Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley: Risks and Rewards

| by Alex Groberman

Manny Pacquiao will decide on his next opponent in a matter of weeks.

At 33 years of age, the Filipino champ simply doesn’t have time to waste on a bad fight right now. He’s going have to weigh the risks and rewards that come with each of his potential foes, and then he’s going to need to pick someone who he deems to be worthy and who the fans will deem to be worthy.

This is a big decision, no doubt about it.

Coming off his shocking loss to Timothy Bradley this past June, it looked like a rematch between the pair was imminent. It just sort of made sense from every imaginable standpoint, and it permitted Pacquiao to “redeem” himself, even though nobody really felt like he needed to be redeemed after that embarrassing decision.

As memories of Pacquiao-Bradley began to fade, though, new names began to frequently be cited as candidates for Manny’s Nov. 10 fight. There were initially some murmurs about Floyd Mayweather Jr. being an option – but that’s obviously ridiculous. Mayweather is fresh out of jail and not in the shape necessary (mentally or physically) to participate in the biggest, toughest match of his career.

The actual candidates for Nov. 10, not the fantasy world ones, are Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto. Recently, Top Rank boss Bob Arum spoke with Dan Rafael of ESPN regarding the financial pluses and minuses that each potential foe brings to the table.

"Cotto brings with him a huge fan base from Puerto Rico and Marquez also has a big fan base with the Hispanics fans," Arum said.

"Marquez did 400,000 buys more than Bradley. That fight did a little better than 900,000, so I have to consider that. And Marquez is very anxious for the fight, too. With Bradley, the general sports fan, at least anecdotally, wants them to have a rematch. People I go out to dinner with or people I visit with, they all talk about the rematch with Bradley, not a fourth fight with Marquez -- but they aren't Hispanics. The Hispanic fans are the ones who want the fourth fight with Marquez."

When Pacquiao and Cotto threw down in 2009, their bout did 1.25 million buys – also substantially better than what the Bradley fight brought in.

So if we’re following the money trail, Pacquiao will pick Marquez or Cotto…right? Maybe not. As he’s trying to figure out his next move, it’s important to realize that Manny is weighing the risks and rewards involved with every potential opponent.

It can't just be about money. It can't just be about losses.

Everything must be accounted for.

Sure, he may squeeze an extra 400,000 buys out of another fight with Marquez, but are those extra buys worth a second consecutive loss to Pacquiao? Yeah, he would be the overwhelming favorite in fourth bout, but we all know these guys' history. Marquez has that irritating style that just frustrates Manny to no end; plus, after three failures, isn’t the underdog kind of going to be due for a win?

Similarly, Cotto is coming off a really impressive showing against Mayweather. Granted, he sort of faded late in that fight and allowed his undefeated counterpart to pick him apart at the end; but for the first eight or so rounds, Cotto was impressive. Is an extra 300,000 buys worth the risk that would come with Cotto?

Maybe the answer is yes, maybe it isn’t. Either way, though, the need to cautiously proceed and weigh each option is probably why Pacquiao’s decision has taken as long as it has.

Last week, we came out and openly wondered why an opponent hadn't been picked yet. That was sort of hasty. After Arum’s most recent statements – the delay makes sense.

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