First of all, there is no need for a rematch. HBO’s Jim Lampley remarked right after the fight that a third encounter is very possible, and Max Kellerman turned that prediction down. Halfway through the fight, when Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2) and Timothy Bradley (31-1) looked even on the cards, we all would have thought it was a good idea.
But when Pacquiao virtually swept the last six rounds, boxing like his old self while Bradley uncharacteristically swung haymakers for a one-punch knockout, a third fight seemed like a distant memory.
But where does that leave the two? It seems that the way things are, they’ll get right back to each other. Let’s start with the Fighting Pride of the Philippines. News broke today that Pacquiao is about to sign a five-fight deal that will run through 2016, keeping him with Top Rank Promotions and attaching him with HBO.
The first of those bouts is likely against the victor of Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado later in the year. Marquez is the favorite, which could ignite a fifth fight between the rivals in which Pacquiao holds a 2-1-1 edge. The preceding four fights have delivered to create the grandest rivalry of this century, and although Pacquiao-Marquez V would make monetary sense, it has drawn the indignation of fans for what seems to be overexposure.
As for Bradley, it looks like there is nowhere else to go except to the loser of Marquez-Alvarado. Bradley won convincingly over Marquez last October for the biggest legitimate win of his career, and a rematch with the Mexican legend would lose the PPV luster it carried six months ago. One name that will be tossed around either guy will be Ruslan Provodnikov, the up-and-coming, television-friendly brawler who lost the 2013 Fight of the Year to Bradley and knocked out Alvarado last October.
The glaring problem facing Pacquiao and Bradley is that there are no fighters in the 147-pound weight class who they have not beaten; at least fighters that are not connected with Top Rank’s rival promoter Golden Boy Promotions. Take a look at the top welterweights in the world, and Pacquiao and Bradley sit at the top, right above Marquez.
But after is a long list of intriguing, youthful boxers that belong to Golden Boy and Showtime: Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Devon Alexander.
Look the weight classes above and below welterweight, and they too are locked and loaded with Golden Boy-ers. At junior welterweight, Golden Boy/Showtime have Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan. Upward to the 154-pound junior middleweights, Richard Schaefer carries a lineup featuring Erislandy Lara, Canelo Alvarez, and of course Floyd Mayweather.
Because Golden Boy and HBO parted ways a little over a year ago, dream fights between Golden Boy fighters and ones represented by Top Rank and Bradley and Pacquiao are stuck right in the middle of it. The limited amount of match-ups hurts every boxing enthusiast, and with such a lack of possible challengers, there will be no other options but for Pacquiao to step back in the ring against Bradley.