Manny Pacquiao's Next Fight: Breaking Down 5 Potential Opponents for the Pac-Man

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

Manny Pacquiao's Next Fight: Breaking Down 5 Potential Opponents for the Pac-Man

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    Manny Pacquiao will face his long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time this Saturday night in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. 

    Their three previous meetings have been razor close, with Pacquiao holding a 2-0-1 record, and you could easily argue for either man winning all or none of the fights.

    Regardless of the outcome Saturday night, fans will certainly be clamoring for the Pac-Man to seek out new challenges in the coming year. 

    And lucky for us there are plenty of them out there. Even a few that don't include a certain fighter whom we have been hoping to see Pacquiao face for seemingly forever now.

    It's worth noting that the continuing feud between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, which promotes Pacquiao, is likely to continue to prevent big fights.

    Several of these include Pacquiao.

    Join us as we breakdown everything from the likely to the pipe dreams, five potential future opponents for the Pac-Man.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Let's get this one out of the way right off the bat. 

    There is simply no bigger fight in boxing than Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

    Even three years after it's best by date, and having lost some luster, boxing fans would still rejoice if this fight was signed. 

    Though you might need to sign it in blood and hold up each man's firstborn as collateral for many of us to believe it.

    Enough has been said about this fight over the years, much of which needs no rehashing here. But to put it simply, these are the best two fighters of this era.

    Both have a share of the blame for the fight having not happened yet, and both men will have an asterisk next to their records if the fight doesn't happen.

    Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has recently been quoted as saying the fight must happen in 2013 or it'll never happen.

    At this point, that seems the most likely outcome.

Brandon Rios

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    Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios redeemed himself in a big way when he came from behind to stop Mike Alvarado in the seventh round of a Fight of the Year candidate on Oct. 13. 

    Rios had seen his star fade a bit after getting a gift decision against Richard Abril this past April in a fight most felt he lost.

    In defeating Alvarado, in an absolute war, Rios made a name for himself as an all-action, come forward fighter who is ready to challenge the sport's top fighters.

    He is far and away the most likely next challenge for the Pac-Man, with promoter Bob Arum already publicly discussing the possibility of the fight.

    Rios is the type of fighter who could potentially help bring back the "old" Manny Pacquiao. 

    The Pac-Man's recent string of opponents has been reluctant to engage which has contributed to some less than exciting fights.

    That's something that would definitely not be a problem with Brandon Rios. He only knows one way to fight and that would make for some serious excitement. 

Timothy Bradley

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    When the scorecards were read on June 9 announcing Timothy Bradley the victor and new WBO welterweight champion over Manny Pacquiao, the reactions were swift and incredulous.

    It was a stunning result and was near universally condemned by everyone from fellow fighters, to sports media and athletes from other sports.

    It was stunningly, shockingly bad. And worse, it made boxing a, forgive the pun, punching bag for the rest of the sports media. 

    Despite a rematch clause, Pacquiao, correctly, decided that there was little market—or money—in a rematch with a guy who most of the world believed he had beat decisively. 

    But one has to wonder what goes through Pacquiao's head when he thinks back on that fight. He's always handled himself with class and dignity both in and out of the ring, but it has to irk him.

    Barring any other bigger fights coming his way, a rematch with Bradley, if nothing more than to set the record straight, could become an option towards the end of next year.

Adrien Broner

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    Many people are calling Adrien "The Problem" Broner the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. as he is brash, bold and a rising star with limitless potential.

    Broner answered a lot of questions in November when he systematically broke down and punished former lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco in Atlantic City. 

    There are two potential problems with a fight between Broner and Pacquiao.

    The two men compete at different weights with Pacquiao at 147 and Broner at 135, and "The Problem" is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.

    Of the two, the second is likely the larger stumbling block. Broner has expressed a willingness to move up in weight in order to secure big fights and make a name for himself. 

    He's young, and as his body continues to fill out, it's not crazy to assume he could eventually be competitive at welterweight.

    But even if the weight issues could be worked out, the ongoing Cold War between Top Rank and Golden Boy will likely confine this fight to the "what if" bin of boxing history.

Danny Garcia

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    It wasn't that long ago that Danny Garcia was listed as just an "opponent" for rising star Amir Khan. 

    What a difference a few rounds make.

    Garcia knocked out Khan in spectacular fashion and then followed that up by nearly decapitating Mexican legend and future Hall of Famer Erik Morales in October.

    Few have seen their year start and end in such a drastically different place as the WBA/WBC/Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion.

    He will face former multiple time world champion, and Brooklyn native, Zab Judah at the Barclays Center in February. A win there would likely place him in line for a more lucrative fight to close out 2013.

    Pacquiao is a fight that could make some sense for Garcia, and it would be an interesting fight, pitting a young champion against an established champion. 

    But like so many others, this fight will likely get derailed due to promoters who just can't get along. 

    Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.