Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will fight this year, but you can’t blame Bob Arum for wanting a backup plan.
In the days following his brutal knockout loss to Marquez, Pacquiao made it clear that the only thing on his mind was redemption. While everyone else was questioning his skills and various Filipino doctors were wondering if he was developing Parkinson’s, the former champ’s focus never shifted from its primary target: securing a rematch against Marquez.
Theoretically, getting Marquez to agree to a fifth fight shouldn’t have been very hard. Pacquiao granted him two different rematches over the last few years and, naturally, he expected his counterpart to return the favor. Which Marquez ultimately did. Sort of.
After initially making it seem like he wasn’t interested in a fifth fight, mostly to gain leverage in negotiations, Marquez acknowledged that that he would in fact be willing to grant Pacquiao a rematch – at the right price. Whereas Pacquiao took home $23 million for getting dropped in the sixth round of last December's showdown, Marquez earned $6 million. That math didn’t work for Marquez, and he said this much in his recent meeting with Arum.
Chances are, Pacquiao and Marquez will come to terms on a bout at some point within the next few weeks. A happy medium will be found – Marquez will get a little more than he got in his last match, Pacquiao a little less.
To the victor go the spoils, and Pacquiao wasn’t the victor last time. He should take a pay cut.
Even though Arum has sounded confident about a deal getting worked out between Pacquiao and Marquez this year, he isn’t so cocky about it that he doesn’t have a backup plan. During a recent interview with Boxing Scene, the Top Rank boss said that he wouldn’t be opposed to adding Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios into the equation if he can’t put together the fight he is hoping to put together this year.
“Well, first [Timothy Bradley] has to beat [Ruslan] Provodnikov. If he beats Provodnikov and Rios beats Alvarado and then we’ll see what Manny [Pacquiao] and [Juan Manuel] Marquez will do. So I got four guys and we’ll mix and match. If Marquez and Manny decide to fight this year, then I’ll try to make Rios and Bradley. If Manny and Marquez won’t fight this year, one of them can fight Bradley and the other can fight Rios. So we got a lot of options there” he said.
While Pacquiao-Rios has the potential to be a very intriguing bout, it’s not going to happen. Arum realizes that the risk isn’t worth the reward there. Pacquiao will make a lot more money in a fifth fight against Marquez, and he has a far better shot at beating him than he does Rios. (Which means more money for Arum.)
Pacquiao and Marquez will square off this year because, despite what anyone says, it’s the only showdown that makes sense for both at this stage in the game.