What is Manny Pacquiao's best option?
By Hector Franco
There hasn’t been a press conference as of yet announcing Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring, but his return seems imminent. For the past month, there have been rumors that a Pacquiao return was being negotiated to come back and face Adrien Broner. This week it was announced that Broner is no longer in the running to face the Filipino. It seems that Broner and Top Rank couldn’t come to an agreement over money. While Pacquiao is still one of the biggest names in the sport of boxing, he is no longer the box office superstar that reigned at the beginning of the decade.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that took place in May 2015 may have broken all box office PPV records, but Pacquiao hasn’t sold well on PPV since December 2012. His fights with Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri sold less than 500,000 PPV buys each. Recently, last April Pacquiao took on Timothy Bradley in a rubber match. The PPV bombed at the box office selling less than half of the first two fights with Bradley. The first two fights with Bradley each sold over 700,000 in PPV buys. It’s been reported that the third fight with Bradley sold less than 300,000 PPV buys and may have lost over 10 million in revenue.
After the win over Bradley this past April, Pacquiao announced his retirement from the sport. His promoter Bob Arum did not promote the PPV as Pacquiao’s last fight for good reason. With a guarantee of 20 million for each fight, it was hard to believe that Pacquiao would stay retired for long.
This past May, Pacquiao won a seat in the senate in the Philippines. This put a strain on the dates that Pacquiao would be available for a comeback. The originally proposed come back date of October 15th has been scrapped for October 29th and November 5th. With Broner now out of the picture, let's take a look at some of the options Pacquiao has for a return this fall.
1. Jessie Vargas
In many ways, this seems like the most likely scenario for a Pacquiao comeback. Vargas has been mentioned as a Pacquiao opponent in the past. The fight would be easy to make as Vargas is signed with Top Rank and currently holds the WBO welterweight title. For a past prime Pacquiao, a Vargas fight makes sense. What could hold this fight back from being made is that at the box office it may not sell more than the Bradley match up.
Only recently after Vargas’ upset win over Sadam Ali has he gained respect from boxing fans and pundits as a legitimate threat to other welterweights. Pacquiao would still be highly favored to defeat Vargas and would have the chance to win another world title against a prime opponent. The excitement level for this bout can be beaten by some other options available to the Pacman.
2. Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol Winner
Terence Crawford is Top Rank’s new superstar. He is the fighter that the company is moving forward with into the future. A Crawford-Pacquiao bout could be a passing of the torch in the sport of boxing. It would be the fight that would pillar the ascension of the new generation in boxing. The two-division champion from Nebraska first has to get past Viktor Postol.
The Crawford-Postol fight will determine the undisputed champion and best fighter at 140-pounds. Freddie Roach currently trains Postol. If Postol were to defeat Crawford, it would seem unlikely that a Pacquiao fight could be made because Roach trains both men. Stranger things have happened in boxing. Postol may be willing to get a new trainer or go back to an old one to make the Pacquiao fight. A Crawford fight would be much more intriguing to the boxing public. Freddie Roach has stated on many occasions that Pacquiao’s best fighting weight is at 140-pounds. Looking at Crawford-Postol from a business standpoint, Crawford would be the much better opponent for a comeback PPV.
3. Danny Garcia
The lawsuit between Al Haymon and Bob Arum recently ended just last month. This opened the door for negotiations between Top Rank fighters and Haymon managed fighters. Danny Garcia has been mentioned numerous times as a possible opponent for Pacquiao.
Garcia certainly brings more eyes to a fight than Terence Crawford or Jessie Vargas due to his exposure on Showtime, ESPN, NBC, and FOX. The Puerto Rican fighter from Philadelphia currently holds the WBC welterweight title. Similar to Crawford he is a two-division champion in his prime. Danny Garcia could be the perfect opponent for Pacquiao to not only test himself but to win back a world title and sell a PPV to the public. Not to mention the press conferences featuring trainers Angel Garcia and Freddie Roach could be entertaining.
Edit: It's been reported by numerous sources that Danny Garcia turned down a 4 million dollar purse to fight Manny Pacquiao.
4. Stay Retired
The truth is Pacquiao doesn’t need to come back to the sport. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer and an All-time great. Nothing that happens from this point forward will change that. Even with Pacquiao showing glimpses of his old fire in the bout with Bradley this past April, those moments weren’t consistent.
Now with Pacquiao being a full-time Senator in the Phillippines, he will only be able to train in his native land. What made Pacquiao so dynamic in the past was his passion and absolute love of the sport he exhibited each time he spent in the ring. With the Pacman being past his prime and with even more obligations and distractions in his way, a comeback could only end up with Pacquiao getting hurt.
Fans don’t need to see another Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Even with the high quality of Pacquiao’s bouts with Juan Manuel Marquez, a fifth bout between the two has likely lost any intrigue it might have had.
Whatever option Pacquiao ends up choosing will have fans tuning in. What can't be denied, however, is that there are just as many fans that would rather see him stay retired than step back in the ring.
(Featured Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)