Manny Pacquiao will reportedly be back in the United States this Sunday, after which he'll meet with Top Rank executives and discuss plans for his next fight, scheduled for November 10 on HBO pay-per-view.
Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO) has two obvious options: A rematch with Timothy Bradley, to look for revenge after their incredibly controversial June 9 bout, or a fourth fight with Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's greatest rival.
There are still open questions in both fights. Pacquiao-Bradley, of course, had the majority of viewers feeling Manny deserved a win he didn't get. Pacquiao-Marquez would continue where their epic story left off in November, when Manny got a win that many viewers felt he didn't deserve.
Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO) has made clear he wants the fight with Manny, and so has Bradley (29-0, 12 KO). The November bout with Marquez outdid the June fight with Bradley in every way business-wise, drawing a couple million more at the gate, and selling far better on pay-per-view (early indications are that Pacquiao-Bradley did about 900,000 buys, which is a failure if you're repping The Money Team but a strong showing if you live in the real world).
Manny Pacquiao only has, as far as everyone will say, a few fights at most left in his career, maybe three. At 33, we're seeing him wind down what has been a phenomenal career, or if he stays active another decade (which, since it's boxing, wouldn't be the most shocking thing ever), then we're seeing him wind down the awe-inspiring years of his career. One has to wonder if he'll push for the fight that's probably worth more money (Marquez) or the one with the most recent controversy (Bradley). Against Marquez, he'd be fighting in a sense to "clear his name," and finally get that decisive win. Against Bradley, he'd be fighting to prove that yes, he should have had his hand raised.
To me, both are compelling matchups. I know some people aren't into the Pacquiao-Bradley II idea, but I'm fine with it -- for one thing, I have to assume Bradley can fight better without messing up both feet early in the fight, and even though I thought Manny won, that was good, high-level stuff in the ring. Pacquiao-Marquez IV is sort of the final chapter in a great book for me. No matter who wins or loses, or if they finally just go ahead and fight to an actual draw, that should be it, the last great fight of a great era of featherweights, now at welterweight.