By Chris Robinson
The next fight for Manny Pacquiao appears to be close to finalized, as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum recently met with the eight-division champion in his native Philippines to discuss his November 10th return.
Set to again grace the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Pacquiao was said to have three realistic options at this point, including return encounters with Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto, as well as a rematch with WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley. Bradley upset Pacquiao on June 9th via split-decision but the fight was extremely controversial, with the public overwhelmingly giving the edge to Manny after twelve rounds.
Speaking with HBO analyst Larry Merchant about Pacquiao's future, he admits that it is the Bradley fight that he would last like to see at this point.
"I would say the one that interests me the least right now is Bradley," Merchant told me on Saturday evening. "For reasons I stated before, I don't think it's a good idea to have a rematch of that fight in terms of the conspiracy theories of what went on during or after the first fight. I think that could wait."
Merchant added that while all three of Pacquiao's bouts with Marquez have been great and while Cotto still stands as a formidable challenge after a spirited effort in his decision loss to Floyd Mayweather on May 5th, he is unsure whether the public would welcome those fights.
If Merchant had his choice, he would bring in some fresh blood at this point.
"I would hope there would be somebody who's new to challenge," Merchant stated. "I think that what Pacquiao needs is somebody who wants to fight him, to show whether he still has it. A guy who can close the show, a guy who gives us action and drama.
"The guys he's fought recently wanted just to box him, and that's understandable, but in terms of his career and in terms of his credibility, I think he needs to fight somebody who's going to fight him," Merchant added.
There had been whispers that Pacquiao was considering bypassing a November bout in favor of a match with Floyd Mayweather in early 2013 but after repeated failed attempts to make the fight, Merchant would prefer him to at least stay busy.
"If that's his plan, that's his plan," added Merchant. "I don't know. I'd rather see him fight somebody than nobody."
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