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Who will Manny Pacquiao Fight Next?

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It seems the neverending list of opponents for Manny Pacquiao's "next fight" changes every weekend, especially after certain fighters have been in action. The most popular faces on that list currently belong to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Shane Mosley, Andre Berto, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Sergio Martinez. But what the hell, let’s throw in the likes of Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, Saul Alvarez, Devon Alexander, and Timothy Bradley.  

Of course, Mayweather’s face adorns the “most wanted” poster, but let’s forget about him -- for now -- since he’s not interested in the fight and might be wearing prison stripes soon.

The 39-year-old Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) is a strong possibility because he’s one of the most successful boxers of his era, with wins over such excellent fighters as Antonio Margarito, Fernando Vargas (twice), and Oscar De la Hoya (twice). But he’s also lost his share of big fights, most notably against Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright (twice), and the late Vernon Forrest (twice).

Mosley’s name sells tickets. But more importantly, if Pacquiao handpicks his opponents like many people believe he does, Mosley fits the bill perfectly because of his age and steadily fading skills.

A fight against the 27-year-old Berto (27-1, 20 KOs) may make the most sense because he’s a welterweight and Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach seem to prefer that weight zone. I just don’t know how big of a name he carries, especially outside of boxing circles. And speaking of names, who has Berto beaten? Juan Urango, Carlos Quintana, David Estrada, Steve Forbes, and Luis Collazo are all fine fighters, but not what you could call elite. I think before Berto earns a shot at Pacquiao he needs to beat a world-class opponent convincingly. Right now he doesn’t have drawing power.

Next on the list is Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs). If you saw his precision-punching demolition of Michael Katsidis on Nov. 27, you realize the 37-year-old is still one of the best fighters on the planet and age hasn’t slowed him down. Marquez and Pacquiao have already fought two exciting bouts before, with the first one ending in a draw and Pacquiao taking the rematch by a close split decision. If Marquez had won one more round on the 113-113 scorecard, he would have won the fight. However, the same argument can be made for Pacquiao.

Marquez desperately wants a third fight, but Pacquiao doesn’t seem interested -- saying the public isn’t interested. (Not exactly the best way to pump up excitement and pay-per-view buys.) That’s certainly not the case, especially after Marquez’s fight with Katsidis and the history and rivalry between him and Pacquiao. That’s what sells fights. The only problem I see with this fight: At what weight would it be fought? Marquez is a lightweight champion and comfortable there. Pacquaio’s looking for a welterweight so Marquez would be at a disadvantage unless a catch weight is introduced or they fight at Jr. Welterweight (140 lbs.)

The 35-year-old Sergio Martinez’s (46-2-2, 25 KOs) name has been mentioned because of his sensational one-punch knockout of Paul Williams. It’s an ideal matchup, but the weights don’t jibe. Martinez is a middleweight. While possible, a catch weight of about 154 lbs. maximum would be needed.

Going down to the Jr. welterweight level, we’ve got 23-year-old WBC and IBF champ Devon Alexander (23-0, 13 KOs) and 27-year-old WBO champ Timothy Bradley (26-0, 17 KOs) as potential opponents. We can scratch one of these from the list since they’re scheduled to face each other in January. The same can be said with 27-year-old Marcos Maidana (29-1, 27 KOs) and 23-year-old WBA champ Amir Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) because they’re set to square off on Dec. 11. The winners of these fights would make interesting opponents for the Pac Man, especially if they take care of business in style or by stoppages. Also, none of them should have much of a problem fighting at welterweight.

At this moment, it seems the public wants to see a Marquez vs. Pacquaio fight because of Marquez's recent activity and his past record with Pacquiao. If it doesn’t come off, many fans are sure to accuse Pacquiao of ducking him.  

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