Next week, Manny Pacquiao will be facing off against long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez to put an end to their seven-year long trilogy. It appears that many people are already looking past this fight and looking on to the next one.
Even though the two men have yet to fight, people are already talking about who Pacquiao's next opponent might be next year.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. recently made waves as a possible opponent for Pacquiao on May 5th, 2012. Leonard Ellerbe broke news that they have the MGM on hold for May 5th and that they want the biggest fight available.
As tempting as this may seem, I don't think that this fight will be happening next for either man. The fact that they already chose the venue and the date for Mayweather's next fight without talking to team Pacquiao fuels my theory. Despite a potential fight between the two men would probably happen there, I don't think team Pacquiao would take to kindly to Floyd picking the venue and date.
Another reason is that team Pacquiao (Arum and Alex Ariza mainly) have been talking a lot recently about how a Mayweather fight isn't going to happen or is a joke. It doesn't seem like they're taking the concept of the two fighting seriously at the moment. Maybe they're waiting until after the Marquez fight, but until then, they don't seem to take very lively to the idea.
There aren't really many options at welterweight either.
Andre Berto is seemingly busy with his future match with Randall Bailey and the possible rematch with Ortiz next year. Kell Brook is a possibility, but he'd rather win a title first (from Berto or Senchenko) and then challenge Khan. Same with Mike Jones, an undefeated boxer that Arum indicated as a future Pacquiao opponent. Most likely Arum will try to make a match between Berto and Jones if he wins his upcoming match.
So you may be wondering who has a good chance of getting in the ring with Pacquiao next.
Personally, I think the person who has the best possibility of getting into the ring with Pacquiao next is undefeated junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley.
Some people probably think that there is a very slim chance of this happening since Arum has indicated in the past that Bradley isn't necessarily next for Pacquiao soon after signing him to Top Rank. Before then though, Arum was mouthing off how he'll probably match Pacquiao with Bradley in the spring of 2012.
I see this as the most likely case happening. Arum's doing his job of giving Bradley more exposure than his former promoter, Gary Shaw, ever did. Not only will he be on the undercard of one of the biggest pay-per-view events of the year, but Bradley will also have a public sparring session with Marquez at Santa Anita Park.
His name is getting out there, and the fact that he's undefeated and an African American will be a selling point for casual fans that Bob Arum will undoubtedly use. I reference his race only because Pacquiao has been criticized for not fighting African-American boxers.
So, write it in your calendars. Pacquiao will be fighting Timothy Bradley in May 2012 if he manages to defeat his long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez next week.