After prolonging the announcement, Manny Pacquiao is almost ready to let the boxing world know whom he will face when he returns to the ring. The southpaw will reveal his next opponent on Friday, and it’s looking more and more like Pacquiao will take on Timothy Bradley.
Bradley is one of three boxers that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said Pacquiao has been considering for a bout on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Terence Crawford and Amir Khan are the other two options, but reports indicate that Bradley will get a third fight with the No.1 welterweight in the world.
Monica Bradley, Timothy Bradley’s wife and manager, has been in talks with Top Rank President Todd duBoef.
“A lot can change in the next three days, but Todd and I have developed a good relationship. I like the way we do business,” Monica Bradley said via the Los Angeles Times.
The L.A. Times reports that Top Rank has not discussed potential purse money with Crawford, making it seem unlikely that the 28-year-old will get his shot at Pacquiao. According to promoter Eddie Hearn, Pacquiao has decided not to face Khan, who could now move on to fight Kell Brook.
Bradley is a logical opponent for a few reasons. He’s the WBO welterweight champion, holding the belt that Pacquiao lost to Floyd Mayweather in May. Bradley is also coming off a dominating ninth-round TKO against Brandon Rios, and he might be better than ever under new trainer Teddy Atlas.
Another fight between Bradley and Pacquiao would be the rubber match of their previous two bouts. But considering the way both fights played out, Pacquiao-Bradley III will only receive so much hype. Bradley won a split decision in 2012, but the fight was shrouded in controversy and most experts believe Pacquiao deserved the victory. Two years later, Pacquiao got his revenge with a unanimous decision win over Bradley, and there didn’t seem to be a need for another rematch.
If Pacquiao-Bradley 3 happens, well, thru the first 2 fights I have Manny up about 20-4 in rounds.
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) December 7, 2015
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Pacquiao could choose to fight someone besides Bradley, Crawford or Khan. Last summer, Pacquiao surprised the boxing world by choosing to fight Chris Algieri, a relative unknown who had just one notable victory.
But with the welterweight division growing thinner with marketable fighters, Pacquiao's options appear limited. Juan Manuel Marquez reportedly will make a decision on a final fight in May, but it's doubtful that the Mexican star and Pacquiao will fight for a fifth time. Meanwhile, Argentine boxer Diego Chaves, American Errol Spence and IBF champion Kell Brook are not considered strong pay-per-view draws.
When Pacquiao steps back into the ring, it will be his first fight in nearly a year. Pacquiao, who turns 37 in eight days, has been rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery just days after he was defeated by Mayweather on May 2. With Pacquiao coming off an injury and not having fought in such a long time, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach has expressed his hope that Pacquiao might face a less established opponent upon his return.
“I want Danny Garcia, that’s my choice. That’s the easiest fight in the (expletive) world, you can tell his dad [Angel Garcia] that as well,” Roach told Boxing News in August.
But Garcia is set for a bout with Robert Guerrero in January, and Arum has said the next fight will be Pacquiao’s last. That means Pacquiao is looking to face the best opponent that will earn him the most money, not someone who would be considered a pushover.
A bout with Bradley won’t generate huge pay-per-view numbers, but it might be the most profitable option for Pacquiao at this stage of his career.