Manny Pacquiao: 5 Fights That Could Return Him to the Top

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2012

Manny Pacquiao: 5 Fights That Could Return Him to the Top

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    Manny Pacquiao entered 2012 as no worse than the second-best fighter pound-for-pound in the world. He will enter 2013 in a very different position.

    After suffering two losses, one widely discredited, and one clear and decisive, Manny Pacquiao will be looking to pick up the pieces and reestablish himself as a top fighter in the sport. 

    Luckily for him there are plenty of good fights out there that can help him do just that. 

    It's far too early to signal the death-knell of the Pac-Man's career and with a big 2013, he can easily get back to the top of the sport.

Juan Manuel Marquez

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    Many people were openly complaining, in the media and on the web, about the signing of a fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

    Those same people are completely silent today. Not only was the fourth bout a tremendous event for boxing, and possibly the fight of the year, but it has paved the way for a fifth.

    And nobody will be grumbling if that fight is made.

    Losing to Juan Manuel Marquez itself was not shocking. "Dinamita" is a top-five fighter in the sport, and a future Hall of Famer.

    It was how Pacquiao lost that caused all the buzz. The ending was spectacular, brutal, scary and almost incomprehensible given the pattern established in the previous fights. 

    Before it happened it seemed that the Pac-Man was on the verge of dominating and possibly even stopping his foe. 

    That's what made the fourth fight so dramatic and makes a fifth one necessary.

Timothy Bradley

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    When is a loss not really a loss? 

    When you're talking about Manny Pacquiao's loss to Timothy Bradley this past June.

    It was clear to everyone but two of the only three who mattered that Pacquiao dominated the fight and should have won an easy decision. 

    But it wasn't meant to be as judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross gave Bradley an inexplicably bad decision win.

    Pacquiao turned down a chance to avenge the result, instead seeking out the fourth Marquez bout, but coming off that loss a rematch here might make sense.

    It would give Pacquiao a relatively light-hitting opponent, to check out how his chin will hold up, and a chance at revenge.

Brandon Rios

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    The biggest loser to come out of Marquez's knockout victory over Manny Pacquiao might be Brandon Rios.

    Rios, who is promoted by Top Rank like Pacquaio, was mentioned as the next opponent for the Filipino star should he win.

    But he didn't and now Rios' future is much cloudier. He could face Marquez, though his style is built to be taken apart by the Mexican, or he could still face Pacquiao.

    Rios is the type of fighter who is tailor-made for a war with the Pac-Man and that's the type of fight that could raise both fighters' profiles.

Robert Guerrero

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    Robert Guerrero established himself as a legitimate welterweight with his dominating win over Andre Berto in November.

    He appears likely to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May, but if that fight falls through a matchup with Pacquiao could be intriguing.

    "The Ghost" is rough, tough and mentally sharp enough to give almost any fighter a tough night, and he's capable of hanging a loss on a good many of them.

    If he were to lose out of the Mayweather fight, or gasp, even beat him then he could find himself on Pacquiao's radar.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    One of the great ironies of Manny Pacquiao's loss to Juan Manuel Marquez is that it might have brought us closer to a superfight with Floyd Mayweather.

    There is little doubt that the fight has lost a good deal of its luster but with his two defeats in 2012, Manny Pacquiao also has a reduced negotiating position. 

    Financial terms have become the issue in the forefront of why this fight hasn't happened recently, with Mayweather offering what many felt was an unfair package to his foe.

    Is it possible now with the two losses, and time rapidly running out, that Bob Arum and company would be willing to accept this fight and cash out in a big way?

    Here's hoping. And for Pacquiao a win here would erase all of his 2012 and then some.