Manny Pacquiao to Fight Either Brandon Rios or Robert Guerrero?

Juan Manuel Marquez has decided to duck Manny Pacquiao. There is still time for the 39-year-old star to change his mind and give fans what they want, but at the moment it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Realistically, the only logical next step for Pacquiao and his team at this point is to move forward working under the assumption that their 2013 calendar is completely clear.

Prior to talk of a fifth Pacquiao-Marquez bout really heating up, the opponent that Bob Arum seemed most excited about pitting his star against was Brandon Rios. You will recall, late last year, the Top Rank boss indicated that if Pacquiao and Rios won their respective end-of-2012 fights, there was a very good chance they would meet in early 2013. Well, Rios did his part. Even after Pacquiao got knocked out by Marquez, though, Rios indicated a desire to fight the Filipino star – presuming that was still an option.

Apparently it is.

During a recent interview, Freddie Roach discussed a couple of potential foes for his No. 1 fighter. The top two names on his list? Rios and Robert Guerrero. (And seeing as Floyd Mayweather Jr. has made the befuddling decision to fight Devon Alexander this May, Guerrero is actually a viable option now.)    

"I think (Brandon) Rios is the more compelling fighter. He's really, really action-packed. He's an aggressive young kid. He talks a lot of smack. He sells some tickets, I think. Robert Guerrero's a good friend of mine. He's helped me out. He defended me when Amir Khan said crazy stuff about me. I thank him for that," Freddie Roach told Fight Hub TV (via Bad Left Hook).

Is Rios the more compelling fighter? Maybe. He is definitely the worse fighter. That’s not to say he isn’t talented – he clearly is. Guerrero just happens to be better at this stage of his career. And it would seem that’s part of the reason why Roach is leaning moreso towards Rios. When asked if Guerrero made him nervous, the legendary trainer said this:

"He might, because he has the experience of being in there with many. Him and Victor Ortiz is another one. Victor Ortiz came in here -- Manny and Victor Ortiz probably had the best sparring sessions that you ever saw in these rings. It was unbelievable back then, back and forth. I'm friends with him also. But the thing is, I'd rather fight competitors like Brandon Rios, and let him mouth off a little bit, and then shut him up."

Related: Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are Destined for a September 2013 Fight

Frankly, Pacquiao-Marquez V not coming to fruition isn’t the worst thing in the world. Would it have been nice to put a bow on this set of fights? Sure. Is it unfortunate that an otherwise spectacular rivalry is ending on such a sour note? No doubt. But if fans’ consolation prize is Pacquiao fighting either Rios or Guerrero this year (or both), everybody ends up winning here anyway.

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