By Chris Robinson
At the moment, all signs seem to indicate that it will be Mexico City's Juan Manuel Marquez who will serve as Manny Pacquiao's opponent for his November 10th return to the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Marquez knows Pacquiao very well, having fought him in three excruciatingly close battles, the most recent being a majority-decision loss this past November that once again left him crying foul.
Having served as the Filipino idol's cut man in his last eight contests, the respected Miguel Diaz seems to prefer Marquez at this point.
"I'd like to see, for the public, Marquez," Diaz recently told me as we spoke at Long Life Fit in Las Vegas. "I didn't see him winning that [third] fight. The best you can give him was a draw. I know his corner was telling him 'Stay away, you won that fight'. I don't think that was good advice for Marquez."
Not wanting to get ahead of himself, Diaz then seemed to recount just how fiercely competitive Marquez has made all three of his showdowns with Pacquiao, all the more reason to look at him as still being formidable.
"On the other hand, who am I to say that Marquez doesn't have the right style for Pacquiao?" Diaz would ask. "He's shown already, even the time that he was dropped in the first round three times, and still he boxed good enough to get a draw. Listen, it's a great fight. The two styles accommodate each other very well and it's going to be another great fight if that happens."
Two other names in consideration for Pacquiao are Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto and WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao stopped Cotto in the 12th round in their November 2009 clash and he suffered a highly-controversial split-decision to Bradley on June 9th.
Diaz knows Cotto very well, as he worked his corner from his professional debut in February of 2001 all the way up to his victory over Michael Jennings at Madison Square Garden in February of 2009 and he paid the Boricua bomber some respect.
"Cotto, he got beat by Pacquiao very bad that particular time," stated Diaz. "Cotto has a better chance today than three years ago."
When the final bell rang for Pacquiao's fight with Bradley, Diaz was certain that his man had won and didn't anticipate the reading of the scorecards with any kind of suspense. It was only when the official tallies were read, with two of the 115-113 verdicts favoring Bradley, that reality set in.
"I was cutting his wraps and he was telling me 'Miguel, I love you. You're always good with me' and I said 'I love you too Manny'," said Diaz. "I was cutting the wraps and I didn't even want to hear Michael Buffer, because I know my fighter won by four, five points. When I heard 'And the new champion', he asked me 'What happened?' and I said 'You lost your championship'. That was unbelievable."