Boxing

Manny Pacquiao Next Fight: Top Contenders to Challenge for Pac-Man's Title

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 12:  Timothy Bradley (L) and Manny Pacquiao battle it out during their WBO world welterweight championship boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 12, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao won by unanimous decision.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
David Becker/Getty Images
Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2014

Manny Pacquiao avenged his highly controversial 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley on Saturday night by downing the American in Las Vegas.

On June 9, 2012, Bradley won a split decision over the Filipino and subsequently took the WBO welterweight title.

However, for the vast majority of viewers, the decision was the wrong one, with many thinking that Pacquiao should have claimed a decisive victory.

And Pac-Man himself felt he won the fight, as reported on ESPN.com

In the first fight against Tim Bradley, I was over it before I returned to the dressing room. To Freddie Roach and me, and apparently everyone else who watched the fight -- except for two [judges] -- I won the fight.

The first thing I said to Freddie when we saw each other in the dressing after the fight was, ‘He [Bradley] ran just like we knew he would.’ We never discussed or debated the decision because it was so obvious that I had won the fight and nearly every round. 

He won by a unanimous decision on Saturday to inflict Bradley's first defeat and proved that he still has the quality to compete against the best.

And Sky Sports reported his belief that he has two years still remaining in his career:

With that in mind, let's take a look at the top contenders to challenge Pacquiao for his regained title.

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. watches the Los Angeles Clippers game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

This is the fight everybody wants to see, but the history between the two makes the generation-defining fight quite unlikely, as LaceupBoxing points out:

However, surely it must be the fight that Pac-Man pushes for. And according to sports columnist Mitch Kunzler, he is up for it:

Even former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is calling for it:

Undefeated Mayweather up against boxing's only world champion in history over eight weight divisions is a mouth-watering prospect.

And even if there is only a small likelihood of it happening, it must be on the agenda for boxing to get the fight that it deserves.

The American faces underdog Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas on May 3, after which something could potentially be negotiated.

 

Juan Manuel Marquez

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 12:  Juan Manuel Marquez (R) looks to strike WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. during their bout at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Timothy Bradley Jr. wins in a split-decision victory
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Juan Manuel Marquez beat Pacquiao in the Filipino's next fight following his defeat to Bradley.

The two have fought four times in the past. At four distinct contracted weights (126, 130, 144 and 147), Pacquiao has two wins, while their first fight ended in a draw back in 2008.

NBC's Chris Mannix sees this matchup as the most likely for the 35-year-old:

Surely it is a fight that Pacquiao would want. He has avenged the loss to Bradley already, and he would certainly jump at the opportunity to contest again against the Mexican who knocked him out in 2012.

There is an argument to suggest that a fifth fight between the two might be one too many, but with great quality on display, it would constitute a great challenge.

 

Mike Alvarado

BROOMFIELD, CO - OCTOBER 19:  Mike Alvarado defends himself as he is defeated by Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia with a TKO in the 10th round to claim the WBO Junior Welterweight Title at the 1stBank Center on October 19, 2013 in Broomfield, Colorado.  (Phot
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver fighter takes on Marquez in May, and if he were to come out as the winner, he would surely be lined up as a potential next opponent for Pacquiao.

And for many, a fresh matchup between the two would offer an exciting prospect rather than a repeat bout with Marquez.

The 33-year-old has two losses in his career to Brandon Rios, whom he then went on to beat in a rematch, and Ruslan Provodnikov in October of last year. 

A victory over Marquez would mark him out as a force to be reckoned with and would make him a genuine contender for Pacquiao.  

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