For the 33-year-old Pacquiao, retirement considerations have sprang up over the course of the past 12 months. Twice, he's been rumored to have been engaging in his final fight as a professional boxer.
After being knocked out cold and embarrassed in a fight every boxing fan, and even many casual observers were watching, one has to wonder if Pacquiao gained a new motivation to continue on in the sport he's mostly dominated since turning to it as a 14-year old boy in the Manila.
Should he decide to continue, there's one fight, one opponent, everyone wants to see. But there are a few potentially entertaining and wise options to choose from as well.
The Fight of the Decade: Pacquiao vs. Mayweather
With news coming from Floyd Mayweather's camp, re: his agent Leonard Ellerbe, that Mayweather is prepared to resume his boxing career, a current of talk resided around the Pacquiao-Marquez fight that we could all be on the cusp of getting the one fight we all want to see, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.
In the wake of the abuse Pacquiao received Saturday night in getting knocked out, some have speculated that a Pacquiao-Mayweather tilt is now dead, rendering any talk of such a bout useless. Still, others have neglected that notion and determined that in light of the knockout, a historical battle is more imminent than ever.
To back up that thought, Mayweather showed some support for Pacquiao, though it seemed back-handed at best. "I feel bad for him, honestly. I really feel bad for him." Mayweather went on to say that he felt a few fights against lesser opponents may be needed before Pacquiao is ready to give Mayweather a fair and competitive fight.
Thus, it seems highly unlikely we'll get this fight in 2013. Perhaps a 35-year-old Pacquiao can square off against Mayweather in 2014, though?
The 26-year-old Brandon Rios is in many ways the perfect opponent for Manny Pacquiao. Rios has never lost in his professional career and has one draw to his credit. He has won 23 fights by TKO.
The Lubbock, Texas native has been dominant early in his career and is likely the next big thing in the lightweight division of boxing. With his youth and already-gained experience, Rios would figure to give Pacquiao more than a competitive fight.
Rematch with Timothy Bradley
In the initial match between these two, Pacquiao won on the unofficial scorecard 119-109. As was the case in Pacquiao's preceding three fights with Marquez, the decision was not without controversy or questioning of how the judges came to such a conclusion.
Bradley still believes he won the fight, while Pacquiao is certain he was the true winner.
It was that kind of bad blood that led to a second, third and fourth version of Pacquiao-Marquez. Who is to say we cannot at least get a second of Pacquiao-Bradley?
Though there are probably other realistic candidates to pose as Pacquiao's next whipping boy (and thanks to Timothy Rapp for putting this list together in October), none would pose the the threat or create the stir that any of these three matchups would undoubtedly produce should they happen.
Of course with Pacquiao, there's the very real possibility that he could retire given his responsibilities as a congressman in his native land, and the handful of other interests and responsibilities he has outside of boxing.
As for Juan Manuel Marquez, who attained some level of revenge and gained back some respect by knocking cold his feigned rival, picking out potential opponents for him is not any easier.
In the primary undercard, Yuriorkis Gamboa came away with a unanimous decision victory over Michael Farenas. Spectators and analysts alike agreed that Gamboa was dominant and showed he is prepared to head to the big-time.
Perhaps a prize fight is now in his sight. At 22-0 it would appear he is ready and deserving.
Some have hinted that a fifth match between Pacquiao and Marquez could go down, but another high-profile rematch seems more imminent and interesting.
Marquez vs. Floyd Mayweather
Using similar reasoning as above, a Marquez-Mayweather match (in this case rematch) would seem to be an oversight if it did not happen. Marquez just knocked out one of the best fighters in recent memory, Manny Pacquiao.
His confidence and allure as a big-name fighter has never been greater. And Mayweather is ready to fight. Why would Mayweather waste his time with non-competitive opponents when Marquez can give him a real fight?
Marquez might not be as motivated to immediately take up a fight with the world's best current fighter, but there is little doubt the 39-year-old still has the skills needed to make hay at the highest levels of the sport. Why not try his hand against the big bad Mayweather once more?
As with Pacquiao, there are numerous options beyond these. In my mind, though, these are the two which make the most sense. They are the two which would likely cause the best fights.
And that's why they should happen. Boxing needs good fights. These promise to produce just that.
Follow @BRwillosgood for Saints, Hornets (soon Pelicans), NFL draft and other sports-related information, news, commentary and ramblings.