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Who Should Manny Pacquiao Fight Next?

BY Kelsey McCarson ON July 04, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao is slated to return to action this November in a bout likely to take place at the Venetian in Macao, China, but who will his opponent be? Better yet, who should it be?

Pacquiao is currently riding a two-fight win streak. After getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, Pacquiao returned to the ring almost one full year later to outclass Brandon Rios over 12 rounds in China. Earlier this year, Pacquiao avenged his 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley by outworking the previously undefeated Bradley over 12 rounds.

The two wins put Pacquiao right back where he was before getting hit by Marquez’s perfectly timed counter punch two years ago. Pacquiao is considered by most pundits to be one of the top three pound for pound fighters in the sport.

But Pacquiao is 35 years old now. While he has maintained most of his speed, agility and technique, he certainly isn’t the same fighter he was back around 2009. No, Pacquiao is a fraction of a second slower than the prime version of himself. In boxing, that’s huge. In addition, Pacquiao does not seem to carry the same explosive power he did back then, and he does not throw punches with as much reckless abandon.

The good news is that Pacquiao seems to have improved greatly as a technician over the last year. He played it cool and smart against both Rios and Bradley, and did little things here and there to show an older Pacquiao is also a wiser one.

That should be good enough to keep Pacquiao elite for the near future, but it will remain important for him, as it is for any fighter nearing the end of his career, to maximize his earnings. That means Pacquiao should go for only the biggest, best and most historically important fights for the rest of his career.

With those stipulations in mind, it seems a bout against Chris Algieri needs to be off the table. Look, Algieri did well for himself in his win over Ruslan Provodnikov last month and deserves another TV opportunity against a good foe, but a Pacquiao-Algieri fight would mean almost nothing to Pacquiao’s legacy. The fight would be a tough sell to fight fans who are sick of spending 75 bucks a pop on PPVs every single month, and there’s almost nothing Algieri did against the limited Provodnikov to make me think he’d be competitive against Pacquiao.

Ditto to former Pacquiao sparring partner Amir Khan. The ambitious Khan has moved on from calling out Floyd Mayweather to start calling for a bout against Pacquiao. Khan has fast hands and a lanky body. He’s trouble for anyone so long as he can keep them on the end of his punches. Khan’s problem is that he can’t seem to do that against elite competition, and while Pacquiao-Khan would be more palatable and likely do better numbers than Pacquiao-Algieri, it’s still a bout no one is clamoring for and for good reason: Khan has done nothing to earn a shot against Pacquiao.

In a perfect world, Pacquiao might get a rematch with Miguel Cotto. Poor Cotto was walloped by prime Pacquiao back in 2009. But Pacquiao seems to have regressed since then, and some believe the Cotto that destroyed Sergio Martinez for the lineal middleweight title last month is the best version of Cotto ever seen. But Cotto is now also trained by Freddie Roach, and it would be hard to imagine either man trying to make that fight while other lucrative and historically important clashes remain on the table for each. Still, there would be no more historically significant bout for Pacquiao to land than one against Cotto for the middleweight title.

In an even more perfect world, Pacquiao would at long last get a fight against Mayweather. The two have been linked as possible opponents since Pacquiao destroyed Oscar De La Hoya back in 2008, but the fight has never happened thanks to the rival camps’ unwillingness to work with each other. If you’re a Pacquiao fan, you blame Mayweather for the bout never taking place. If you’re a Mayweather fan, you take the opposite position. There’s a good enough argument for either case to be plausible, but at this point, who really cares? The fight has never been made and probably never will be.

Now that the cold war is thawing a bit, there’s been some talk of matching Pacquiao against Canelo Alvarez. That’d be a huge promotion, but there are several kinks that would need to be worked out for the fight to take place. First, Pacquiao would have to be comfortable moving up to junior middleweight. Alvarez made 152 for his loss to Mayweather last year but seems to be outgrowing that possibility more and more every day. Moreover, the fighters are linked to different cable networks. Alvarez fights on Showtime while Pacquiao performs on HBO. Who would air the fight? Perhaps most importantly, though, Alvarez would need to get past Erislandy Lara on July 12. If he loses to Lara, it would seem silly to pit Pacquiao against Canelo at all, and beating Lara is not a given.

