Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao is 35 years old, but it appears that he is going to avoid his final dance with retirement.
Although he is focused on the upcoming political elections in his home country, there's a good chance he's also already hearing whispers from Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and his loyal camp about who would make a good opponent this summer.
After his shocking knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December in the pairs' fourth bout, there's been a lot of speculation about Pacquiao's future—topics that have ranged from retirement, full-time politics and facing Marquez again sometime this year.
And, as always, the thought of facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr., still rings a resounding bell in boxing circles everywhere.
With a recent report by the Manila Bulletin (via World Boxing News) saying that Pacquiao is looking at just two or three more fights at the most before he takes the plunge into a life without boxing, news on potential opponents seems to be coming in faster and wider than ever since his December loss.
That being said, we've got you covered with all the latest news and notes from Pacquiao's current situation, complete with speculation on what it all might mean and the likelihood that any of these bouts actually happen.
Marco Antonio Barrera 3
A rematch with a Mexican champion is clearly what the people want, even when that champion is not named Juan Manuel Marquez.
That's the latest from Lee Cleveland of Fight Saga, who insinuates that the Baby-Faced Assassin is exactly the kind of opponent that both sides would need at this point in their careers.
On one hand, Barrera would not be returning for fights against up-and-comers. At age 39 with a 67-7 career record (44 KOs), he wants the chance to cement his legacy as one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all-time—not spank a kid with very little experience.
Pacquiao and Barrera also have unfinished business (at least on Barrera's side) after Pac-Man handed the former three division champ his only KO loss of his career in 2003, and then defeated him again soundly in their rematch in 2007.
Nothing is official, but as Cleveland notes in his piece, this is a fight that might qualify in warm-up territory for Pac-Man and might be the best fighter Barrera could face at this point in his career. Keep an eye on this name in the next couple of months.
Timothy Bradley 2/Brandon Rios
These are two very different fighters, but the upcoming bouts of both might determine the next opponent of Pacquiao in the very near future.
We all know about Bradley's controversial split-decision victory over Pac-Man last year, so he's an automatic candidate for a rematch. However, the number-crunchers haven't been keen on that fight because of Bradley's following, and it would take something major to turn that ship around.
Bradley is taking on Ruslan Provodinkov on March 16, while Rios and Mike Alvarado will square off on March 30. Rios has long been a potential candidate for Pacquiao, and he might get his chance in the near future—especially if this report from Miguel Rivera of Boxing Scene proves to be accurate.
Marquez's promoter—Fernando Beltran—thinks that both his client and Pacquiao might take on the winners of those two bouts. Bradley and Rios are the favorites, and each would make a good opponent as Pacquiao tries to prove that he is ready for a potential fifth bout with Marquez.
To me, it doesn't seem likely that Bradley would be the target. He stands to make more money with Marquez, and that leaves Rios as a more likely candidate. Either way, Pac-Man could end up facing both of those fighters before he even sniffs a bout with the next man on this list.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
We all know that Mayweather-Pacquiao has lost some of its luster after Pac-Man's latest two losses.
However, raise your hand if you wouldn't watch this fight. Hands down? Thought so.
Both fighters know this, and both will continue to tease us with this superfight until they can no longer raise their gloves to box. Both fighters have refused certain restrictions of the other over the years, and even rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) is weighing in on why it hasn't happened yet.
However, all hope is not lost yet.
Mayweather made the latest splash about a potential fight with the Filipino legend, talking with Boxing Scene (via ABS-CBNnews.com) about who his next opponents might be—a list that included Pacquiao. While he wants to face the man who has been the cause of many to question Money May's motives, he also claims that Pac-Man will have to beat both Bradley and Marquez again (his two most recent losses) before he can get a shot at the champ.
After many years of futility and unwillingness to just suck it up and fight, it doesn't look like either have decided to budge yet. Pray for a miracle, because that seems to be the only option for the fight of the century these days.
Juan Manuel Marquez 5
It might be a fifth bout between two men who looked drastically different on Dec. 8, but the world wants to see this pair square-off one more time.
Arum and the two fighters know this, and JMM knows that no matter what fighter he faces before a rematch with Pacquiao, the money offered won't be anywhere close to his take from Pacquiao-5. According to Rivera and Boxing Scene, Marquez knows that Pacquiao is the only fighter than can get him into the double-digit millions—one of the reasons he started to open up to yet another rematch.
Nothing is set in stone, however, especially since JMM really holds all the cards as to another bout against his Filipino rival.
ESPN's Dan Rafael reported earlier this week that Marquez is indeed weighing his options, looking at potential fights against Bradley, Rios and Pacquiao before making any decisions about his next fight. Rafael echoed the sentiments of previous reports that Marquez knows his biggest monetary option is against Pac-Man.
No matter who Pacquiao lines up for his next fight (warm-up or big-time brawl), you can bet it will be a thoughtful decision. Losses and age have crept up on one of the best boxers of our time, and he now knows picking fights is an intricate and delicate process—even if there are several guys that would be ideal opponents.
After all, Pacquiao can't afford to be nonchalant—his last two losses have shown us that.