Manny Pacquiao showed he’s not done yet on Saturday by thoroughly beating the previously-undefeated Timothy Bradley around the ring the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao avenged his completely unjust split decision loss from their first fight and showed that even at 35 he could take on one of the best fighters in the world and completely outclass him.
Now the question is, who will be next for Pacquiao? Fortunately, we won’t be wondering for long, as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has made it fairly obvious who the Filipino superstar will face off with in his next fight.
Arum is pushing his next big fight on the public hard. Long-time Pacquiao nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) will face Colorado tough guy Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) at the Forum in Los Angeles on May 17. The winner of that bout will be the mandatory challenger for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title, and behind the scenes, things have been set up for whoever wins to face Pacquiao, likely in November.
Would fans care about a fifth showdown between Marquez and Pacquiao if the Mexican legend comes away with a win over Alvarado? Early returns suggest the answer is yes. Marquez and Pacquiao have already put on four incredibly entertaining fights (Pacquiao won two, Marquez took one and their first fight was a draw) and Marquez is really the only guy who has been able to solve Pacquiao’s relentless style.
After suffering a brutal knockout loss to Marquez in their fourth fight, Pacquiao is probably eager to prove that the one-punch KO he suffered was just a fluke. I covered that fight and had Pacquiao winning in what was an extremely violent battle before he was stopped in the sixth round. Both men had been down in the fight and Pacquiao looked like he was very close to stopping a badly bloodied Marquez when the Pac-man was caught with a perfect right hand.
In addition to that, on the eve of that December 8, 2012 fight, a dozen or so boxing experts I trust confided in me that it was the worst-kept secret in the sports that Marquez had been on performance-enhancing drugs in the lead-up to the fight. The then 39-year-old Marquez showed up looking like a different person than he had in the rest of his career. He had completely re-shaped his body after hiring controversial strength and conditioning coach Angel Heredia.
Heredia had previously supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery in 2000, and admitted in court to supplying drugs to countless other athletes as part of the BALCO case. He has also always been known in sports circles as a guy you went to for designer steroids that would help avoid positive drug tests. It is fishy that after their first three fights, where Marquez landed plenty of flush shots and failed to floor Pacquiao, he was able to do it twice in their fourth fight, including the knockout.
You can bet that Pacquiao wants the chance to avenge that loss.
Marquez lost his last fight via split decision at the hands of Bradley, who Pacquiao just destroyed.
But if Alvarado manages to beat Marquez, we’ll almost certainly see him face Pacquiao. The 33-year-old is a relentless tough guy much like Pacquiao’s last opponent before the Bradley fight, Brandon Rios. In fact, Alvarado and Rios had two great wars that resulted in each guy coming away with a win.
Alvarado lost to Ruslan Provodnikov in October of 2013, which is nothing to be ashamed of since Provodnikov is a rising star. If Alvarado beats Marquez it will be an upset, and will almost surely secure him the biggest payday of his career against Pacquiao. If he loses, he and Rios could be headed for a third fight.
Either way, we can all rest assured that Pacquiao will face the winner of the Alvarado-Marquez fight.