For the first time in his career, Manny Pacquiao has lost two straight fights.
First, the boxer suffered a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley for the WBO Welterweight title. Less than a month ago, he was knocked out in the sixth round of his fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
With the start of a new year, Pacquiao is looking for his first victory since 2011. Who will he face in his next, and perhaps final, fight?
Unfortunately for boxing fans, it likely won’t be Floyd Mayweather Jr. The chances of the two most prominent boxers of their generation meeting remains very slim. Other than the fact they can’t agree on terms for a fight, Pacquiao’s recent knockout has made the potential matchup less of a must-see event.
CEO of Top Rank promotions Bob Arum says not only is a bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao not likely to happen soon, but there’s a good chance it won’t happen ever.
"Probably not,” said Arum in response to whether or not the fight will happen before Pacquiao retires. “But life goes on.”
Since a fight with Mayweather seems like a longshot at best, another rematch with Marquez is the most likely scenario. In a recent interview with TMZ, Arum indicated that Pacquiao-Marquez 5 is on the horizon.
"We're gonna, I think, do another fight with Juan Manuel Marquez," said Arum. "That was a great fight.”
A fifth bout between the two would probably draw a lot of interest. All of the previous four fights were competitive, with Pacquiao having the advantage 2-1-1.
Even though the 1.15 million Pay-Per-View buys for the December fight was considered somewhat underwhelming, Top Rank President Todd DuBoef says the fight would sell itself.
"There's nothing to sell again. It's bigger by a multiple factor," DuBoef told USA TODAY. "I've had people from all over the world say, 'I've got to see it again.' "The rematch will likely happen in April.
The bout has yet to be officially agreed upon, however, and Pacquiao has another option if Arum does not make an offer to his liking. Brandon Rios has an outside shot of being Pacquiao’s first opponent of 2013.
Rios has yet to lose in his career, going 31-0-1 with 23 knockouts. A victory for Pacquiao in December would likely have meant a fight with Rios.
"If Pacquiao wins, then I think that it's a doable fight," said Cameron Dunkin, Rios’ manager, before Pacquiao-Marquez 4. "They have said April 20."
The Marquez win, though, will likely mean a rematch between him and Pacquiao in a few months. To many fight fans, it should be another tight and exciting battle.