Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao answered plenty of questions with his recent decisive victory over Timothy Bradley. While many questions remain, they largely relate to the Filipino star's next opponent.
After losses to Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, there was some concern that Pac-Man might be reaching the end of the line. However, now that he has beaten Brandon Rios and Bradley in consecutive fights, the 35-year-old boxer seems entrenched once again.
Aside from Floyd Mayweather, there is no bigger draw in the sport than Pacquiao. A fight between them is something that fans have been clamoring for, but nothing suggests that anything is on the horizon in that regard.
With that said, here is a closer look at three of Pacquiao's biggest potential challengers moving forward.
Juan Manuel Marquez
Having already faced him on four occasions, it would be easy to understand why Pacquiao may not be interested in fighting Marquez again. Pac-Man holds a 2-1-1 record against Dinamita, but Marquez knocked him out two years ago, and it can be argued that Marquez deserved a better fate in a couple of the previous fights as well.
Marquez's masterful ability to counter poses a huge problem for an aggressive fighter like Pacquiao, something that has been evident since their first meeting in 2004. Pacquiao has never been one to run away from a fight, though, and it looks like that remains true.
Marquez must first get past Mike Alvarado in May, but if he does, then Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated believes that another Pacquiao vs. Marquez clash is on the horizon:
Boxing fans generally like to see something new, but the history between Pacquiao and Marquez would make for an interesting fight. And, even though Pac-Man has gotten the better of Marquez in terms of overall record, the perception is that Marquez is Pacquiao's equal at the very least.
If nothing else, Pacquiao vs. Marquez never ceases to entertain. Because of that, The Ring contributor Mike Coppinger welcomes another rematch:
Some observers might suggest that Pacquiao should focus on some new challenges and go after some younger fighters in order to help build new stars. There may be no younger fighter capable of beating Pacquiao, though. At least when it comes to Marquez, he knows that it will be a tough outing.
Among all of Pacquiao's potential opponents, Marquez is definitely the biggest-known commodity.
Pacquiao put another feather in his crowded cap when he handed Bradley the first loss of his professional career. Although it was far from Pac-Man's greatest accomplishment, there is a certain amount of pride that comes along with blemishing someone's record. It can be argued that he isn't ready for a challenge like Pacquiao, but Kell Brook is more than willing to put his perfect mark on the line as well.
The 27-year-old Brit is one of the fastest-rising stars in boxing, and he holds a record of 32-0 with 22 of his victories coming by way of knockout. Brook is ranked as the No. 4 welterweight in the world by The Ring, but his biggest win thus far has come over Matthew Hatton, so it's safe to say that Pacquiao would be an incredibly big step up from his usual level of competition.
Brook is still climbing the ladder right now, but he expressed a desire to take on Pac-Man all the way back in 2012, according to Edward Chaykovsky of BoxingScene.com.
I think people have seen how fast Manny is, but honestly, and I don't know if it is because of the Ingle [Gym] style and what I've seen, I think I can beat him. Manny is only human, Matthew [Hatton] said he thought I was better than [Saul] Alvarez and I think I'm ready to step up to the highest level.
It stands to reason that Brook's confidence has increased even more since then, but he is at the mercy of Pacquiao. Maybe he can make something happen if he continues to poke and prod Pac-Man, but he may have to wait in line behind Marquez for the time being.
Like Brook, Shawn Porter's age and relative lack of big-fight experience may not immediately appeal to Pacquiao, but the fighters have history together, which could improve Porter's chances to locking horns with Pac-Man in the near future.
The 26-year-old Porter is a former sparring partner of Pacquiao's, and he has a great deal of respect for the veteran fighter's skill set, per FightNights.com on Twitter:
Porter currently boasts a 23-0-1 record, with the only blemish being a draw against Julio Diaz in 2012. Porter went on to beat Diaz in a rematch, though, meaning that he has conquered every challenge put in front of him. The biggest win of Porter's career unquestionably came late last year when he beat Devon Alexander for the IBF Welterweight Championship.
He has another big battle on the horizon against Paulie Malignaggi Saturday night, and if he is able to come out on top in that fight then Pacquiao will be forced to take notice. Wins over Alexander and Malignaggi would really establish Porter as a contender within the division and perhaps even someone worthy of facing Pacquiao.
The fact that Porter knows Pacquiao well could potentially help him if they ever go at it, but Pac-Man knows Porter just as well. Their history could make for a great cat-and-mouse game that would almost certainly entertain boxing fans.
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