Manny Pacquiao’s fifth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez will be officially arranged at some point within the next few weeks. Both fighters have come to terms with the fact that this is the only bout that makes sense right now, and neither is willing to sacrifice the potential financial benefits for the sake of pride. After a bit of initial bluffing and posturing, Marquez’s healthy meeting with Bob Arum last week likely sealed the deal.
From the very beginning, Marquez’s claims that he would not fight Pacquiao a fifth time were regarded as a negotiating tactic by most people in the Filipino champ’s camp. And rightly so. While boxing fans everywhere panicked over the prospect of not seeing a rematch of last December’s fantastic bout, Top Rank worked behind the scenes to make it a reality. Surely enough, a few days ago, after Marquez’s meeting with Arum, his promoter Fernando Beltran made a very telling public concession.
"I believe he deserves [at least $10 million or more]. We have to make a decision by April [on his next fight] and then we'll make the announcement on who he will fight in September. However, putting Marquez and Pacquiao together is the only combination that produces an attractive financial figure for Juan Manuel," Fernando Beltran told Boxing Scene.
And that’s that. Money speaks loudly in boxing. There is no way a 39-year-old who, at most, has two bouts ahead of him, passes up on the biggest pay day of his career. No. Way.
An interesting thing to think about as we head into the lull period between the fifth fight being agreed to and when it actually happens: what will Pacquiao’s next move be?
If he loses to Marquez, his next move is clear – the Filipino star will hang up his gloves. Three losses in as many fights, even if one of them was totally illegitimate and the byproduct of awful judging, is a hole no superstar boxer can climb out of. Pacquiao won’t be forced to retire, per se, but his days as a big time headliner who draws massive pay-per-view totals will be far behind him. At best, he’ll be a stepping stone for boxing’s up and comers like Oscar de la Hoya was towards the end. At worst, he will be a medical tragedy waiting to happen.
If he beats Marquez, however, then things get intriguing. The obvious next match after that would be him versus Brandon Rios. (Assuming the 26-year-old can get past Mike Alvarado on their second go-round.) That was the fight Arum was planning to make if his guy had been able to get past Marquez last December. The question is: does Pacquiao want to chance it with a guy like Rios? Whereas taking on someone with zero knockout power like Timothy Bradley isn’t especially risky unless judges are looking to screw you, taking on a guy like Rios could end your career pretty quickly. And seeing as Rios isn’t a big name fighter yet, it’s only natural to wonder if the risk is worth the reward.
A far more sensible option, clearly, would be fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. With his new Showtime deal requiring him to fight twice a year for the foreseeable future, Mayweather desperately needs opponents who are capable of generating PPV buys. Pacquiao fits the bill. At the same time, this would make perfect sense for Pacquiao because the payday in this one would justify the risk. Could Mayweather end his career? Sure. But at least he’d go out with a nifty paycheck – as opposed to what he would earn in the Rios fight.
Obviously everything is contingent on what happens in the fifth Marquez showdown. If Pacquiao loses that, all of this is moot. That being said, keep an eye on Mayweather’s fight plans for the next year, because chances are he will probably leave himself a bit of wiggle room to at least entertain the possibility of fighting Pacquiao in 2014.