After his brutal loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, there were serious questions about whether Manny Pacquiao should ever fight again. These questions didnâ€™t just come from writers, analysts and fans. They came from Pacquiaoâ€™s own family and associates. His wife. His mother. His long-time trainer. The notion of Pacquiao calling it quits seemed very realistic in the latter weeks of 2012.
Then it got squashed at the beginning of 2013.
In a series of not-very-official interviews, Top Rank boss Bob Arum came out and indicated that Pacquiao would fight at least once more. Despite the punishment he absorbed in that last bout, regardless of what anyone said, the Filipino star was destined to do battle at least one more time in the new year. Arum made it seem like Pacquiaoâ€™s foe would be Marquez; however, in the last week and change numerous other candidates have been tossed around. Robert Guerrero, Brandon Rios â€“ theyâ€™re all viable options, supposedly.
The one thing that made Marquez the most likely opponent for Pacquiao in 2013 was everyoneâ€™s insistence that the Filipino star would only fight once this year. That he would train until September, take on one guy, and then assess his career from there.
Well, apparently thatâ€™s no longer etched in stone.
In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Arum said that there was a very real chance that Pacquiao might end up fighting twice this year.
â€śWhile I was on vacation (in Cape Town, South Africa), (Pacquiao adviser) Michael (Koncz) reached out to (Top Rank matchmaker) Bruce Trampler, saying they want to fight in April,â€ť he said.
What would this mean? Well, it would mean that Pacquiao would take on someone in the first half of the year, and then do battle with Marquez for a fifth time at some point late in 2013. (Like he did this year.)
The natural question when you hear that is: then why not just let Pacquiao and Marquez fight in April? Well, apparently because Top Rank wants to stage Pacquiao-Marquez V 'during the height of celebration of Mexican Independence.'
â€śThis is a more important celebration among Mexicans compared to the Cinco de Mayo (festivities),â€ť he said.
Of course, there are some technical matters to get around. For example, Pacquiao was banned from fighting for four months and banned from engaging in any contact for three months by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NSAC).
â€śIt didnâ€™t say that he canâ€™t train,â€ť Arum offered.
Well, that answers that. But what about Pacquiaoâ€™s April opponent. Who could they possibly find that would take the Filipino star on at this point?
Rios would seem to be a logical option. He is in talks for a rematch against Mike Alvarado, but is there any doubt he would drop that instantly for a shot at Pacquiao?
During a recent interview with Ring TV, he said this of wanting a shot at the Filipino star:
"It does suck for me, because I was in line to fight Pacquiao, or the winner of that fight. So we thought Pacquiao was going to win. That just sucks, because, now, it seems like he wants to go and fight Marquez again for the fifth time, so that kind of blows. but there's nothing I can do about it," said Rios.
"So that's part of boxing. I know that Marquez won't give me a shot because there's no money in it between me and him. I think that at the age of 39, that he's looking at retirement money for himself. So maybe that's why that's giving Pacquiao the fifth fight. Pacquiao gave him the fourth, so maybe that's why he's giving him the fifth. So I have to see what is out there for me next."
Pacquiao in April might be whatâ€™s next.
At the end of the day, after all the caution and safety talk, Pacquiao could end up back on the same two fight-per-year schedule this year that he's been on since 2009. Figures.