Manny Pacquiao is facing a very unique dilemma right now.
Over the past five years, he’s taken on and defeated just about all of the biggest and best fighters boxing has to offer. Some of his wins came via close decisions, others came via not-so-close decisions, and a precious few came via knockout – but the underlying theme has largely stayed the same.
He won. (Even in defeat, he was the real winner.)
The problem with consistently winning, however, is that eventually you run out of people to beat. At a certain point, if all you do is rack up one victory after another, you eventually reach the end of the line as far as credible, worthy opponents go. And when you reach the end of that line, your opponents begin to either repeat or become a lot less worthy.
We’ve seen examples of both cases over the past year in Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley.
Marquez was a very worthy opponent for Pacquiao, but he was also one that the Filipino champ had taken on twice before. How many times does one need to fight the same guy before the point is made that he’s better?
And on the other side of the spectrum, there was the fighter who wasn’t worthy of a shot (Bradley), but got it anyway thanks to a signing deal with Bob Arum.
In both cases, Pacquiao was essentially forced into those fights because there were no better options available. Now, some would argue that perhaps he could’ve taken on Sergio Martinez – but there are varying opinions on how good of a fight that would be. Martinez would have to drop in weight dramatically, and it’s impossible to say whether or not he’d even be the same sort of fighter at that point. Similarly, you could make the case that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was a viable option – but both Manny and Floyd are responsible for that not happening.
Which brings us to the here and now. Once again, Pacquiao finds himself in the precarious situation of choosing from a group of meh-ish potential opponents. This November, it’s either going to be Pacquiao-Bradley II or Pacquiao-Marquez IV.
Recently, Pacquiao’s trusted trainer Freddie Roach offered his take on the situation:
“I think every time they [Marquez and Pacquiao] fight each other, it's less entertaining, they know each other so well,” he said. “Three times is enough for me.”
It’s a fair point. Three fights is already a lot – four feels like its pushing it.
At this point, we do sort of know what’s going to happen with Pacquiao and Marquez. The latter fighter’s style is perfectly suited to give Pacquiao fits, so he’ll give him just as much trouble in their fourth showdown as he did in their first three. No doubt about it. That said, if you couldn’t beat a guy on three separate occasions, do you really deserve a fourth shot?
Then again, it’s hard to imagine Pacquiao-Marquez IV being any more dull than Pacquiao-Bradley was and Pacquiao-Bradley II inevitably will be.
What do you think: given the option of either Pacquiao-Marquez IV or Pacquiao-Bradley II, what would you rather see? What would be more entertaining?