possible alternative match-ups: Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley. Any of them, per the Top Rank boss, could be pitted against Pacquiao and Marquez this year. In all likelihood, though, the first two names on that list will fight each other again for a third time.
Realistically, the only real possible option for Pacquiao and Marquez if they opt not to square off against one another is Bradley. And both men are doing their part to make it seem like they’re seriously looking at him like a feasible option.
“It motivates me more to look for a fifth divisional championship. I believe that any sportsman or professional wants to achieve certain goals and that's why another belt inspires me more. And what's better than facing an opponent - who for me is a great fighter, tough and difficult, like Timothy Bradley." Marquez said during a recent interview with Boxing Scene.
He added: “My family has the last word [on my future]. I am not a puppet for anybody. I will not allow myself to move forward based on what a promoter or other [industry] people say. My decision [regarding the future of my career] is firm - if it is no then it is no and if it is yes, then it is yes. The surest thing is that there will not be a fifth fight with Manny Pacquiao, and yes there will be a [fight for a] fifth championship.”
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s long time advisor, said something very similar regarding his guy’s next bout: "[Timothy] Bradley had a very good showing his last fight out, and maybe [Mike] Alvarado, and there are some other guys out there. We haven't really sat down to finalize an opponent, because we're still working on the venue."
The reality is that neither of these guys will fight Bradley next. While the 29-year-old put up a valiant effort versus Ruslan Provodnikov, there is something to be said for his lack of PPV appeal. His bout against Pacquiao didn’t come close to doing what Pacquiao-Marquez III and IV did, and it’s unlikely that a showdown against Marquez would result in anything different.
At 34 and 39 years old, respectively, Pacquiao and Marquez need to maximize their paydays right now, not minimize them. Which means that while they’ll happily use Bradley for leverage as they're negotiating against one another, the odds of either fighting him right now are slim.
Bradley shouldn’t be used as a pawn in this little game Pacquiao and Marquez are playing. He is coming off a big victory and needs to capitalize off that with another good fight. If he and his reps are smart, they’ll come out and reject matches against both Pacquiao and Marquez right now, and they’ll look to set something up that will allow him to keep his hot streak going.