Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao has verbally issued a date for his next fight this year—Oct. 17—and Bob Arum is already busying himself with studying the feasibility of holding the fight in MGM Grand, Madison Square Garden, or the Alamo Dome.
But against whom?
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., apparently in a failed attempt to steal the spotlight from the Pacquiao-Hatton fight last May 2, announced his return, but opted to fight the smaller Juan Manuel Marquez instead. According to Freddie Roach, he only had to wait a day and the much-awaited "Fight of the Decade" could be due for negotiations already.
Marquez on the other hand, obviously in an attempt to get under Pacquiao's skin for not granting him his much awaited third fight, chose to fight the unretired Mayweather, whom he regarded as the best, and not Pacquiao. After Juan Ma dismantled the baby bull Juan Diaz in a lightweight fight last February, he called on the former P4P No. 1 to end his vacation, since accordingly, the current No. 1 is afraid of him.
Shane Mosley had just turned down the Pacquiao challenge with the weight as the primary issue. Sugar Shane fights at 147 pounds, and he's got remarkable speed and power, having bruised and KO-ed the unloaded Margarito at that weight level. Having to go down at 140, or 142 at the most, will have a notable toll to both his speed and power. Sugar Shane is a dangerous Pacquiao opponent, and Roach is very well aware of it and will not advise the fight to be beyond 142.
Miguel Cotto is booked until Jun. 13 against Clottey. Of all the next possible Pacquiao opponent, Cotto is most likely to be the next one. However, Joshua Clottey is Miguel Cotto's force to reckon with, and a Clottey upset threatens the Boricua bomber's chance to slug it out with the Pacman.
The King has set the date, and re-scheduling doesn't seem to be an option. Personally, I think Pacquiao is set on having a tune-up fight strictly between 140 to 142 pounds in anticipation of any of the outcome between the Mayweather-Marquez and Cotto-Clottey fights.
Pacquiao fought Diaz at 135, then fought the Golden boy at 147, and very recently demolished Hatton at 140 in a spectacularly brutal fashion. Apparently, he had found his most suitable weight level where both his speed and power are at their maximum. The next fight is of a little less risk with the intention of just to settle the king firmly and comfortably on his new throne.
I can only think of three fighters who're best-suited for the job.
A fighter who reminds us of the old Pacquiao's "best defense is offense" days, but never similar to Hatton's "walk in a straight line-all offense-no defense" strategy. With no intention of downplaying Soto, he is expected to give fight fans an exciting fight, good for about six to eight rounds only, until finally crumbling down. Soto knocked out Pacquiao's brother, Bobby, in the past, and revenge is definitely a selling factor.
At 24 wins, 11 by way of knockout with no loss, Bradley can be expected to perform, again, for about six to eight rounds or more. Bradley is one of the rare fighters who can not be counted out on a single punch-Juan Marquez style.
Last April, Bradley fought Kendall Holt and got tagged with a huge left hook in the very first round. He got back up, regained composure and gained upper hand by outboxing Holt until the 12th round. Despite being downed again on the last round, Bradley got back on his feet to conclude the fight and won by Unanimous Decision.
Valero is boxing's urban legend. And all urban legends have no factual basis. At 24 wins, 24 KOs, he is very dangerous, but nothing Pacquiao can't handle. Valero fights at lightweight, and with his unblemished record, he is still out to prove himself before the world.
The issue on the quality of boxers he fought darkly shadows his accomplishment. By comparison through past opponents, Valero will not be in the same class as Pacquiao. If Roach entertained the idea of having Pacquiao exchanging blows with Cotto, he must definitely consider having this one.
Personally, I'm salivating for a Pacquiao-Valero showdown. I'm a boxing fan, and I'm definitely looking forward to round after round of exchanging blows. If the rest of the world wants to see this kind of a fight for a tune-up, then this fight is a medium risk/high reward fight that can rake in money.
After all, who never wants to see another Pacquiao fight?