Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says Manny Pacquiao should be ready to go by next February, and insists that Pacquiao himself will choose his next opponent. But to help facilitate the process, Arum has complied a list of five potential opponents, all of them surprisingly tough for a comeback fight coming off what was described as a major injury. Arum has been in discussions with each of the five potentials, and will present the offers to Pacquiao and let him decide who he wants.
Who are the five? Arum shortlists Amir Khan, Kell Brook, Terence Crawford, Lucas Matthysse, and Juan Manuel Marquez. The Khan fight we've heard a lot about, mostly because Khan won't stop talking about it. Kell Brook hasn't been linked to Pacquiao much, but if he gets the fight over Khan that would be epic. Terence Crawford has been linked to a Pacquiao fight, but most people viewed that as a "passing of the torch"-type fight that Arum would put together when Manny was ready to walk away -- so he could showcase his new talent on a bigger stage. A Lucas Matthysse fight should be guaranteed fireworks, and Juan Manuel Marquez is still on the fence about retiring.
It appears that Arum's personal preference would be to make the Khan fight, saying that Khan would make it more worthwhile since he could draw more U.K. fans across the pond.
"If Manny fights Khan, Khan will probably bring 3,000 or 4,000 people over from the U.K. for the fight," Arum said.
He also says the fight can be made because despite his contention with Khan's advisor Al Haymon, he's been working directly with Khan's father and uncle to negotiate the fight.
"We won't deal with Haymon. We deal directly with family about fighting Manny Pacquiao," said Arum.
That doesn't seem to be an issue for Haymon as Khan himself says that Al has granted him his blessing to do what he thinks is in the best interest of his career.
Revisiting Juan Manuel Marquez, Arum also adds that there's big interest on their part in making a fifth fight happen -- but I don't see why Marquez would be interested in another fight since he literally can't top what he did in their last one.
"We want to know for sure the status of Juan Manuel Marquez before we make any decisions," Arum said. "Fernando [Beltran of Zanfer Promotions] is meeting with him to see what he wants to do. His knee appears to be 100 percent. Fernando told me he sparred a few rounds recently to test it out. Marquez would be the most lucrative fight, and Manny would be happy to fight him again."
The point is, all of these fights are both good and tough fights for Pacquiao, so credit to him for not looking to take any tune-ups. Which fight do you think should be made next for Pacquiao? How would you rank the list of five opponents?