Manny Pacquiao won his first fight in two years by defeating Brandon Rios on Saturday. The 34-year-old dominated the match in Macau, China, winning by unanimous decision.
Pacquiao proved a lot of doubters wrong, following losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Rios is not considered an elite boxer, but Pac-Man’s convincing win showed that he still has a lot left.
Now, Pacquiao is looking towards 2014 and his next fight. As long as Pacquiao is without an opponent, the questions will remain about Floyd Mayweather. The undefeated boxer is scheduled to fight again in May, but is still looking for an opponent. With Pacquiao and Mayweather both looking for someone to step in the ring with next year, could the two finally be on track to face each other?
After his back-to-back losses in 2012, Pacquiao was not going to get a chance to fight Mayweather in 2013. Now that he’s coming off a victory, though, a matchup between the two may be back on the table. Issues that have prevented the mega-fight in the past, such as drug testing and a split of the purse, no longer appear to be a problem.
"My job is to fight, and I'll fight anybody who will fight me," Pacquiao said after beating Rios. When asked why he and Mayweather might not be able to come to an agreement, he responded, "You'll have to ask him."
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One potential obstacle is the fact that Mayweather has a contract to fight four more times on Showtime. Under Top Rank, Pacquiao boxes on HBO. However, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum says there is a a precedent for such a fight to happen.
“You’ve got to go back in history when Lennox Lewis, who fought for HBO, fought against Mike Tyson who was a Showtime fighter,” Arum said last week. “Both networks participated in the promotion so that’s a road map of how we get this thing done.”
Before Maywether’s bout with Canelo Alvarez in September, it was though that he would get one of his toughest fights in years. Despite all the hype, Mayweather was never challenged. Another easy victory for Mayweather proved that there likely isn’t an active boxer who can offer him much competition. He has defeated the best the boxing world has to offer in recent years, except for Pacquiao, and his unblemished record has yet to be put in any danger.
Mayweather’s camp has stated that a few fighters are on his radar. After Mayweather beat Alvarez, Showtime executive vice president Stephen Espinoza mentioned Danny Garcia and Amir Khan as possible opponents, but a bout with either wouldn’t come close to drawing the money that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would.
A few years ago, a fight between the two superstar boxers would have been more significant. However, even after a few losses, one of which was highly controversial, Pacquiao remains incredibly popular. Following his performance against Rios, it might be hard to find a boxer who can present bigger challenge to the man who sits at the top of the sport.