Many people felt that for Manny Pacquiao to beat Oscar De La Hoya, it would take a feat so amazing that the fight was better suited to be held under a circus big top than in a traditional boxing venue.
So if you’re Pacquiao and you have just leap-frogged two weight classes to not only defeat The Golden Boy but completely dominate and dismantle him, where do you go from here?
The answer, of course, is anywhere you want to.
Pacquiao began the year as a 130-pound super-featherweight before moving up to 135-pounds to win the WBC lightweight championship. The win over De La Hoya now establishes him as a legitimate force in the 147-pound welterweight division.
The fact that he can fight and win in so many divisions leaves him with an awful lot of options. And as a huge pay-per-view draw, he offers an enormous payday for whoever climbs through the ropes to square off against him.
He didn’t simply beat De La Hoya. He knocked him off his perch as the hottest commodity in the sport.
What then is the next logical move for Manny? Does he return to lightweight and try to unify the title against triple-belt holder Nate Campbell? Does he make a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez after his recent narrow and controversial decision win over him?
Or does he do what many expect and go after Ricky Hatton at junior-welterweight? This would be a classic match-up, with two very aggressive and offensive minded fighters banging away at each other.
Another option would be to remain at welterweight and hunt for large prey. But how would he fare against the likes of tall, steamrolling, titanium jawed Antonio Margarito?
Paul Williams has voiced his desire to slip back down to welterweight should an opportunity present itself. But is Pacquiao game to get after it with a six-foot-one inch southpaw?
Miguel Cotto is another option at some point as well. And of course there is young, fast WBC champion Andre Berto.
When you’ve reached the station in professional boxing that Pacquiao has, tradition and business sense dictate that you take the biggest money fights possible, against the best known fighters out there.
At this point, Ricky Hatton, still enjoying his victory lap after throttling Paulie Malignaggi, seems to be the candidate that best fits that description.
For now, no one knows in which direction Manny will decide to wander. But it you’re Pacquiao, it sure must feel good to have all of that open road.
I don’t know that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter from junior-lightweight all the way through welterweight, but I do know one thing: he's no circus act.
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