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Sunday, May 3, 2009

What does the future hold for Manny Pacquiao?

Now that the smoke has cleared from the latest “fight of the year”, what’s next for Manny Pacquiao?

A battle with Floyd Mayweather Jr. seems the most likely scenario. But what if Mayweather can’t hack it against Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18? If he loses, where does that leave Pacquiao?

You’d think a fighter of Pacquiao’s stature would draw everyone in the 140- and 147-pound divisions, especially since Pacquiao got $12 million and Hatton $8 million. But this isn’t the 1960s where everyone would fight everyone. Money and promoters usually gum up the works.

There isn’t enough space here for a list of fights that never took place for selfish reasons. Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones Jr. II, de la Hoya-Trinidad II, Mosley-Mayweather…That doesn’t even scratch the surface.

After his destruction of de la Hoya and Hatton some fighters may even avoid him. Just ask Paul Williams. Finding a good fighter willing to meet you can be frustrating.

Curiously, Pacquiao was coy when asked if he would fight Mayweather, only to say: "I can fight anyone I want to fight at 147 or 140." That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for a Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-bout in November.

Just in case he doesn't fight Mayweather, which would totally give fuel to critics who claim boxing is dead, the following is a list of suitable fighters.

Miguel Cotto - Assuming he beats Joshua Clottey on June 13, this would be the next best matchup. Cotto got a new lease on his boxing life after Antonio Margarito was caught cheating.

Shane Mosley - The clock is ticking on Mosley, whose age is bound to catch up with him. Waiting until 2010 for another big fight won't help "Sugar" Shane's cause.

Joshua Clottey - If Clottey can upend Cotto, don't be surprised if you see this matchup. Clottey is filled with confidence and will explode if he tops Cotto.

Juan Manuel Marquez - Right now this seems like a long shot. But if he beats Mayweather, get ready for Marquez-Pacquiao III.

Timothy Bradley - Bradley was just stripped of his WBC junior weltweight title for not meeting the deadline to fight mandatory challenger Devon Alexander. But he is still the WBO champ, and might welcome a chance to put his name in lights. Although a talented fighter and undefeated, Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs) doesn't have the name right now to draw a mega-match.

Other possibilities include Paul Williams and Andre Berto. Williams is an extreme long shot because it's doubtful he would go back to welterweight now. And Berto doesn't have enough of a track record.


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