After Manny Pacquiao knocks Juan Manuel Marquez out on November 12, a groundswell of candidates would ideally pop up for him to choose from. After all, there should be countless fighters chomping at the bit for the opportunity to go against and, ideally, beat the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, right?
Not so much, apparently. In the boxing world we now live in, primetime fighters are few and far between. As a result, timeless icons like Pacquiao are relegated to fighting has-beens, nameless wannabes or proven cheaters. The Filipino champion always wins, of course, because he is that good and the competition is subpar – but it always leaves the fans longing for more.
The prevailing hope out there was that after handily defeating Marquez on their third go-around in November, Pacquiao would finally face off against a legitimate challenger. Perhaps undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. or -- a slimmer version of -- the widely accepted No. 3 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world in Sergio Martinez.
Recent events have made those two unlikely candidates for match against Pacquiao, though. Mayweather has repeatedly resisted entering any serious negotiations with his Filipino counterpart or any of Top Rank’s executives. Instead, he appears content throwing shots at his rival from afar and counting his massive stacks of $100 bills. Martinez, on the other hand, is coming off an uninspired performance against an inferior opponent that has led many to wonder if he even deserves a shot at Pacquiao.
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Now there’s speculation floating around that Timothy Bradley, by virtue of his signing with Top Rank, is next in line to face off against the company’s biggest star. In a conversation with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Bradley’s manager Cameron Dunkin tried to debunk any theories of a promised match against Pacquiao being used to lure his star fighter into the Top Rank tent.
“This really has nothing to do with Pacquiao,” Dunkin said. “Hey, if he gets the Pacquiao fight, great, but this was about Timmy being promoted. Conference calls, press conferences, open workouts, appearances, all those kinds of things, that’s what this is about, about getting Timmy’s name out there and building him.
“He needs that and that’s what this is about. They’ve committed to doing it for him and Top Rank is very good at doing that. The Pacquiao thing is great if it happens, but this was about what’s best for his career.”
The lip service is all well and good, but the notion that a potential fight against Pacquiao was brought up in negotiations doesn’t pass the smell test. Mind you, Bradley is regarded as the No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by Ring Magazine. As such, he is no doubt scoping out opponents that could help him slowly but surely rise through the rankings.
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Someone like Pacquiao, perhaps?
The problem is that Bradley is simply not in the Filipino champion’s league, in terms of talent or fan interest. The disparity between the top three fighters on most of the pound-for-pound charts and the rest of the top 10 is massive – and the idea that just because Bradley is among Top Rank’s stable of talent he automatically gets free entrance into a main event with Pacquiao is ludicrious.
He will get destroyed.
This is a guy who has fought twice since 2010, with each bout more boring and dull than its predecessor. His January match against Devon Alexander, which was hyped as a potential Fight of the Year candidate going in, ended up being a snoozer highlighted by Alexander having to go out due to a headbutt. The fight was lackluster, to say the least, and hardly established Bradley as any sort of force to be reckoned with in the boxing community.
Moreover, Bradley avoidance of Amir Khan is similarly unnerving, and another strike against him supposedly being the heir apparent to face Pacquiao after the Marquez fight.
Plain and simple, Pacquiao, who’s career is approaching its final turn, deserves a real opponent. Bradley does not fit the bill.
Ideally, Pacquiao and Mayweather would patch things up and work out their aggression in the ring. If that isn’t a realistic possibility, then fans would settle for a 150-pound Martinez taking his best shot at the No. 1 pound-for-pounder.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley in 2012, though? Thanks, but no thanks.