Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank
The WBO Welterweight title has returned to its rightful owner, but what is next for Pacquiao?
There have certainly been an abundance of people who suggest that Pacquiao has lost his edge. Many argued that he should retire. It is those people who likely fueled the world champions desire to show just what he is made of.
Pacquiao has repeatedly stated that he has not lost his killer instinct and made it clear that his time in boxing is not yet over. After watching his performance against Bradley it would be fair to say that although he is not the young Pacquiao we once knew, he is without a doubt still an elite world champion.
The victory that PacMan achieved during the rematch against Bradley holds much more weight than if he would have won in 2012. Many would agree that Bradley was a much higher caliber of a fighter during the rematch than he was in the initial matchup.
With that being said, given Pacquiao’s dominating performance, it is likely certain that he will defend his title in 2014. I think the big question that everyone is wondering is who his likely opponents are.
There’s really only three names that are legitimate to talk about when it comes to facing Pacquiao.
Simply put, it is very probable that the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado will be Pacquiao’s next opponent.
Photo edit by John Garita/Round By Round Boxing
The second option would be a matchup with his stable mate, Ruslan Provodinikov. Although many would call out on Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum to make this fight happen, it would seem that should Marquez win on May 17, 2014, he would likely be the front runner to land the fight against Pacquiao.
It is very obvious that Top Rank is running out of options for Pacquiao. They are running out of options for all of their Welterweights for that matter.
Sadly, Bob Arum has reached the bottom of the barrel with great fighters, trying to recycle matchups time-and-time again.
With the current situation between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, it would be fair to say that Pacquiao is unlikely to ever face off with champions from other promotional companies.
With the current stalemate, all that really is left are potential fights with Marquez, Alvarado, and Provodnikov.
One may ask why I left Bradley’s name off the list of potential rematches. Well, it’s simple, at this point in time the rubber match is not needed.
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It is certain that should the current business arrangements remain, Top Rank will likely attempt to match Pacquiao and Bradley up in 2015 only out of obligation, because there are no other options.
When it comes to Marquez, promoters will argue that business wise it makes sense. Although many fans are tired of seeing this matchup, the fight will be sold on Pacquiao seeking redemption for the knockout that shocked the world in 2012.
When it comes to pay-per-view sales it would also be the best fit for the current situation as well. In the event that Alvarado wins against Marquez, then Pacquiao’s fight may go into a marketing lottery with Provodnikov and Alvarado.
It would be fair to say that if Alvarado pulls off an upset against Marquez then the chances for Provodnikov’s opportunity to land to fight will significantly increase. Should this situation present itself, it would be likely that the opponent that Top Rank selects will be the one with the best marketing advantage.
At this point in Pacquiao’s career, it appears that he only has four opponent options while dealing with Top Rank.
It is very likely that we may only see Pacquiao enter the ring two to four more times before the boxing icon decides to hang the gloves up.
Regardless of the names of those next opponents, it is certain that Pac Man is back and his dominance in the sport remains a force to be reckoned with.
So although the question of “who” still remains, one thing is for sure, Pacquiao’s victory over Bradley validated his current place amongst the boxing greats.
Header photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank