He came. He saw. He conquered.
And now that Manny Pacquiao’s comeback fight with Brandon Rios—which he won by a near scorecard shutout early Sunday morning in China—is in the rearview mirror, the boxing world can go back to one of its favorite distractions from before the eight-division champ’s impromptu two-fight skid:
Forecasting whom Bob Arum will pull from his sleeve as the Filipino’s next foil.
The options—just as they’d been before Pacquiao lost debatably to Timothy Bradley and convincingly to Juan Manuel Marquez—are plentiful. And there’s sure to be no shortage of wannabes from 135 to 154 pounds who’ll stake a claim as the most logical next in line for the refurbished 34-year-old.
Arum said in the run-up to the Rios event that a victorious Pacquiao would fight twice in 2014, perhaps back in China or at a number of other possible locations—including AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Texas or sites in Mexico or Canada.
He defeated Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito by lopsided decisions at the Cowboys’ facility in 2010 and has also fought in San Antonio twice, as well as other American venues in Nevada (15 times), California (three times) and Tennessee (one time). Outside the U.S., he’s fought in his native Philippines 35 times, in Japan once and in Thailand twice.
Here are a handful that we selected as possible foes—some more plausible so than others, given the reality of network rivalries, promotional conflicts and other signature boxing wranglings.
Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments.