PACQUIAO WATCH: Who Will Beat Pacquiao Down The Road?
By Edwin G. Espejo
12 Jan 2008
Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao has been inked to fight at least three times this year, including his March 15 rematch with Mexican World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez.
His handlers and promoters said Manny would do three more bouts in 2009 before contemplating on what to do next in 2010 when he reaches 31 years old (he just turned 29 last December 17).
Manny is undoubtedly nearing the apex, if he has not yet reached the crest, of his phenomenal boxing career.
With already 50 fights tucked under his belt, Manny is not getting any younger.
Boxing is a cruel and brutal contact sports that longevity lessens with every bout a boxer piles up on his record.
Right now, Manny is rated by most boxing analysts and by the prestigious Ring Magazine as No. 1 in his division with Marquez breathing right next to him.
Marquez is likewise considered the No. 3 pound for pound (P4P) boxer in the world today after his conquest of twice-Pacquiao victim Marco Antonio Barrera.
Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a controversial draw in their first meeting in 2004 for the latter's super bantamweight crown.
Their March 15 date is a four-year rematch-in-the-making to settle an "unfinished business."
The two have gone separate ways since their first exciting encounter.
Manny is now one of boxing world's top draws having fought the likes of Morales (thrice), Barrera (twice), Oscar Larios and a slew of Mexican and Thai boxers after his coming out party with a slambang conquest of South African Lehlohonolol Ledwaba seven years ago.
Marquez is in a renaissance of sorts after he lost his crown to Indonesian Chris John several years back and is on the roll.
The Marquez encounter, sources say, could be Manny's last fight in the super featherweight class.
He has run out of opponent and his rapidly growing body could no longer withstand the rigors of making the weight limit.
Manny will invade the lightweight ranks after his Marquez date. That is how his handlers are mapping out his career.
The lightweight division is now loaded with talents that any card featuring Manny against the top contenders and even champions in that class will surely be a hit in the box office.
There is David Diaz who holds the WBC version of lightweight division and Juan "The Baby Bull" Diaz who holds the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation sides of the best lightweights in the world today. Australian Michael Katsidis and aging Cuban Joel Casamayor are also lining up to trade leathers with Manny
Many in the super featherweight, Manny's current official fighting weight, are aching to have a shot at him because a fight with the world's No. 2 will earn them their first million-dollar purse.
There is World Boxing Association and Venezuelan Edwin Valero who already knocked out all his 20 or so opponents without suffering a single loss. Joan Guzman, who holds the title in the WBO version, has repeatedly called out Manny's name. He, too, is undefeated.
These guys will have to move up in weight if they hope to engage Manny inside the ring.
All of them have a legitimate shot at inflicting Manny's second loss since losing his WBC flyweight crown to Thai Medgeon Singsurat in 1999.
Manny's other loss since then was to Erik Morales whom he knocked out twice in a succeeding rematch and a grudge fight.
Of all the possible opponents mentioned, Manny has more than even chances of either knocking them out or prevailing by decision, all things being equal.
But the one fighter that will perhaps give Manny the fits is one rising featherweight in the person of 22-year old Jorge Linares, a Venezuelan who has been fighting most of his career out of Venezuela and Japan.
The kid is hungry, packs a wallop from both hands and can unload bombs from all angles to go along with his vastly improving ringsmanship. These, plus his 5'8" frame will give Manny more than his share of troubles.
But that would be down the road when Linares continues to grow and gain confidence.
Assuming Manny stays at 135, the 126-lbs Linares could be Manny's most dangerous opponent two or three years down the road.
It would be very exciting if the two will eventually meet inside the ring.
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