It is amazing what one win can do for a fighter already as established in the boxing world as Juan Manuel Marquez. Following his decisive, spectacular knockout of long-time rival Manny Pacquiao, there would seem to be no fight off limits for Marquez.
Of course, after such an emotional win for Marquez, no one would blame him if he wanted to take a long time off before stepping back into the ring. The good news is that he will fight at some point in the future.
As the smoke clears for Marquez after defeating Pacquiao, here are the fights that we would like to see him take next.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
The first time these two met in 2009 was a one-sided slaughter for Mayweather, who actually came into the fight with a nearly two-year layoff. It is hard to say whether a second fight would go any different—given that Mayweather is so fast and has such great defense, it's not likely—but as far as being a money fight, there are very few contests that would draw more buzz.
While there is still a huge market for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, the second-biggest fight boxing could get right now would be Mayweather vs. Marquez 2.
Mayweather is still the biggest star in boxing. He can sell a fight like no one else in the sport, and fans will always gravitate towards him because he is such an incredible talker and makes people love or hate him at the drop of a hat.
Marquez's star has never been higher than it is right now. He has lost three fights in the last six years, two against Pacquiao and one against Mayweather. After finally conquering Pacquiao, Marquez should try to take down the mountain that is Floyd Mayweather.
For the record, let me say that I hate the idea of Marquez going back to the Pacquiao well after exerting so much energy to defeat him over the last eight years. He has the most definitive victory over Pacquiao that he can possibly get, why risk negating that win for another fight?
The simple answer is money. There is always going to be a huge market for Pacquiao vs. Marquez because they put on such great, entertaining fights.
From just a pure spectacle standpoint, it is hard for boxing to do much better than putting Pacquiao and Marquez in the same ring. Even though we have already seen it four times, never have they failed to provide anything less than greatness.
There is something to be said for having chemistry in the ring with an opponent. In a lot of ways, Pacquiao and Marquez have a rivalry built straight out of pro wrestling. Obviously these fights aren't predetermined, but the way that each fight tells a great, compelling story to captivate the audience and draw big money, it would be naive to think Marquez wouldn't at least consider it.
Pacquiao, when asked after he was knocked out, said "why not" when the subject of a fifth fight was brought up. Marquez shouldn't feel the same way, but it would be foolish to think he would blow it off.
Plus, if Marquez can score another knockout against Pacquiao, imagine how different we will think of those two throughout their careers and this series as a whole.
At some point Bradley has to step back in the ring to defend the title he won, albeit controversially, from Manny Pacquiao. There was some thought that he would take on Lamont Peterson, but it fell apart.
So Bradley could be staring at nearly a year off following the Pacquiao fight before he steps back in the ring. If Bradley thinks that he belongs in the big time spotlight on pay-per-view, Marquez could provide the outlet he needs.
Bradley is still not a household name. Everyone who knows him will immediately talk about how the judges gave him a victory that he didn't deserve. Fair or unfair, that is the cross Bradley has to bear right now.
Marquez would be taking a significant step down in opponent, at least as far as drawing power is concerned, but there are so few true superstars in boxing that you have to take a chance on someone.
Plus, Marquez could defeat Bradley and carry around the WBO welterweight belt that Pacquiao used to wear. Ego is an important character trait for any athlete, and Marquez would be able to rub his in Pacquiao's face if this particular scenario came to pass.