By Keith Idec
Bob Arum will leave Monday for the Philippines not at all sure which opponent Manny Pacquiao will pick for his next fight.
“I won’t really know until I see him,” Arum said regarding his typical practice of visiting Pacquiao in the Philippines prior to picking an opponent. “I’m going to let him make the call. It’s all up to Manny.”
A rematch against Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) and a fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) are believed to be Pacquiao’s top options. A less necessary rematch against Miguel Cotto could be the lucrative fight Pacquiao picks as well, but weight probably would be an issue since Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) is completely comfortable fighting at 154 pounds and Pacquiao barely is a welterweight.
Cotto contends weight was a contributing factor in his 12th-round technical knockout defeat to Pacquiao in November 2009 in Las Vegas. They fought at a catch weight of 145 pounds, two below the welterweight limit, despite the fact that the fight was contested for Cotto’s WBO welterweight title.
Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) has since won a 154-pound championship, but the Filipino superstar weighed just 144½ pounds for his 12-round domination of Mexico’s Antonio Margarito, who weighed in at the contract maximum of 150 pounds for their November 2010 bout in Arlington, Texas. Pacquiao relinquished the WBC super welterweight championship after defeating Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs, 1 NC) and returned to welterweight for a WBO title fight against Shane Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs, 1 NC) in May 2011.
If Pacquiao picks Bradley, the undefeated fighter from Indio, Calif., is contractually obligated to oppose Pacquiao on Nov. 10, probably in Las Vegas. Pacquiao could decide, however, that a Bradley rematch isn’t necessary because the vast majority of the paying public recognizes that Pacquiao obviously deserved to win a 12-round fight Bradley technically took by split decision June 9 in Las Vegas.
The 33-year-old Pacquiao has much more of a score to settle with the soon-to-be-39-year-old Marquez, who easily could’ve been declared the winner of a 12-round WBO welterweight title fight Pacquiao controversially won by majority decision nearly nine months ago in Las Vegas.
“I met with him at my house [in Las Vegas] before he went to Israel [last month],” Arum said of Pacquiao, “but I haven’t talked to him since. I really don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s playing poker with me. He was totally non-commital [last month].”
Arum expects Pacquiao to chose his next opponent during his trip to the Philippines because Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and HBO Pay-Per-View must begin coordinating a multi-city press tour to promote Pacquiao’s next fight. Arum expects that press tour to begin the first week of September.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.