Such is the insatiable nature of the best fighters in the world, they’re always looking toward their next goal. As fans of the sport too, it’s in our makeup to immediately glance a little further down the line and see what potential ramifications one result can have for the boxing landscape.
One man that’s been part of the aforementioned landscape for the best part of 19 years is Manny Pacquiao, and he produced a fine performance in his most recent bout to regain the WBO welterweight title from Timothy Bradley via a unanimous decision Saturday night in Las Vegas.
For many, it was vindication for Pac-Man after he lost the title in controversial circumstances to Bradley back in June 2012. But two years on, that blemish has been eradicated and it’s time to look ahead.
Even at 35 years old, the man Bradley dubbed as the “best fighter in the world” post-fight, per Matt Christie in The Guardian, still looks to have a lot in the tank. But which route will he choose to go down? Will he tackle an old foe? Will he give a young upstart a chance? Or will he at last get the chance to go toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather?
Here, I'll investigate the paths that Pac-Man may look to explore and examine whom his most intriguing opponents would be for his next title fight.
Shall we just get this one out of the way?
For so long the boxing world has willed for these two to step into the ring, but for so long a plethora of obstacles has prevented the fight from happening.
Naturally, after a sparkling showing from Pacquiao, talk turns once again to a potential Manny vs. Floyd scrap. Pac-Man’s trainer, Freddie Roach, insisted that there are no qualms in the Pacquiao camp when it comes to setting up the bout, per Gareth A. Davies of The Telegraph. Roach insisted that “we'd love to fight Mayweather but there have been so many excuses.”
Roach went on to say, “He really doesn't seem to want to fight us, but we want that fight. I think my guy beats him.”
But there are others who are not quite as confident as Roach.
Mayweather has looked imperious since returning to the ring, and whilst Pacquiao was impressive in beating Bradley, he wasn’t quite at his very, very best. Sports Illustrated writer Chris Mannix just doesn’t think he has enough to trouble Mayweather:
Nice win for Pacquiao. But this version of him can't beat Floyd Mayweather. Just can't.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
The truth is, though, we’ll never know until they put these trivial differences aside and set the fight up. Come on, guys, this has gone on long enough now, hasn’t it?
Juan Manuel Marquez
Pacquiao vs. Marquez V? It certainly seems a possibility that these two could square off for the fifth time in the near future. And whilst it may seem like a case of overdoing things a little, the contests between the two have always been vibrant and thoroughly enjoyable.
Should Manny and Marquez fight for a fifth time?
You could also argue that after setting things straight with Bradley, Manny has a score to settle with Marquez too. The last time the duo met it was December 2012, and Marquez came out on top, knocking out the Filipino in the sixth round with a thunderous right hand.
Granted, it was the first time in their quartet of bouts that the Mexican had beaten Pacquiao, but at this juncture, a fifth fight between the two looks like the most logical next step for Pac-Man given the dearth of other options currently out there.
Marquez goes up against Mike Alvarado next month, and if he can overcome that challenge, expect discussions between the Pacquiao and Marquez camps to get underway sooner rather than that later.
The opponent that would probably make for the most entertaining matchup would be Ruslan Provodnikov.
The man dubbed the “Siberian Rocky” is an attacking, enterprising fighter who ran Bradley close in a classic contest not long after Bradley’s win over Pacquiao. Their scrap won Ring Magazine’s prestigious Fight of the Year accolade, per Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com.
Some fans are certainly more keen for somebody like Provodnikov to be given a chance instead of going over old ground with another fight against Marquez:
I'd rather see Pacquiao vs winner of Provodnikov/Algeiri than Pacquiao vs winner of Marquez/Alvarado.— The Boxing Expert (@TheBoxingExpert) April 13, 2014
The respective styles of Pacquiao and Provodnikov would complement each other superbly, but they both have Roach as their trainer, which could pose something of an issue. If there is a potential fight in the making, however, it’s definitely one we’d all love to see.