Who should Pacquiao face next?
By Hector Franco
November 6, 2016
LAS VEGAS - This past Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) made his return to the ring after a brief retirement. He faced Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) for the WBO welterweight championship.
Pacquiao scored a knockdown in the second round with his patented split-entry straight left. Vargas got up from the knockdown and made the fight competitive. He won some rounds landing a clean right hand. After the sixth round, Pacquiao began to takeover as he made the necessary adjustments to avoid Vargas’ right hand and land his punches. Pacquiao dominated all the championship rounds. The victory was awarded to Pacquiao via unanimous decision with scores of 118-109 twice and 114-113. This win makes Pacquiao a 3-time welterweight champion.
Now that the fight with Vargas is over the boxing world waits to see what move Pacquiao makes next. At the fight with Vargas, former 5-division world champion Floyd Mayweather made an appearance. Mayweather hasn’t been seen at a Pacquiao fight since 2006 when he witnessed Pacquiao defeat Erik Morales in their second fight. This appearance further fuels the rumors within the boxing industry that a rematch between Mayweather and Pacquiao is in the making.
For now this is all speculation as there hasn’t been any kind of announcement made from the Mayweather as to a return from retirement. For many fans a second Mayweather-Pacquaio fight is groan inducing. There are many who would rather see Pacquiao continue to face younger welterweights. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum already has an idea of what could be next for the Filipino.
If Arum can put together a fight between Pacquiao and the Thurman-Garcia winner it would be a huge step for the sport of boxing as a whole. It would give the eight-division champion the opportunity to unify a division, a feat he has never accomplished in his illustrious career. Even at 37 years of age Pacquiao holds advantages in hand and foot speed over both Thurman and Garcia.
Over the last week many fighters have called out Pacquiao. IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) has mentioned that he would like to face Pacquiao in the near future. Brook who last fought at middleweight against Gennady Golovkin has until February to make a decision as to if he will return to welterweight. Brook who weighed 176-pounds, 30 days before his fight with Golovkin could have a tough time returning to welterweight. There is also the matter of his mandatory Errol Spence who will either get his shot at the title or take step-aside money.
Leading up to the Vargas fight there were talks of a fight with Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) for Pacquiao. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has said multiple times that he feels his star pupil has a great chance at beating the Mexican star.
With or without a title Pacquiao would be the hottest commodity at welterweight. There are many options available to him. Terence Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is a fighter that fans would love to see Pacquiao face. It could lead to a passing of the torch moment that usually occurs in the sport when heading into a new era. Clearly after two solid performances Pacquiao isn’t done with boxing. What Pacquiao chooses to do next will have fans on edge.
(Featured Photo: Mikey Willaims/Top Rank)