It's down to two: Timothy Bradley or Ruslan Provodnikov will be the opponent for Manny Pacquiao on April 12, when Manny returns to the ring on HBO pay-per-view and comes back to Las Vegas most likely. Promoter Bob Arum will meet in Los Angeles with Pacquiao's chief adviser Michael Koncz tomorrow, and the two hope to finalize a deal.
Bradley (31-0, 12 KO) would seem to be the frontrunner, as the unbeaten WBO welterweight titleholder is only unbeaten due to an extremely controversial decision win over Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO) in June 2012. An immediate rematch was passed over by Team Pacquiao, as they instead sought a bigger money fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, which resulted in Pacquiao being knocked out in December 2012.
Since then, Bradley has scored wins over Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO) in a Fight of the Year candidate and then Marquez this past October, winning a decision on HBO pay-per-view. Marquez, who Arum says is "definitely out" of the race and is sticking to his guns not wanting to face Manny again, wants a rematch of his own with Bradley, but the bigger money is in Bradley-Pacquiao II. There was no controversy in Bradley's win over Marquez, but there may still be some itch in him to prove that he's really better than Manny and deserves to be seen as such. A rematch and a clear win would do that for him, and make him more money.
Provodnikov, 29, turned heads with a ferocious performance against Bradley in March, barely losing on the cards and dishing out a hell of a beating on the favored man. He followed that up with a return to 140 pounds in October, stopping Mike Alvarado in Alvarado's hometown of Denver to win the WBO belt.
Pacquiao fought just once this year, cruising past Brandon Rios on November 23 in Macao. The fight was a pay-per-view disappointment from a financial standpoint, and was Pacquiao's lowest-performing bout in half a decade.
Who should Manny face next? Do you want to see the Bradley rematch or would you rather see Provodnikov get the shot?