Pacquiao has technically split fights with Tim Bradley. But almost everyone in the world that saw the first fight back in 2012 knows Pacquiao should have been given the nod then. If they didn’t before, they got a better idea of it after seeing Pacquiao easily outpoint Bradley earlier this year in the same fashion. The judges got it right in this one, and Pacquiao was awarded a comfortable decision. It’s conceivable the two might meet again before Pacquiao retires, but Bradley would first need to do something big to earn the opportunity.

It is here, perhaps, the seemingly muddled view of options becomes almost overwhelmingly clear. For as much as Pacquiao and Mayweather will be tied together forever for what they didn’t do together in the ring, Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be tied together forever for what they did do together over four prolific fights. Each fight was brilliant. Pacquiao holds a 2-1-1 edge over Marquez, but the great Mexican champion put a stamp on his belief that he deserved the nod in all three previous decisions by knocking Pacquiao out in fight number four.

Pacquiao and Marquez are two of the best champions of the era. They have every reason in the world to give fans one more exhibition of their brilliance against each other, and there’s no better time for it than now. The fight has significance for both fighters. A Pacquiao win would solidify his standing over Marquez as the better fighter. Another win by Marquez, though, would flip the coin over to him.

The two sides have yet to agree to terms for the bout. No doubt, Marquez wants to be paid handsomely to face Pacquiao a fifth time, and he should be. He’s earned that. Moreover, the two would need to agree on pre-fight drug testing as well as all the other specifics that go into putting a fight of this magnitude together. Whatever it takes to make the fight happen, it’s the only one that makes sense for both men in the fall. Pacquiao should fight Marquez for the fifth time in his career to round out 2014.

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Comment on this article

Radam G says:

Good question. The pugvine is saying that he is leaning toward the Cali Ghost Robert Guerrero. But Da Manny wants the Real McCoy Marquez. But that Marquez is only reappearing for $20mil. So that is a no go.

And in Macau, the Hulkquez cannot and will not show. Marquez -- metamorphosing to dat muscle-heavy bytch -- can't get pass testing by VADA or the Chinese authorities.

They are equiped to catch that "Tales From the Crypt" "Grorm" that is rumored to be in his arse. Holla!

oubobcat says:

I'd love to see a Guerrero fight. Guerrero's association with Al Haymon in a major hindrance though in making this a reality.

Marquez does seem to be pricing himself out. I really believed Arum was going to try everything in his power to get Marquez to take the fight. Right now, it just doesn't seem Marquez is interested. Marquez could always change his mind and lower his financial demands. I won't rule him out until we hear of an official announcement.

As for Algieri, well that's one tough fight to market. The public is already irate enough over this Golden Boy card and loudly voicing their displeasure. If they are fed Algieri as Pacquiao's next opponent that response to this would be far worse than the outcry over the Golden Boy card on August 2nd. And don't think for a moment that Top Rank is not aware of this.

By the way, I am not knocking Algieri as a fighter. I think he is a very good fighter who has had a great start to the year and done things in the ring nobody thought he would. He is growing and improving a lot as a fighter. He has some ways to go though before stepping on the main stage on a big PPV fight and as part of the main event. He is not there yet. Could he be someday? Yes, but not in November.

So who does that leave? Well guess who on twitter this week announced that their next fight will be in Macau later this year (gave no opponent, just the site). Ruslan Provodnikov. He is popular and a very fan friendly fighter. It makes too much sense as their is nobody else available at the moment. And that is who I know believe Pacquiao will be facing come November.

Skibbz says:

Ruslan will be fighting in Macau but most likely on the undercard and not in the main event alongside Pacquiao. Maybe if Pacman and his team don't find the right opponent they may work that fight but it's not good for either fighter to take really as much as I would love to see it.

A good opponent for Pacquiao would be Amir Khan. The Macau date would work well for him to get ready after his religious obligations and it's closer to his Asian fan base. Money talks and the Cold War is ending. It can be made in my opinion.

Radam G says:

Ruslan will be fighting in Macau but most likely on the undercard and not in the main event alongside Pacquiao. Maybe if Pacman and his team don't find the right opponent they may work that fight but it's not good for either fighter to take really as much as I would love to see it.

A good opponent for Pacquiao would be Amir Khan. The Macau date would work well for him to get ready after his religious obligations and it's closer to his Asian fan base. Money talks and the Cold War is ending. It can be made in my opinion.


If Da Manny ever fights Amir Khan, it will likely be in Abu Dhabi. And there be no fight Da Manny and the "Siberian Rocky." Holla!

