Manny Pacquiao will fight at some point in 2013, that is more or less etched in stone at this point. The only lingering question now is who his next opponent will be. Thus far, the candidates who have been mentioned all fall into one of two camps: guys that the Filipino star may actually fight and guys who hope that he will fight them.
In reality there are only a handful of legitimate options to take on Pacquiao, and if you’re in that second camp, you’re not one of those options.
Prior to Pacquiao’s fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, back when everyone assumed that at worst he would lose a decision to his rival, Brandon Rios emerged as a potential contender for his first bout of 2013. This idea got something of a boost when Bob Arum suggested that Rios would be a favorite to land a spot opposite Pacquiao if he could beat Mike Alvarado. Well, Rios did his part – unfortunately things didn’t pan out on the other end of the spectrum.
At the moment, all signs point to Pacquiao and Marquez meeting for a fifth time right around September of this year. However, Rios is still very open to the idea of taking on the Filipino star – if the opportunity arises.
“Hey why not, he has a big name, I want to show the world what I can do to the big dogs,” Rios told Diamond Boxing recently. “I know that he wants Marquez again but shit like you said, I ain’t hard to find. I’m right here, let’s get it on.”
Rios also weighed in on Pacquiao-Marquez IV: “It was a great fight, Marquez did everything right. Pacquiao was open for that shot, and Marquez did a great job at countering him.”
Heading into this week, there were two prominent rumors floating around about what was next for Pacquiao. One had him retiring because of health concerns, the other centered around him and Marquez meeting again.
"I am doing good. God is good," Pacquiao told the Manila Bulletin (via ESPN) in regards to the first rumor.
"I will be the one to say that I will retire from boxing because I am the one who knows and feels what my body is telling me."
Shortly thereafter, Fred Sternburg, spokesman for Top Rank, Arum's promotion company, said this of Pacquiao-Marquez V:
"He's (Pacquiao) indicated he will fight again. Bob (Arum) has indicated (that it would be) September...Between the suspension and the election and campaign in Philippines, we think we can do it…I think they can do it. Bob has stated it over and over. The fight did so well financially, it is a no-brainer."
For his part, Rios is already has a Plan B in mind – a rematch against Alvarado.
“Honestly that may be what they are working on, for March 30th, World War II is what I am calling that fight right now,” he told Diamond Boxing. “I am glad that you and so many people out there enjoyed it. I watch it all the time, I love that s**t. But yeah if the money is right and if everything goes into play, why not, I’m down for that.”
Pacquiao will only fight once this year, and that bout figures to come against Marquez. As intriguing as a showdown against Rios might be, there doesn’t appear to be any room in anyone’s calendar for that particular match-up.