One thunderous right hand later and Juan Manuel Marquez is officially the hottest name in boxing. Marquez's sixth-round knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 8 was not only proof positive that the fourth fight was a worthwhile venture, but also that Dinamita can still hang with the world's best at 39 years old.
The only question remaining after the fight is whether Marquez and Pacquiao will meet for a fifth time. It seems like a logical option for both fighters, but Dinamita now holds all of the power.
That sound you heard on Saturday wasn't Pacquiao hitting the mat—it was the cash register ringing off the hook for Marquez.
As quite possibly the hottest challenger in boxing, Marquez should have his pick of the litter when it comes to his next bout. Who are his best possible opponents? Here is a breakdown of a few that stand out more than most.
Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO)
Well...duh. A fifth fight against Pac-Man is the best option and most likely at this juncture. Following a bout where the two men looked like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots in the ring, both hardcore boxing fans and casual observers will be clamoring for a rematch.
In other words, it will be the exact opposite of the lead-up to Saturday's fight. Though the result wound up being the best fight of their series, there were very few satisfied when Pacquiao chose to fight Marquez for a fourth time.
That won't be the case this time around. By knocking out the man who many think is the best fighter in the world, Marquez put himself in the Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather stratosphere with the mainstream.
In other words, Pacquiao-Marquez V would be the "superfight" that many boxing fans have clamored for. Again, cash registers ringing in Marquez's ears. And considering their previous fight was the 13th-highest gate in Las Vegas history, according to ESPN's Dan Rafael, a fifth installment could break the Top 10:
#PacMarquez gate of $10,888,890 makes it 13th biggest gate in Nevada history, in front of Tyson-Bruno 2 and just behind Mayweather-Mosley.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) December 11, 2012
It's what the fans and both fighters seemed to want. With Top Rank promoting both fighters, there's absolutely no reason to avoid a fifth match.
Floyd Mayweather (43-0-0, 26 KO)
If negotiations with Pacquiao fizzle, it's not bad to have the most famous fighter in the world waiting as a backup plan. Fighting Mayweather for a second time would almost be Marquez giving the ultimate thumbing of the nose at Pacquiao.
"You won't get back in the ring with me and you're afraid to fight this guy? I've done it twice!"
Marquez fighting Mayweather also makes logistical sense. Adviser Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN's Dan Rafael recently that Mayweather plans on fighting twice in 2013, with the first coming on May 4—right around when Marquez could theoretically return to the ring.
"Floyd has told us that he is fighting twice in 2013 with the first date being May 4 -- Cinco De Mayweather -- and the second date being Sept. 14," Ellerbe said.
Still, there has to be some hesitation about a second bout against Mayweather with Pacquiao hanging in the balance. Mayweather essentially picked Marquez apart in their first fight, peppering him in classic Money May style to win a unanimous decision.
If Mayweather repeats the performance, would there be any intrigue left for a fifth Pacquiao fight? Maybe, but not as much.
On the other hand, a shocking win against Mayweather would shock the world again and could give Dinamita the top spot on pound-for-pound lists.
Timothy Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KO)
Bummer. That would be the only word that comes to mind for most fight fans if Marquez had to settle for a bout against Bradley. Though his controversial split-decision victory over Pacquiao put Bradley into the upper crust of boxers, he's still seen as a second-tier fighter and possible cop-out opponent for Marquez.
In an interview with Leighton Ginn of USA Today, Bradley called Marquez a "bad dude" while giving him credit for knocking out Pacquiao.
A bout between the two men would pit Pacquiao's last two opponents against one another—one who shocked the world and drew anger (Bradley) and one who did the same and drew respect (Marquez).
Fighting Bradley would obviously be a second-tier option at this point. However, if the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps panic and schedule a fight, Bradley could be the only viable option left on the table.