After Manny Pacquiao's unanimous decision victory over Brandon Rios Sunday morning local time in Macao, questions now quickly turn to the Pac-Man's next move.
Having come back from his two straight defeats at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, the Filipino superstar is back on the trail for both pride and titles. What is his best path?
Some potential bouts appear obvious, while others would be less expected. At this point, however, any opponent appears possible.
A loser to Bradley in March of this year, Ruslan Provodnikov shares a trainer with Pacquiao, making him somewhat of a wild-card choice for Pac-Man's next fixture.
If the Russian was not also trained by Freddie Roach, he would appear to be a logical choice as the Filipino continues his comeback.
The spanner in the works is that Roach not too long ago commented that he doesn't want the pair to fight, per Ryan Songalia of Ring Magazine:
"I hope that fight doesn't happen because I don't want to lose either one of them because they're both good friends and hard workers in my stable. Sometimes these things happen, it's part of sports.”
Provodnikov is coming off the back of a win over Mike Alvarado and would be a test of Pacquiao's ability, but Roach's input could make this one unlikely.
Pacquiao could also seek some closure with a Timothy Bradley rematch.
Bradley remains the WBO welterweight title holder and is still unbeaten at 31-0, but Pacquiao has never been the type to shy away from a daunting fight due to records, and at almost 35 years of age, it's unlikely he'll start now.
There's plenty of background story and drama to sell this fight.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The fight everyone's thinking about is of course the superfight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, the big-money event that's been touted, taken away, repackaged and touted more times than one cares to imagine.
Now that he's back in the winning column, Pacquiao's chance of convincing Floyd Mayweather may have improved, but contracts are still far from signed.
In truth, "Money" may require seeing more of his opponent before giving the fans what they want. There's likely to be at least one more bout on either fighter's side before this matchup is sealed.
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