Boxing Analysis: Manny Pacquiao's Next 3 Potential Opponents


By Nick Tylwalk

I tried and tried to think of a Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley post-fight post that would have some different angle to most of the things that were already written about the fight. It didn't work.

The naysayers were right: Mosley was too old and too slow to cope with Pac-Man.

To make matters worse, he basically admitted that once he tasted Manny's power, he wasn't willing to risk getting smashed by it again. Add in the fact that Manny said his legs were cramping and we ended up with a fight that featured fans booing for at least a third of the rounds.

So let's just move on. Pacquiao is going to fight again in the fall, and there's no point in getting our hopes up about it being against Floyd Mayweather. If it happens, it happens, but we should assume it won't.

Bob Arum has laid out three possible foes for Manny, all of whom pale in comparison to Mayweather. But if that fight isn't in the cards, he has to fight somebody. Let's take a look at how each of the three men on the shortlist stack up:

Juan Manuel Marquez

A third meeting with JMM is the most likely next fight for Pacquiao, but it's not a sure thing. With the feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy back in full effect, Marquez may have to wait until after February of next year to be free to take the fight. Think Golden Boy wouldn't do what it could to delay the bout just to stick it to Arum and company? I sure do.

If he gets the call, Marquez would seem to be the most competitive option for Pacquiao. After all, he gave Manny all he could handle in their first two fights, to the point that more than a few fans think he won both fights (I'm not one of them, for what it's worth).

Needless to say, though, a lot has changed in the last three years. It's easy to forget that the second Pacquiao-Marquez fight took place at 130 pounds, and Manny has won titles as much as four weight classes higher since then - though truthfully, welterweight or slightly below looks like the most weight he can actually carry.

JMM has had success in higher divisions as well, even displaying more stopping power than you'd expect as a lightweight. But he was simply too small to do anything when he fought Mayweather, and though he's willing to move up from 135 for his long-desired third shot at Pacquiao, it's a fair question to ask if he should.

Marquez is also 37, and would probably be 38 by the time he'd fight Pacquiao. He appears to have lost half a step, and that's not good when you are tangling with Pac-Man. He'd no doubt hit Pacquiao a lot more times than Mosley did, but he'd be just as likely to take more shots in return than in his first two tries.

That could end badly. I'm not opposed to a third go-round for JMM because you know he would go out on his shield if necessary. You know what? It just might be.

Timothy Bradley

It hasn't been the best year for the undefeated American who is the boxing equivalent of the Energizer bunny. His fight with Devon Alexander was a stinker (which wasn't entirely his fault), and if reports are to be believed, he may have priced himself out of a fight with Amir Khan.

Still, if he ends up in the ring with Pacquiao, all of those bad times will quickly go away. Bradley would go from underappreciated to household name in a hurry - especially if he won - and it would be the biggest payday of his career by a wide margin.

Bradley would certainly be a live dog against Pac-Man. He's a tireless worker, is always in fantastic shape and has no real weaknesses. The problem is that he has no truly elite characteristics either, so it's hard to point to one aspect of his game and say he'd have an obvious advantage over Pacquiao. In particular, Bradley isn't a huge puncher, so he'd probably have to beat Manny on the cards. It's possible but it wouldn't be easy.

And at the risk of flogging a dead horse, there are those head butts. Pacquiao and Mosley came close to some nasty head clashes a couple of times, and that was even with Shane backing up the vast majority of the time. Now replace Mosley with Bradley and imagine Pac-Man leaping in at the same time Bradley is leading with his noggin. That could be ugly.

Despite those drawbacks, you could certainly sell a fight between Pacquiao and an undefeated American. Assuming Mayweather isn't an option, Bradley would be the next best thing.

Zab Judah

Could it be a case of right place, right time for Super Judah? Hey, it worked out that way for Mosley and Joshua Clottey.

Zab has enjoyed something of a career resurgence over the past 18 months, performing at a level close to his peak form and seemingly having his head screwed on straight for an extended period of time. He's no spring chicken but isn't washed up either - he's just a tad more than a year older than Pacquiao.

Judah also is a marketable name with some street cred among casual fans. He's legitimately bigger than Pac-Man and has very fast hands, though not quite as fast as Pacquiao's.

In contrast to the two men above, Judah also has the kind of fight-ending power that would enable him to turn things around with one big shot. He has the kind of puncher's chance Mosley thought he had, and almost certainly is more dangerous than Sugar Shane at this point in their respective careers.

This seems like it would be the easiest fight to make from a contractual standpoint, as Judah should and likely would be extremely grateful for the opportunity. I never dreamed this would be a fight that would ever be discussed, but that's boxing for you.


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