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Manny Pacquiao's Next Fight: The Fighting, Wounded Pride of the Philippines Has a Serious Choice to Make

Manny Pacquiao celebrated on Saturday, but he wasn't having a good time after the fight. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Manny Pacquiao celebrated on Saturday, but he wasn't having a good time after the fight. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times said last night on Twitter that Manny Pacquiao's business manager Michael Koncz reports that the fighter hasn't made any decision on who he'd like to fight next, be it Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time or otherwise.

Does that leave the door open for Floyd Mayweather negotiations after all?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Koncz also said that the decision will be up to Pacquiao himself, not Bob Arum: "Bob will advise. This is Manny's decision."

This is going to be something very important to remember: If, indeed, there are no negotiations to face Mayweather, which remains the fight that the vast majority of the paying audience wants to see, we've been told explicitly by Team Pacquiao's Michael Koncz that this is Manny Pacquiao's decision.

One thing I wonder: Is there a possibility that the negative reaction of two straight Las Vegas crowds, for entirely different reasons, is getting to Manny? Manny loves being loved. He loves being the hero, The People's Champion, the exciting fighter who gives us what we want.

The people have been demanding Mayweather vs Pacquiao. And they're growing restless more and more, after every fight.

When Pacquiao cruised past a stink-it-out, old version of "Splenda" Shane Mosley on May 7, the crowd at the MGM booed, and they booed for good reasons. While Mosley deserved the majority of that, and probably was the intended recipient for most, Pacquiao wasn't without fault. He couldn't catch up to him. Couldn't put on a show. And we went into another round of "when will they fight?" for Manny and Floyd, with Pacquiao coming off of a lousy fight that was not the one anyone had asked for in the first place.

[ Related: Floyd Finally Takes the Upper Hand in Ongoing Press Battle ]

Attendance and attention, it seemed, were paid mostly because Manny Pacquiao deserved it. But how much longer?

The Marquez fight elicited a far more consistent, far more emotional reaction. The largely Mexican crowd felt that their man, Juan Manuel Marquez, had pulled what would have been arguably the biggest upset of boxing's new century. Instead, they got a decision that may not deserve to be called "controversial," but can't be described many other ways.

Almost immediately after the fight, Arum stated their intention to pursue a fourth fight with Marquez, and forget about this Mayweather stuff. The same Arum who had spent a couple weeks poo-pooing the idea of Manny negotiating with Mayweather after Floyd announced his return date of May 5, for various increasingly reaching reasons, up to and including Mayweather being a racist who would potentially damage Pacquiao's political career.

I think it's hard to find a whole lot of evidence that supports the belief that Arum wants to make Mayweather vs Pacquiao happen.

But as much as Manny may want Marquez, legitimately for his own pride and to try to convincingly defeat the man who has been his equal three times, he just might be feeling the heat from the criticism surrounding both the decision over Marquez and the steam-gathering thought out there that it's Team Pacquiao, not Team Mayweather, holding up boxing's biggest event.

Manny Pacquiao has never been criticized this way. I'm not suggesting he's fragile and can't deal with it, but rather, that this could be another open wound for his pride. He didn't convince everyone he'd beaten Marquez, and he's losing favor elsewhere, too. And although it may be the harder fight, just signing up to face Floyd Mayweather is the quickest way to assure the fans -- his people -- that he's really their champion.

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