Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will not fight until, at the soonest, late 2012. More likely than not, though, their ongoing drama will live on through 2013 and beyond. The question at this point is: what path could both fighters take in order to eventually meet? That’s what we aim to figure out in the analysis below.
Pacquiao’s next fight will be against Timothy Bradley on June 9th of this year. Before he and Mayweather gave us the attention-whoring song and dance that captivated our world in late 2011 and early 2012, that’s the fight most envisioned him accepting. It’s generally presumed that the Filipino champion will have no problems taking out Bradley, an athletic talent with zero in the way of knockout (KO) power. The odds reflect that belief. But where does Pacquiao go after his bout versus Bradley?
The rumored non-Mayweather opponents this latest time around were Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez and Lamont Peterson. Of that group, Cotto and Peterson each have fights scheduled that very well could jeopardize their standing as potential contenders to fight Pacquiao. Meanwhile, Marquez will likely win his next fight – but his age and Paquiao’s wariness of his style makes this possible showdown questionable.
Peterson is slated to fight Amir Khan on May 19 in a rematch of the pair’s controversial Dec. 10th dance. Cotto is set to go against Mayweather on May 5. Whereas Khan vs. Peterson could go either way, Cotto doesn’t have a shot at handing Mayweather his first loss. And in that spirit, there is also no shot of Pacquiao agreeing to fight Cotto after he has just lost to Mayweather – so that takes Cotto out of the sweepstakes.
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Marquez, meanwhile, is slated to take on Sergey Fedchenko on April 14. Should he win this showdown, his name would once again be floated in a possible Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV bout; but there are questions about how much the Filipino champion would actually want to participate. It seems like he’s more or less come to terms with the fact that Marquez will always give him trouble. So, with that in mind, rather than risk a loss versus Marquez – wouldn’t it make more sense to simply agree to fight Mayweather? Slightly larger risk for a substantially greater reward. (Presuming Mayweather offers a fair split.)
Pacquiao has three legit options in terms of his late 2012 opponents, not including Sergio Martinez (despite him saying that he’d come down in weight) and Khan (who Freddie Roach doesn’t want him to fight). The options are: Peterson (if he beats Khan), Marquez (if he beats Fedchenko) and Mayweather. Should the first two options lose their next bouts – the prospect of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather to close out the year becomes very likely.
On the other side of the equation, Mayweather will find himself in a similar predicament following the Cotto fight. Outside of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Khan – there is really nobody else for him to square off against in late 2012 either. Alvarez will likely remain a strong option for Mayweather come year’s end, but a fight versus Khan is contingent on a.) Khan’s showing versus Peterson and b.) whether Mayweather feels risking a loss to Khan is worth sacrificing a certain amount of the purse to Pacquiao in that potential showdown. There is no way Mayweather would fight Khan if he was coming off a loss to Peterson. At the same time, Khan is also a formidable enough a foe to make Mayweather wary of risking his undefeated mark against him either way.
It would make sense for Pacquiao and Mayweather to find themselves in a scenario around the middle of this year where they realize they have no choice but to fight one another.
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Whether or not that actually results in them fighting a whole different story, though.