Now that Manny Pacquiao has decided to remain with the same promoter and TV network that helped him become one of boxing’s most successful and popular fighters, interesting bout options are available for the seven-division world champion.
Pacquiao, 35, strengthened loyalties with promoter Bob Arum and HBO after his announcement last week that he plans to fight through the end of 2016.
With his next fight planned for November, followed by two bouts in 2015 and 2016, Pacquiao will explore the landscape between the 140- and 154-pound weight classes as he ponders matches worthy of pay-per-view significance.
For starters, don’t expect the long-desired but now seemingly impossible dream match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. The Philippines native and Mayweather have been linked everywhere but inside a ring.
You can pick multiple reasons why the fight never happened, but boxing fans likely will never be treated to the still potential mega-bout between the sport’s top pay-per-view performers.
Instead of the unlikely Mayweather match, odds are favorable that Pacquiao again will face Juan Manuel Marquez. Contemporary boxing rarely showcases two fighters past a three-fight trilogy. But if they meet again, Pacquiao and Marquez will fight for an unprecedented fifth time.
The obvious angle to hype the fifth bout is Pacquiao’s attempt to avenge his sixth-round knockout loss against Marquez two years ago after their first three close bouts ended in a draw and two narrow Pacquiao decision victories.
A fifth fight with Marquez seems marketable, but what additional alternatives does Pacquiao have past his Mexican rival?
Convincing the fight public of a tiebreaking third fight with Timothy Bradley could prove difficult. Bradley won a hotly disputed decision in their first bout two years ago before Pacquiao evened matters with a solid decision in April.
Yet, the pay-per-view numbers for the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch didn’t fare as lucratively as anticipated.
An appealing opponent to help fill Pacquiao’s remaining fight docket is Ruslan Provodnikov. The native of Russia emerged from the pack after his relentless and power-punching performance against Bradley last year. Bradley won a close decision but sustained a concussion from the bout’s physical toll.
Provodnikov will face Chris Algieri for a 140-pound title June 14. Like Pacquiao, Bradley and Provodnikov are promotionally linked to Arum, helping close deals to possible bouts.
Recent meetings between Arum and promotional rival Oscar De La Hoya suddenly could provide Pacquiao with additional and intriguing possibilities.
De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions represents fighters such as Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and multiple-sanctioning bodies’ 140-pound titleholder Danny Garcia.
A Pacquiao-Alvarez bout likely will exceed the lucrative threshold of a million pay-per-view buys. Alvarez, a former 154-pound champion, has arguably become Mexico’s most popular fighter.
Garcia emerged as the top fighter in the 140-pound class after impressive wins against Lucas Matthysse, Zab Judah and Amir Khan. But Garcia hinted of a possible move to welterweight following his disputed decision win over Mauricio Herrera in March.
Although the rival promoters seem interested in matching their respective fighters and providing Pacquiao a new list of rivals, TV commitments could become the sticking point to finalize bout agreements. While Pacquiao renewed ties with HBO, Golden Boy promoted fighters, such as Alvarez and Garcia, fight for Showtime.
The obvious solid possibilities for Pacquiao are matches with Marquez and Provodnikov, should Provodnikov further enhance his value with a win over Algieri. Beyond Marquez and Provodnikov, however, will remain a mystery. Much will depend on future promotional agreements and TV commitments that could lead fighters to the list of potential Pacquiao opponents.Adonis Stevenson Andrzej Fanfara