Manny Pacquiao may have been knocked out in his most recent showdown with arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez, but he will have no choice but to bounce back and triumph in their prospective fifth encounter.
The main reason for that is due to the lack of alternatives that exist for Pacman at this juncture. If he wants to continue his career and put on another entertaining spectacle, this is the only option.
Despite the problems that Marquez has given Pacquiao in the past, there is no fighter with whom Pacquiao is more familiar. That gives him an edge that he can't replicate against other, younger opponents who may capitalize on Pacquiao's less dominant form.
Pacquiao has been entangled in his commitment to being a congressman in the Philippines, but his trainer Freddie Roach indicated he has been running and working out.
Unfortunately, Roach also stated to Boxing Channel's Marcos Villegas that the end of Pacman's career may be near.
Roach had to deny Pacquiao the opportunity to fight in April, as he is clearly bent on avenging the knockout at the hands of Marquez. But it was too soon, and Roach wouldn't allow it.
The return for Pacquiao is slated to be in September, according to Roach. That should provide an adequate window to train hard and gear up for what may be the last time he enters the ring professionally, should he fall again.
Mayweather would need more time to recuperate from that ahead of a bout with Pacquiao, especially since it will be his first fight since being released from prison.
There wasn't much Roach did to extinguish the possibility of a Mayweather bout down the road, as reported by B/R's own Kevin McRae.
We can set some traps for Mayweather that'll give him a lot of difficulty and I think he knows that. I welcome that fight and would love the challenge and I'm sure Manny would also.
Before that can happen, Pacquiao must get past this first fight, and ensure that it will set the stage for what should be the finale of his career. Whether he wins or loses against Marquez, a setup for Mayweather will be fitting regardless.
Roach left open the possibility of fighting someone other than Marquez, but any other counterpart wouldn't generate the hype or net Pacquiao a good enough win to justify Mayweather as a next step.
Again, though, Roach hints that Pacquiao may not even take on Marquez at all. It could all be over now.
I will really really watch [Pacquiao] closely in the ring, in the gym and make sure that everything is in place. If something is not in place I will cancel that [a fifth Marquez] fight and he will retire.
It's a bit of a daring proposition to take on such a familiar foe, especially since Marquez seems to improve each time out against Pacquiao. In order to advance his career at this twilight stage, though, it's up to Pacquiao to reverse that trend and tackle the challenge.