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Mark F. Villanueva




 
News  


Who’s next for Pacquiao?


PhilBoxing.com




Exactly a week ago last Sunday in the Malaysian Capital City of Kuala Lumpur, Manny Pacquiao floored World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse thrice on the way to a seventh round stoppage and gifted himself a piece of the 147-pound jewel.

That was the Filipino fighting senator’s first inside the distance win in nine years since technically knocking out Miguel Cotto in 12 rounds in 2009 in the process crowning himself the welterweight kingpin for the first time.

That, too, signalled his return to the elite group of big-timers and the possibility of fighting for big-time money denied him by a streak of losses that relegated him, momentarily, to the list of has been fighting for mere crumbs.

"I'm still here," Pacquiao declared minutes after denying the Argentine of his crown only six months after winning it. "Sometimes you just need to rest and get it back, and that's what I did. I’m back."

“The journey continues,” one of the placards displayed during the post-fight press conference said. The victory was his 60th in 69 fights of his 23-year professional career. And his 39th via stoppage, proof that Manny still has a lot left in his tank.

That no one ever doubted the would-be outcome surfaced weeks or even months before the KL sleeper as to who the Filipino eight-division belt-owner will be facing next.

Pacquiao has yet to reveal his preference for his next opponent after disposing off Matthysse, but his body language as of late seems to point to Briton Amir Khan as tune up for bigger titleholders.

Even his Australian strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune has sounded interested in seeing the Pacman square off with Khan, for the several years has been craving to meet the three-time Fighter of the Year, whom he used to spar.

Khan’s huge following in the boxing-crazy United Kingdom and big-moneyed Middle East countries were reasons Fortune advanced in choosing Khan as his pupil’s next dancing partner, preferably in London.

This bout is dependent on the outcome of Khan’s coming fight on September 8.

Fights against Keith Thurman, who holds the WBA 147-pound title, IBF champion Errol Spence Jr or WBO king Terence Crawford have also been mentioned as potential big pay days for Pacquiao even if there’s the possibility of him losing.

Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), also a Top Rank fighter, looks the easiest for the Filipino legend to make although the biggest fight for Pacquiao now is against Vasyl Lomachenko, boxing's pound-for-pound No. 1.

Loma, who is scheduled to fight in November or December, though needs to be convinced to step up from lightweight (135-pound) to catchweight for him to fight the 147-pounder Pacquiao.

Pacquiao has previously talked of fighting Ukraine's Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who is also promoted by Top Rank.

A rematch with Jessie Vargas, whom Pacquiao out-pointed two years ago, is possible, too, but the American is next behind Pacquiao in the WBA rankings and at No. 3 with all four world governing bodies.

A farewell fight in the Philippines, where Pacquiao last fought 12 years ago, against a benign opponent would be a fitting farewell for a boxing legend and spare him from defeat against a younger opponent.

But that would have to come later. Retirement is far from the Pambansang Kamao’s mind at this time.

Following his disappointing performance against Pacquio, Matthysse, at 35, may never fight for major title again and, therefore, is out of the picture for a rematch.

The same goes to Australian Jeff Horn, who beat Pacquiao in a highly questionable unanimous decision last year in his own turf Brisbane.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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