Manny Pacquiao made his triumphant return to the ring on Saturday, Nov. 23 in Macau, China. Pacman dominated throughout and earned a unanimous decision over Brandon Rios.
The question is, which fighter should Pacquiao face next?
This fight was a pure clinic for Pacquiao, who dominated with a blend of power and precision. It was a vintage performance that has many claiming that Pacman is back as one of boxing's elite.
Even the judges knew enough to recognize Pacquiao's dominance.
There was no question about this decision.
Rios kept on charging and fighting through punches, but his efforts weren't rewarded with a victory. Instead, Rios was pummeled for 12 rounds and showed minimal signs of fighting back or putting up any form of resistance.
In turn, Pacquiao secured the victory and has set himself up for high-profile victories.
Timothy Bradley Jr.
For all that's been made about Pacquiao's potential bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing fans seem to forget about his most controversial loss. That would be his stunning split-decision defeat against Timothy Bradley Jr. during June of 2012.
Why not give Pacquiao a shot at revenge?
This isn't an example of Pacquiao pursuing revenge against a fighter who isn't in his class. Instead, Bradley Jr. is widely regarded as the top welterweight boxer in the world, and that makes him the perfect candidate to face Pacman.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Bradley Jr. is 31-0 and currently owns the WBO welterweight title.
For those unfamiliar, Bradley Jr. infamously earned a split-decision victory over Pacquiao in Las Vegas that had some crying foul. Since then, Pacquiao has been knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez, while Bradley has defeated Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov.
People may want to see Pacquiao face Mayweather Jr., but there isn't a better opponent for Pacman to face than Bradley Jr.
Adrien Broner has become one of the most versatile fighters in the recent history of the decorated art form. He's now won titles at 130, 135 and 147 pounds, which is an obscene range of weights for a fighter to conquer.
Broner is currently 27-0, and if Pacquiao wants to get back into the conversation of elite fighters, he'd be a perfect opponent to do so against.
Broner is set defend the WBA Welterweight Championship against Marcos Maidana on Dec. 14, 2013. Whether Broner wins or loses that fight, he's proved to be one of the better boxers in the world and is more than capable of performing at 147 pounds.
The ultimate goal for Pacquiao has to be a fight against Mayweather Jr., and defeating Broner would be an undeniable step toward achieving that dream bout.
Broner is working his way up the rankings, and Dan Rafael of ESPN currently has him as the No. 4 welterweight behind Bradley Jr., Marquez and Pacquiao. The fact that he owns the WBA welterweight title makes him an even more attractive option.
Broner isn't as high-profile as Bradley Jr. or Mayweather Jr., but he's still a star-caliber fighter.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A very, very strong case could be made that Pacquiao needs to win at least one more fight before earning a bout against Mayweather Jr. Money is the unquestionable pound-for-pound king of boxing and has been so far ahead of the competition that finding an ideal opponent is already difficult.
Pacquiao and Mayweather are destined to fight at some point in time, but Pacquiao responding to two straight losses with a win over a borderline star doesn't guarantee that transpiring right now.
With all of this being established, there isn't a single match in all of combat sports that would generate as much hype and attention as Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. It's been built up for the better part of a half-decade, and it's still an attractive fight.
As for those who claim they don't want to see it anymore, that's generally code for, "Pacquiao is aging worse than Mayweather, and I'm afraid that the fight would end in lopsided fashion."
Regardless of how this potential fight ends up, it'd be a meeting between two of the biggest stars in professional boxing history. Both have held multiple championships, and both will go down in history as legends.
Too late or not, this is a fight that needs to be seen.
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