Manny Pacquiao: Taking a Guess at His Next 5 Opponents

James FoleyCorrespondent IJune 17, 2011

Manny Pacquiao: Taking a Guess at His Next 5 Opponents

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 07:  Boxer Manny Pacquiao listens to a question at a post-fight news conference after he defeated Shane Mosley by unanimous decision to retain his WBO welterweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Manny Pacquiao, along with Floyd Mayweather, is one of the most lucrative draws in Boxing. The man across the ring from him stands to make a lot of money and has a huge opportunity for greater spoils and glory with a victory.

    To fight Mayweather or Pacquiao is one of the most coveted opportunities in the sport. This list is based on Pacquiao's own suggestion, or perhaps someone from the Pacquiao camp, that the great Filipino superstar would take two fights a year through 2013.

    One disclaimer—this list is going to assume Manny is victorious in the first four fights, because obviously a Pacquiao loss would upset the schedule and probably result in a rematch. That's too complicated a notion for me to factor into this fictitious exercise. This is merely a theory of what could happen.

NOVEMBER 2011: JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ

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    LAS VEGAS - JULY 31:  WBA/WBO lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (R) hits Juan Diaz in the eighth round of their bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center July 31, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marquez retained his WBA and WBO lightweight championship bel
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Alright, so I had to cheat a bit. This guarantees I get at least one right. If you believe that Pacquiao will fight twice a year through 2013 and then at least consider retiring, that only leaves five more fights, including Marquez.

    I expect Pacquiao will decisively put away Marquez this time around. The size difference is too vast and Pacquiao is younger and stronger and more refined than he was in previous bouts with Marquez. He will overpower the great Marquez, but the Mexican legend will go down swinging.

SPRING 2012: FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.

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    MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 29:  Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr watches a game between the  Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Arena on November 29, 2010 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by download
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Let's hope, for the sake of everything that's been written countless times before, that this super fight will finally happen. If Mayweather can get past Victor Ortiz—not as easy a proposition as some people have suggested—and Pacquiao beats Marquez, there should be nothing stopping this incredibly hyped event from finally transpiring. Well...nothing except for the slew of issues that have muddled and derailed it in the past.

    But let's keep our fingers crossed. And if Pacquiao can do the incredible and finally give the Pretty Boy that first loss and Floyd walks away from a rematch, then possibly....

FALL 2012: MIGUEL COTTO

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    LAS VEGAS - MARCH 12:  Miguel Cotto enters the ring against Ricardo Mayorga to defend his WBA Super Welterweight title  at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    After beating Mayweather (and that's not a prediction, but for the sake of the article I'm considering that possibility), Pacquiao will be faced with a similar dilemma as he did before he selected Marquez. Take on a young up-and-comer from the 140 lb division, but who knows who will be relevant at that point? Bradley? Khan? Guerrero?

    Whoever emerges will be seen as a legitimate challenger for Manny, but Bob Arum might want to keep Manny's next fight a Top Rank affair. He may let Miguel Cotto, who is in the twilight of his very good career, have one more crack. Remember, Arum likes fighters with names.

    Now by this point, fall of 2012, Cotto would have had to pass two tests: defeat Antonio Margarito and do it in convincing fashion. And then, probably take out either Kermit Cintron or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., two potentially big fights that Top Rank could put on. If Cotto wins both fights, he will have tallied four in a row since losing to Pacquiao, and he can claim to have avenged the only other loss of his career.

    Maybe his skills aren't what they used to be and Miguel has definitely been through a war or three. But he has a champion's heart and like Marquez before him, he probably deserves one more chance at greatness and vengeance. He may help Pacquiao tune up for the higher weights, which his final two challenges will demand. 

SPRING 2013: CANELO ALVAREZ

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Saul Alvarez of Mexico hits Carlos Baldomir of Argentina in the WBC Super Welterweight Silver Title fight at Staples Center on September 18, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    If the cinammon-haired sensation from Mexico keeps his undefeated record and keeps plowing through the field at 154 lbs, he will become a worthy option for Pacquiao. He'll bring the attention and passion of the super fans from south of the border. These next couple of years will tell if Canelo is the real deal.

    If Canelo can beat an Angulo or a Cintron or even a Paul Williams, if he comes back in full force, he will surge on the pound-for-pound lists and rank with Cotto at the top of the junior middleweight division. If Canelo keeps rising and stays trim enough to make a 150 lb catchweight, in a couple of years this will be one of the biggest fights in the sport.

FALL 2013: SERGIO MARTINEZ

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    ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - NOVEMBER 20:  Sergio Martinez enters the ring against Paul Williams for the Middleweight Championship fight on November 20, 2010 at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This involves a lot of variables and is probably the least likely of any scenario. But if Martinez keeps barreling through everyone in the middleweight neighborhood, still looks sharp and doesn't suffer another defeat, while also staying comfortable at the weight and still being flexible to make a 155 lb catchweight, this would be the perfect fight to cap off Manny's incredible career. It would be a chance for him to challenge for a legitimate title in the middleweight division.

    I've written before about how ludicrous it is to suggest that Manny should have to ascend Mt. Martinez because of the enormous size difference (possibly 25 lbs on fight night). Along with the fact that Sergio has the quickness and athleticism to not stand there and take punishment all night. But that's not to say things can't change in over two years from now. It's inevitable Martinez will slow down a bit as he approaches 40, and maybe the great champ will seem more vulnerable in a couple of years.

    Pacquiao has achieved more than 99 percent of the athletes who take on the often vicious and unforgiving sport of Boxing. He certainly does not need a middleweight crown to validate himself. But one can't deny, it would be sweet.

    While I would heavily favor Martinez right now and probably anytime this mythical bout were to occur, I don't discount Manny Pacquiao from beating anyone. For a fighter who has always pushed his seemingly boundless limits, this would be the ultimate test. The greatest capper to a remarkable career. And with a victory, a solid argument could be made for Manny as one of the greatest little men to ever compete in the sport.