Manny Pacquiao: Next fight options after Provodnikov upsetWritten by Leroy Cleveland
(Image courtesy of HBO)
Ruslan's rugged, come-forward style, durability, punching power and, yes, jovial persona, made him an ideal opponent for PacMan in November.
Moreover, a solid win over the previously surging Provodnikov would have only enhanced Pacquiao's marketability and increased the pressure on Team Mayweather to help ensure the Floyd vs Manny showdown came to fruition.
And keep in mind, given his financial woes and slightly diminished stock of late, Pacquiao is seemingly in dire need of a high-profile, big-money match-up against a highly-respected opponent with a presumed strong chance of winning.
So now what?
Who will Manny Pacquiao, the WBO welterweight champion and one of sports' top stars, fight next?
1. Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KO) - Will Pacquiao vs Algieri really happen in November?
Earlier this week, promoter Bob Arum told the press, "The fight that I’m going to try and zero in on and put together is Pacquiao vs. Algieri, after Chris beats Provodnikov on June 14th.”
Two problems: Algieri is still unknown to casual fans let alone the general public. Secondly, he doesn't fight in a fan-friendly style. Couple those issues with the fact many believe he was awarded a "gift" decision last night and Pacquiao vs Algieri may make Pacquiao vs Rios look like Pacquiao vs Mayweather from a marketability standpoint.
2. Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 KO) - Of course Mayweather vs Pacquiao is the fight everyone wants to see and it would still be the biggest in the entire history of the sport should it happen in September. However, given all of the drama surrounding this fight's backdrop don't look for it to happen soon - and certainly not in 2014.
Can you believe Mayweather vs Pacquiao has been bantered since 2009?
Given Mayweather's presumed alliance with Al Haymon and Richard Schaefer, the prospects for this megafight have never been so dim.
3. Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 KO) - Cotto is on fire so a Pacquiao vs Cotto rematch would certainly sell, but Cotto is campaigning at 154/160 lbs while Pacquiao is still a welterweight. Of more significance, they fight in the same stable and share one trainer, Freddie Roach.
For a myriad of reasons, Pacquiao vs Cotto 2 will not happen... Well, at least not anytime soon.
Miguel Cotto, unlike Pacquiao, has quite a few options and is comfortable targeting other opponents for now.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KO) - A fifth fight with Marquez would definitely yield nice dividends but who knows if JMM really wants another encounter with PacMan?
"I want that fifth championship, and if that does not exist for me then I'm closer to retirement," Marquez insisted.
And WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has what Marquez covets - A major world title at welterweight.
But JMM believes he won all four of his fights with Pacquiao and, as result, demands to be paid on even terms should they fight again. Facts are facts and regardless of what Marquez thinks, Pacquiao is still the far bigger draw and deserves at least two-thirds of the revenue split.
Will Manny Pacquiao take a sizeable purse dip to fight Marquez again? JMM may be his most realistic, lucrative next fight option.
5. Tim Bradley (31-1, 13 KO) - FightSaga's No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter and conqueror of Marquez, Bradley has already fought Manny twice and most believe he was on the losing end both times. The rematch, while an entertaining and competitive affair, doesn't exactly have fans clamoring for a third bout.
When or if Bradley defeats another big name perhaps he'll be considered as a Pacquiao opponent one more time.
Move onward, Tim...
6. Canelo Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KO) - There's been talk of Canelo fighting PacMan at 154 lbs. Keep in mind, Manny jaunted to 154 in 2010, defeating the much larger Antonio Margarito to capture a world title. But Alvarez is an entirely different animal than Margarito.
Will Manny risk it all against Canelo?
Regardless, Alvarez has a very tough assignment next month when he faces Erislandy Lara. In the minds of some, that's a 50-50 fight. More importantly, win or lose versus Lara, Canelo potentially has a big showdown looming with Miguel Cotto.
All stated, Provodnikov's loss makes Pacquiao vs Canelo far more realistic than was the case 24 hours ago... But can it happen in November or December?
7. Kell Brook (32-0, 22 KO) - Pacquiao vs Brook in the UK anyone? If Froch and Groves could pack 80,000, Pacquiao vs Brook would garner tremendous interest as well.
Problem: Kell Brook is fighting Shawn Porter in August. And even if Brook is victorious, there wouldn't be enough time to properly prepare and promote a November superfight with Pacquiao.
8-13. How about Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, Marcos Maidana, Erislandy Lara, Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman?
Khan vs Pacquiao would be massive but Amir, like the rest, is an Al Haymon/ Showtime fighter and it's not likely Brother Al will be doing business with Top Rank or HBO by the end of the summer.
Imagine how big Pacquiao vs Maidana could be.
But thanks to promotional and network rivalries such fights would be difficult, although not entirely impossible, to make by year's end.
The Darkhorses: Desperate times call for desperate measures
14. Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO) - Does the former lineal middleweight champion starve himself to meet Manny at 154 lbs in a title-less affair?
When campaigning to fight Mayweather in 2012, Martinez insisted he could comfortably make the jr middleweight limit and despite his one-sided loss to Cotto last weekend, Sergio is still a big name who has headlined two pay-per-view events.
Given Sergio's size advantage and the lingering questions about both fighters, this match-up intrigues and would probably sell on curiosity and fanfare alone.
And if you're Sergio Martinez, what better way to thrust yourself back into prominence than face the legendary Pacquiao? By all means, Martinez is a darkhorse but Manny needs a big name opponent and Sergio, at this point, may be forced to think 'outside the box' to remain relevant in boxing.
15. Vyacheslav Senchenko (35-2, 24 KO) Talk about darkhorses... Remember this guy? From 2011 to 2013, Pacquiao vs Senchenko in Ukraine was a real possibility.
"The Ukraine people haven't seen Manny and Senchenko's promoters are very wealthy," Roach told the Philippine Star circa late 2011.
"His promoters control the coal and metal mines in the country. Manny could fight Senchenko in Ukraine for a lot of money."
Since then, Senchenko, a former WBA welterweight champion, is 3-2. He knocked out a comebacking Ricky Hatton in 2012 but was KO'd himself by Paulie Malignaggi prior to the Hatton bout and Kell Brook afterwards. And in his most recent bout in January, Senchenko defeated a fella who was 0-11.
Does Manny face Senchenko in a stay-busy fight?
If the aforementioned losses and Senchenko's devalued stock don't rule out Pacquiao vs Senchenko, the turbulence in his native Ukraine does.
On the surface, it would appear Pacquiao has options galore given the talent from 140 to 154 lbs. However, a deeper dive reveals quite the contrary.
Who's next for Manny Pacquiao?
Creative fight fans, do you have any suggestions?