When RingTV.Com reported early last week that Bob Arum intended to meet with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines this month to discuss a quartet of potential opponents, the reaction from boxing fans and writers was less than enthusiastic. None of the four names mentioned—Timothy Bradley, Lamont Peterson, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto—would seem to offer much to Pacquiao's legacy at this point.
It's true the hardcore observers would be impressed if he and trainer Freddy Roach could make some adjustments and beat Juan Manuel Marquez in a convincing fashion, especially those of us who don't think Pac deserved the win in at least one of their past two fights.
But ultimately a fourth Marquez fight is far more potentially dangerous for Pacquiao's legacy than it is potentially beneficial. I believe Marquez would be more likely to get unbiased judging in a fourth fight, and if he could emerge victorious, it will end up shading the entire classic series between these two.
Of the four, it's the fight I want. But I learned as a young boy better than to expect what I want.
A return fight with Miguel Cotto would be another case where Pacquiao would have little to gain (aside from a hefty paycheck). His November of 2009 destruction of Cotto was decisive. I love writing about both these guys, but I have no interest in writing about them fighting each other again.
Timothy Bradly could potentially give Pacquiao an ugly, tough-to-win fight. In my opinion, Pacquiao wins that fight but he doesn't dazzle in it and it could be less than healthy for his overall career luster.
I like Lamont Peterson a lot, even if I don't think he deserved to win against Amir Khan. I don't believe he is close to ready for Manny Pacquiao, and both he and the sport would be best served by a quick re-match with Amir Khan. A victory over Peterson, even a dramatic one, would do little to enhance Pacquiao's resume.
Of course, now Floyd Mayweather Jr. won't be going to jail until at least June, maybe a spring-time engagement between these two will be in the cards after all. I'm not holding my breath, but who knows?
One thing I do know is that only a victory over Mayweather would be sure to improve Pacquiao's boxing legacy at this point.
For the following list I have selected and ranked based on importance for establishing Manny Pacquiao's status as a boxing superstar and No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter. If it were a list based simply on his 10 most impressive performances, there would possibly be some differences, though still a lot of overlap.