Manny Pacquiao is still undecided on who he will face on March 15, with his U.S. trip delayed, but Top Rank's Bob Arum is on the case for his top star.
One thing is clear: Joan Guzman is not being considered, which seemed apparent after his win over Humberto Soto last Saturday, a fight that drew mixed reactions. Arum's wasn't positive. Pacquiao will either square off with WBC super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez in a long-awaited rematch or take on 135-pound banger and WBC titleholder David Diaz. Arum says he has no preference, and that Golden Boy and Marquez have been "reasonable" in negotations, but let's cut through the B.S. and go out on a limb that says Arum would prefer Pacquiao keep it in the Top Rank family and fight Diaz, who is as hot now as he'll ever be coming off of a win over Erik Morales.
It's also true, though, that Pacquiao-Marquez II, with heavy promotion from both companies and HBO, would be the bigger money fight. One question that has to be faced is Manny's dedication and ability to make 130 pounds, a task at which he struggled for the Barrera rematch.
I said it before, but if the Pacquiao that decisioned a lame, slow, tentative, and powerless Barrera that night showed up to fight the Marquez that just beat Rocky Juarez, I think Marquez knocks him out during one of those cowboy exchanges that Pacquiao loves so much. Pacquiao never really hurt Barrera, something he did repeatedly four years ago.
I get the impression it's leaning toward Pacquiao-Diaz for now, but I hope I'm wrong. That Manny-Oscar in September thing just keeps popping up, too. As much as I'd consider it an exhibition more than anything, you're damn right I'd pay to see it. Why not? I think Oscar knocks him out because the size is just too much, but it'd be a hell of an attraction.
One interesting quote from Juan Manuel Marquez before we move on: "(Talking about Diaz) is an indication that he's really scared and doesn't want any part of me. He knows I'm the only man who can beat him. I'll destroy him."
Zab Judah and Carlos Quintana are in talks for a fight on the undercard of Pavlik-Taylor II in February. It'd be a step back up in competition for Zab, but going the distance his last two fights just doesn't seem like it can possibly be spun that this is still Zab Judah. I'd favor Quintana, whose utter schooling of Joel Julio was swept under the rug after Miguel Cotto drilled him to the body one too many times.
There had previously been talk of Lou DiBella trying to set up a Quintana fight against his top welterweight prospect, Andre Berto. Quintana would've been very dangerous for Berto -- ask Julio. Maybe that's why they decided not to go ahead with it. I love Berto as much as anyone, but I loved Julio, too (and still do, in fact).
The WBO is ordering bantamweight champ Gerry Penalosa to defend against his mandatory challenger, Thai fighter Ratanachai Sor Vorapin. Penalosa has said that he wants to fight once more, so I could see him just waiting for his desired rematch with Daniel Ponce de Leon at super bantamweight and giving up his strap instead of fighting Vorapin. I also wouldn't really blame him, nor would I think any less of him. I find it almost impossible to side with the sanctioning bodies on anything, particularly some of their outlandish mandatory challengers. Again, did the world need to see Ray Austin against Wladimir Klitschko? I still hope Ray at least got to sightsee in Germany before he went back home.