The Commish says:

My first choice for Manny would be Robert Guerrero. Taking out his absolute horrific non-effort against $$$May, Guerrero makes for exciting fights (see Andre Berto & Yoshihiro Kamegai, among others). The Guerrero who showed up for both of those fights will make for this being a highly-entertaining match. The Guerrero who showed up against $$$May will make for an evening for fans to sit back and marvel at Manny Pacquiao for looking like the Pac-Man of five years earlier. It will be target practice for him all night long. Either way, it'll be entertaining, with Pacquiao on the winning end whichever Guerrero shows up.

I would also love to see Pacquiao face Chris Algieri. However, I wonder what weight they'd fight at, as Algieri is a true 140-pounder who does not kill himself to make that weight. However, a seven-figure payday may convince him to start drinking a few more protein shakes per day in order to inch closer to the welterweight limit.

A third matchup I would not mind seeing is Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez #5. Like the other four, it promises to be nothing but action and possible surprises (even if Pacquiao wins, he'll probably get dropped along the way!). Who knows? This one might be so thrilling that we'll be clamoring for #6!

How about another Timothy Bradley fight? Nah. I hear you.

I'd also love to see Pac face Ruslan Provodnikov, but the two have expressed reluctance to face one another. In the Sweet Science, I csan't stand reluctance!

No matter who the opponent will be, I look forward to Pacquiao getting back in the ring!

-Randy G.

Radam G says:

If Da Manny ever fights Amir Khan, it will likely be in Abu Dhabi. And there will be no fight between Da Manny and the "Siberian Rocky." Holla!


Hehehe! Amir Khan has become more of an arsehole and phony than his fanfaronades and groupies would like to admit to. Dude was thrown in the slammer in Bolton for beating the heck out of two fellow teenage Muslims outside a Mosque.

WTF! OMFG! He will fight for free during Ramadan whuppin' up on sidewalk-dwelling teenager Muslims, but he won't fight a month after Ramadan because of fasting. What another d@mn holy humbug. Holla!

Radam G says:

If Da Manny ever fights Amir Khan, it will likely be in Abu Dhabi. And there will be no fight between Da Manny and the "Siberian Rocky." Holla!


Hehehe! Amir Khan has become more of an arsehole and phony than his fanfaronades and groupies would like to admit to. Dude was thrown in the slammer in Bolton for beating the heck out of two fellow teenage Muslims outside a Mosque.

WTF! OMFG! He will fight for free during Ramadan whuppin' up on sidewalk-dwelling teenager Muslims, but he won't fight a month after Ramadan because of fasting. What another d@mn holy humbug. Holla!

Skibbz says:

Hehehe! Amir Khan has become more of an arsehole and phony than his fanfaronades and groupies would like to admit to. Dude was thrown in the slammer in Bolton for beating the heck out of two fellow teenage Muslims outside a Mosque.

WTF! OMFG! He will fight for free during Ramadan whuppin' up on sidewalk-dwelling teenager Muslims, but he won't fight a month after Ramadan because of fasting. What another d@mn holy humbug. Holla!


I heard about this, is it confirmed? A bit embarrassing to say the least especially during the 'holy month' where fighting is forbidden. Talking of Ramadan RG didn't you say you're in Mindanao at the moment? I read a global security report last night, Mindanao has a few Islamic Jihadists operating guerrilla and insurgent style tactics in recent time. Anything serious?

Back on topic, Pacquiao Algieri would be a complete shambles. Those i'd like to see face Algieri would be Dulorme, Mayfield or Postol.

Radam G says:

I heard about this, is it confirmed? A bit embarrassing to say the least especially during the 'holy month' where fighting is forbidden. Talking of Ramadan RG didn't you say you're in Mindanao at the moment? I read a global security report last night, Mindanao has a few Islamic Jihadists operating guerrilla and insurgent style tactics in recent time. Anything serious?

Back on topic, Pacquiao Algieri would be a complete shambles. Those i'd like to see face Algieri would be Dulorme, Mayfield or Postol.


Nanananananananananananana! Ramadan is when fighting intensifies among "Hadith"-believing/following Muslims between each other and people outside the belief. Ramadan is just the belief of the Prophet Muhammad being given the spoken words of the Qu'ran by the archangel Jibril. And that is why it is celebrated.

