With Margarito Vanquished, Who Does Manny Pacquiao Face Next?

Manny Pacquiao wants to keep fighting. Who's he going to fight? (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With a phenom boxer doing things unheard of in the sport, and that boxer having no intention to give up the fight game despite his many outside interests, promoter Bob Arum is finding himself in a bit of a pickle these days.

“I promote both Antonio [Margarito] and Miguel Cotto,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing. “Both of them got an ass-whipping from Manny. I ran out of my own guys. He’s beat all my guys.” (Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports)

Count Joshua Clottey, too. Old Mr. Arum is out of suitable in-house opponents for Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao battered Miguel Cotto into submission. He pounded through the high-held guard of Clottey for a one-way win in March. And last night he beat the living hell out of the comparatively gargantuan Antonio Margarito.

So, then. Now what?

The obvious answer is Floyd Mayweather Jr., of course, but "Money" has some pretty big reservations about fighting Pacquiao, no matter what he says about playing fields being even. While I agree with his cause (Olympic-level testing for big-time boxing), I don't agree that he's doing it to "clean up boxing." He's not out there crusading to have it done across the sport during his downtime, he brings it up when Pacquiao is mentioned to him, and he got Shane Mosley to go along with it in May to "prove" that it wasn't just Pacquiao. Shane Mosley wanted that payday and that opportunity so bad he'd have fought with his feet tied together.

But anyway, without going into the whole big thing, just count Mayweather out for now. Aside from any reservations, he also has legal troubles right now, as does his uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather. If that fight happens in 2011, consider it a minor miracle, and be thrilled. But don't count on it.

So Floyd's out. So, then. Now what?

Miguel Cotto

Yeah, right to it. Don't believe Arum's line about being out of fighters. That's like TV Land saying they're out of episodes. Just put the same thing on again. After all, now they're both titleholders at junior middleweight, and this time, Cotto would be trained by Emanuel Steward instead of himself Joe Santiago.

The upside for business (and don't fool yourself, it's about business and strictly business if they can help it) is that both are still promoted by Top Rank. Also, Cotto has gotten a foot in the door at Yankee Stadium, where they could hold a rematch with Pacquiao. And barring that, did you know Manny's never fought at Madison Square Garden? If that's something that interests him, maybe it could make the pot a little sweeter for him, and giving New York fight fans the city's first live glance at Manny in action could be pretty special. We all know that Cotto draws there, and it could be a rabid crowd.

The downside is we've seen the fight and I don't think anyone, even the biggest Cotto fans, really would see anything other than the inevitable happening.

Sergio Martinez or Paul Williams

It probably sounds insane, but what doesn't sound insane about what Pacquiao has done since 2008? It's not likely, but would it shock me if Pacquiao fought the winner of Martinez-Williams II for the lineal middleweight belt at a 154-pound catchweight? No. Nothing Pacquiao does shocks me anymore. I wouldn't even be shocked if somehow he defied the odds and won -- and the odds would be against him facing the big, slick Martinez, or the tremendously bigger Williams.

Juan Manuel Marquez

We know Marquez wants it, and we also know Marquez isn't much good over 135 pounds, where he's pushed himself. As great a fighter as JMM is, Pacquiao would slaughter him at this point. In their first meeting, Manny hadn't yet developed into the fighter he is. In the second meeting, they were both fighting at what was at the time a peak level. Now? Marquez is old, worn out, slowed down. He's still really good as a lightweight, but Manny is a dominant welterweight at this point. They are not even close to the same stage of their careers. Juan Manuel Marquez will always be Manny Pacquiao's greatest rival, in my view, but the time for a third fight has passed. If they make that fight, it's just Marquez getting a payday and foolishly chasing a fight he can't win anymore, and a time-filler for Manny. Seriously. And before anyone brings it up, Manny will not be dropping to 135 or even 140 to fight Marquez. They might be able to get Manny to agree to a 144-pound catchweight, but he has no reason to fight below that anymore.

Shane Mosley

Mosley does not have nearly enough left in the tank to be competitive with Pacquiao. Pacquiao would bust him up and tear him to pieces, and I say that while once again being ready to declare myself a huge Shane Mosley fan. I love the guy. But he's not the fighter he used to be. I almost cringe calling Mosley "shot," but it's my feeling that he is. He was dominated by Mayweather and looked awful against Sergio Mora, and neither of those guys prepare him for Manny. But if it's not a Cotto rematch, Pacquiao-Mosley is what I expect.

Minor Possibilities

Timothy Bradley will fight anyone, but has little name value and has a tough fight in January against Devon Alexander, with reports saying that a rematch will happen after if it makes sense. Amir Khan and Pacquiao are not just friends who have sparred plenty, but are also both trained by Freddie Roach. Unless something dramatically changes, that fight's not happening. Andre Berto is a maybe at best.

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