Manny Pacquiao will fight twice in 2013. His second fight of the year will take place in September and come against Juan Manuel Marquez. His first will be at some point towards the end of April, and will likely feature an opponent whose style is conducive to a beat down from the Filipino star. No expert counterpunchers. No ultra-athletic speedsters who have the ability to steal a decision on points.
A tune-up for a legend who desperately needs to break his two-fighting losing streak, that's all it will be – nothing more, nothing less.
All of that is etched in stone. Based on various comments made by Top Rank representatives and members of Pacquiao’s camp, we now have a general outline for what the upcoming year will look like. What we don’t know, however, is precisely who he will be facing in that April bout.
Robert Guerrero was suggested by Freddie Roach, but that appears unlikely. Brandon Rios was at one point an early favorite, but he seems to be more interested in a rematch with Mike Alvarado. Timothy Bradley supposedly already has a fight and opponent lined up for March.
Who does that leave?
Well, according to the Manila Bulletin, that leaves Vyacheslav Senchenko and Jessie Vargas. One would serve as a good tune-up for the Filipino star; the other would not.
Senchenko would come into the bout fresh off his ninth round KO over Ricky Hatton, a match he was on his way to losing before landing a well-timed body shot to send his foe straight into retirement. If what Paul Malignaggi did to him was any indication, Pacquiao definitely won't have too much trouble against the 35-year-old.
Vargas is a different story. He would come into this thing riding a 21-fight undefeated streak and with a whole lot to prove. At 23 he would view this as a career-making fight, and bring the sort of savvy and intensity to it that a.) allowed him to sneak out a decision over Vito Gasparyan and b.) might catch Pacquiao off guard.
It goes without saying that Vargas has no knockout power to speak of and may get dropped with relative ease by the Pacquiao folks saw in rounds one through five of the Marquez fight; however, he is still too risky to be a tune-up. And since this April match-up is supposed to be a tune-up (which is also probably why Rios isn’t getting more serious consideration), Senchenko is clearly the way to go.