As time rolls closer and closer toward autumn, the speculation about Manny Pacquiao's next opponent will only gain steam. At first, it seemed an almost guarantee he and his career-rival Juan Manuel Marquez would lock horns for a fifth time, likely in September. However, slowly but surely, other options have crept back into the mix. And Marquez may not be as keen on a fifth fight as originally thought.
Bob Arum talked to Boxing Scene about what's next for Pacquiao, and he basically gave his usual at-this-point-we-don't-know answer.
"I've got four guys and after the March 30 rematch between Rios and Mike Alvarado they will sit down with me and we'll figure this thing out.
"Manny might fight Rios if he beats Alvarado or he might fight Bradley in a rematch or Marquez in a fifth fight. I've got four attractive fighters and I'll mix and match them."
So, yeah, Bob doesn't really add much here. He just tells us that all options are open, frankly.
Personally, I feel like the balance has shifted a bit over the past month or so in terms of who will fight who. I thought it was a guarantee that Pacquiao and Marquez would square off again this coming fall or winter. Now, I'm not so sure. Marquez has been very slow to show any eagerness toward getting the fight made. That may just be a negotiating tactic. Then again, maybe it isn't. What we do know is that Marquez will be at the March 30 card to watch Rios face Alvarado. Is he scouting? Or is he just wanting to watch what should be another great fight?
And what about Tim Bradley? He certainly did his career no favors by sitting idle for nine months after the win over Pacquiao, and turning down offers to fight Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov (before settling for Provodnikov anyways). Then he goes out and raises his profile more than ever by having what may end up as the Fight of the Year against Provodikov on HBO in a fight that drew a higher rating than Bernard Hopkins' fight a week earlier. With Bradley becoming a bigger name from a war (that will be replayed by HBO on Sunday in primetime, by the way) and looking vulnerable as ever, don't be surprised if his name slips back into the talks to face Manny. The vast majority thinks that Pacquiao handled Bradley the first time, and Bradley may have had something taken out of him after fielding so many head shots from Provodnikov. He could be the perfect opponent for Pacquiao to come back with.