Yup! I'm in the Mindanao. But the main-island area where I am attending amateur boxing is in near perfect harmony among Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Qu'ranic-believing Muslims. On the adjacent small islands, you have hadith-believing nutcases from every country on the globe itching for "Jihad." Holla!

SouthPawFlo says:

I would like to see Manny Fight Broner at 140...

The promotion will be an easy one, it'll sell and that'll be a set-up for a possible Mayweather fight is Manny looks impressive...


If not AB then Amir Khan... That'll be an easy promotion as well, I would love to see Khan talk about how Freddie Roach's training wasn't the best for his style, khan has the movement and speed to give manny a little trouble, and even though I don't think he can win against Pac Man it'll be a good watch...


The Ghost won't sell after the way he lost to Mayweather..

Algeri won't Sell because nobody knows who he is.

Terrence Crawford isn't ready

The Russian is coming off a loss so that won't sell either.

Marquez had priced himself out

Radam G says:

Will be a goner -- I mean Broner -- likes to see that fight too. Hehe! Holla!

brownsugar says:

I'm sorry but I need a little mystery and variety in my fights.
Watching Pac versus Marquez again is like eating soggy oatmeal for breakfast for the fifth time in a row.
Besides Marquez will never land his famous "come to Jesus" ambush punch on Pac a second time.
Bradley wasted a whole fight trying to duplicate Marquez's knockout strategy to no avail.

Pac has learned from that fateful encounter and has evolved to become a more complex and complete fighter as a result.

Marquez's best days are behind him on the well trodden path of yesterdays memories.

We need fresh blood. Fresh young blood in the personage of the vivaciously confrontational Keith Thurman, Shawn porter, or the relatively young and concrete cranium endowed Robert Guerrero. We've seen Pac in some of the most sensational fights that took place in the last decade. Now we want more. ... Only now, we want to see Pacquioa pit his legendary skills against the next generation of top guns.

While I'm at it toss Khan and Kell Brook's name into the hat as potential list of challengers.
I want to see a welterweight fight that will affect my pulse-rate.

thegreyman says:

I've had soggy oatmeal every day of my life Bsug! And that's no lie!

I agree though, there's a new generation of welterweights, and they need to be pitted against the old champs. I'd watch him fight Marquez, but it would be the very worst choice of opponent.

oubobcat says:

The issues with fighters such as Guerrero and Khan are that they are advised by Al Haymon. While it would be great to see one of them in the ring with the Pac Man, the relationship between Haymon and HBO is completely fractured at this time. HBO does not want to do business with Haymon and until that changes these fights for the moment will not happen.

Arum wants to make that fifth fight between Pac and Marquez. But it seems at the moment like Marquez is not interested. Certainly, Arum is going to try, try and try again until that door is closed.

If Marquez is out, I think that leaves Provodnikov as the most logical choice. The public has made it clear that they are not interested in an Algieri bout. A lot of people feel Provodnikov beat Algieri anyway and his all out aggressive style is much more fan friendly than Algieiri's. I think the signs right now are pointing to a Pacquiao-Provodnikov showdown this November in Macau.

Radam G says:

The issues with fighters such as Guerrero and Khan are that they are advised by Al Haymon. While it would be great to see one of them in the ring with the Pac Man, the relationship between Haymon and HBO is completely fractured at this time. HBO does not want to do business with Haymon and until that changes these fights for the moment will not happen.

Arum wants to make that fifth fight between Pac and Marquez. But it seems at the moment like Marquez is not interested. Certainly, Arum is going to try, try and try again until that door is closed.

If Marquez is out, I think that leaves Provodnikov as the most logical choice. The public has made it clear that they are not interested in an Algieri bout. A lot of people feel Provodnikov beat Algieri anyway and his all out aggressive style is much more fan friendly than Algieiri's. I think the signs right now are pointing to a Pacquiao-Provodnikov showdown this November in Macau.


"The signs" are perpetrating a fraud. Come November, the "Siberian Rocky" will not be an opponent for Da Manny. Optical illusions are everywhere. And the "theatre of the unexpected" can squash a petty beef in a New York minute.

HBO and tsAH are ALL about making dough. They will stoop low. Their first and last priority is a big show. And with moolah-paying arses in every seat in every row. And for those PPVs to grow.

Showtime is not doing what the naive and nearbys thought it would and could do. Picking at one of thAH's biggest-making money dawg is/was a no no. With HBO, it is now a business-a-go-go. Holla!

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