If you've been living under a rock for the last couple of days, you may have missed the news that shook the sports world.
Manny Pacquiao, the top pound-for-pound boxer on the planet in the minds of many observers, was upset by the unheralded Timothy Bradley.
That should be huge news—after all, Pacquiao hasn't lost a bout in seven years. But an upset loss alone is not enough to put a fading but lively sport on life support. It's just a garden variety sports report.
What takes it to the next level, from a sports story to an international scandal? Only two people watching that fight though Bradley deserved to win. Unfortunately for Manny, they were Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, two of the three judges the Nevada Athletic Commission assigned to pick a winner in case the fight went the distance.
Even Bradley himself, when asked about the bout afterwards, had the good grace not to make the absurd claim he had won the fight. He meekly announced his intention to re-watch the fight and offered Pacquiao a rematch.
Of course he did. Despite weighting in at just 147 pounds, Manny is one of the biggest cash cows in this or any sport. But will Pacquiao take the bait? Will he give Bradley and promoter Bob Arum, who, despite recent public protests, is no doubt secretly thrilled with Bradley's controversial win, a lucrative rematch?
Pacquiao, who was gracious in defeat, hasn't officially announced what he intends to do next. I see four possibilities—some more probable than others.
A Rematch With Timothy Bradley
This is the obvious move—so obvious, in fact, that a November 10, 2012 date has already been tentatively set. Yes, most everyone with a functioning cortex saw the first fight for Manny. Unfortunately, our scorecards, most of them unofficially aided by varying quantities of alcohol, don't count.
Bradley is the winner and a rematch just makes sense. Pacquiao can close the door on this nonsense with another 12-round beating; hopefully this time with competent officials in charge of deciding the outcome.
Chances of Happening: 65 percent
Retirement and a Run for President
Pacquiao is a member of the House of Representatives in his native Philippines. Unfortunately, his busy schedule allowed him to attend less than half of the House's 59 sessions in 2011.
Politics is something Pacquiao is serious about. And although he can't run for President until he is at least 40, it certainly wouldn't hurt him to start padding his resume as a serious statesman now.
Chances of Happening: 15 percent
A Fight with Floyd Mayweather
This is still the fight boxing fans crave. Although some have suggested that his loss to Bradley tarnishes this fight, I don't think it has lost any of its luster. It is still a fight to settle once and for all who the top fighter of a generation is. One bogus decision doesn't change that.
This is the obvious move in a sane world. Unfortunately, the world is a wicked, wanton and wildly unpredictable place. This won't happen until Manny beats Bradley in a rematch and then Mayweather challenges Bradley to see if he can do so in even more impressive fashion.
They will fight one day—but it may not be until both are well past their primes.
Chances of Happening: 15 percent
A Fight with Someone Else
I don't see any way this happens. If Manny decides to fight again, the two money bouts are Floyd and Bradley. Anyone else, from Amir Khan to Saul Alvarez, is a distance third.
The public will, in lieu of a Floyd fight, demand a rematch. And while we don't always get what we want in boxing, this time, we will.
Chances of Happening: Five percent
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