The boxing world won’t have to wait much longer to find out whom Manny Pacquiao will be facing next. The 36-year-old is looking to fight for a final time in April of next year, and he’s expected to make a decision before the weekend.
“He’s absolutely positive we’ll have an answer by Friday,” Top Rank Promoter Arum said via ESPN.com.
There’s been much speculation surrounding who will get a chance to fight Pacquiao in the last bout of his illustrious career. Pacquiao hasn’t stepped in the ring since he was defeated by Floyd Mayweather in May, and he’s been rehabbing his shoulder that underwent surgery just days after the mega-bout.
There is a great deal of depth in the welterweight division, and there’s even been the thought that Pacquiao could potentially fight above the 147-pound limit for his last fight. But for the most part, there have always been just three boxers with a legitimate chance to face Pacquiao.
In many ways, Bradley is the most logical opponent for Pacquiao. He holds the WBO welterweight title, which Pacquiao lost to Mayweather, who eventually vacated the championship. Other than Pacquiao, no fighter in the welterweight division has a resume that approaches the one owned by Bradley. With wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez, along with a dominant TKO over Brandon Rios last month, Bradley has certainly earned a shot at the No.1 welterweight.
But there are just as many reasons why the fight won’t happen. The two boxers have met twice since 2012, and while another bout would technically be the rubber match, most experts believe Pacquiao won both fights handily. The 2014 rematch was considered to be a disappointment in terms of pay-per-view buys, and a third bout might generate even less interest. Bradley could also be eyeing a fight with Canelo Alvarez in May 2016, which might prevent Pacquiao-Bradley III from happening.
With Mayweather’s recent retirement and Pacquiao’s career about to end, Crawford has a chance to emerge as the next star of the welterweight division. After dominating the light welterweight division, the 28-year-old has proven himself to be one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. He is 27-0 in his career, and Crawford vs. Pacquiao might be the most entertaining fight that can be made. Not only could the fight be fun to watch, but several notable names have said they believe Crawford can beat Pacquiao.
Crawford, however, has never been in the main event of a PPV. It’s unknown how many buys Pacquiao-Crawford would generate, and while there was a lot of hype surrounding Gennady Golovkin’s PPV debut in October, his fight with David Lemieux only generated just over 150,000 buys. Will Pacquiao want to take a chance on facing Crawford in his final big payday?
Khan has been unsuccessfully looking for a fight with a big name welterweight for more than two years. All he’s done during that time is continue to win fights, entering 2016 with five consecutive victories. Khan’s last win came against Chris Algieri, whom Pacquiao defeated before losing to Mayweather. The Brit has faced every challenge that’s come his way, and he’s certainly earned his shot to take on the best that the welterweight division has to offer.
If Pacquiao wants to face Khan, that’s the fight that will be made. But there are obstacles that stand in the way. Arum is suing Khan adviser Al Haymon for $100 million, though the promoter has said he isn’t swaying Pacquiao’s decision either way. Even though Khan beat Algieri in May, he wasn’t incredibly impressive, and many believe that he won’t have much of a chance against Pacquiao.