Manny Pacquiao is getting closer to finding an opponent for his next fight. After a retirement that lasted just three months, the Filipino senator is eyeing a few of the sport’s best young boxers.
According to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, welterweight champion Jessie Vargas and light welterweight title holders Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol all have a chance to earn a fight against one of the sport’s biggest draws. Pacquiao’s last nine fights have come at 147 pounds, and his next opponent could depend upon the weight class in which he chooses to fight.
Crawford was a contender to face Pacquiao in April, and he could eliminate himself from contention if he can’t take care of business on Saturday. The undefeated 140-pound champion has a unification bout against Viktor Postol, who has also never lost. Postol would put himself in a position for a fight against Pacquiao if he’s able to defeat Crawford, who is a heavy favorite in the upcoming light heavyweight bout.
A fight between Adrien Broner and Pacquiao was Arum’s desired matchup, but Broner’s demand for more money didn’t allow the bout to be made. Broner began a 30-day prison sentence on Tuesday for not showing up at his trial on felony assault and aggravated robbery charges.
Pacquiao bounced back from his loss against Floyd Mayweather with a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley on April 9, but the fight wasn’t exactly one that boxing fans were clamoring to see. The bout generated around 400,000 pay-per-view buys, which Arum described as “terrible.” With Pacquiao set to face Crawford, Postol or Vargas, who are not major draws, his next fight could do similar numbers.
There are a couple of welterweights who Pacquiao could fight that would generate more public interest, but it doesn’t appear as if the 37-year-old will face either one in 2016. Danny Garcia says he turned down the opportunity to face Pacquiao, and Keith Thurman has publicly lobbied for the fight.
Garcia is undefeated with a 32-0 record, and he’s won two straight bouts since joining the 147-pound division. But Arum disputes Garcia’s claims that he was offered $3 or $4 million to face Pacquiao.
“I never talked to Danny Garcia or anybody connected with Danny Garcia,” Arum told USA TODAY Sports last week. “So I don’t know what the (expletive) he’s talking about.”
With Mayweather retired, Thurman is looking to establish himself as the best welterweight in the world. He’s unbeaten at 27-0, coming off a unanimous decision victory over Shawn Porter in June. But despite what Thurman has said on social media or to other news outlets, Arum says the 27-year-old hasn’t made any real attempt to secure a fight with Pacquiao.
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) July 16, 2016
“He's never said it to us, we've never talked to Thurman,” Arum told Fight Hub TV. “You gotta cut through the bulls***.
“If Thurman was truly interested in the fight, if Thurman wanted to do the fight, he would call his manager Al Haymon who I have a good enough relationship with that Haymon will call me.”
Arum told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that Pacquiao will return to the ring on Nov. 5 at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center. Pacquiao hasn’t fought at the arena since 2006 when he defeated Erik Morales.