On a Sunday morning nearly 3 weeks ago in the Philippines, former eight-division world champion and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao decided to relax after a 4-mile run by watching Keith Thurman Jr. defeat Luis Collazo to successfully defend his WBA welterweight title. ESPN’s post-fight interview in the ring with Thurman almost immediately began with questions about Floyd Mayweather, prompting Pacquiao to end his relaxation.
“Mayweather,” Pacquiao boiled, his face in a ball of disgust. “As much as I hated dealing with all the negotiations and this man, I would love it that much more to fight him again. He has no punch.”
Pacquiao, in an arm sling resulting from torn rotator cuff surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttarche, was still pissed off and feeling some kind of way about Floyd slapping his dummy likeness around at the time, while questioning the legitimacy of his injury.
Speaking in his native language to a media correspondent with the online outlet Bandera, Pacquiao could not hide his disdain for Mayweather. “He actually stood in front of that dummy and slapped him harder than he tried to punch me,” griped Pacquiao, his face twisted in sour grapes. “Just look at the pictures. He would pull away as he throws his punch. I wish the public could’ve heard him lying in the ring to me after the judges gave their opinion. He’s a terrible person.”
By the time I threw what was a six-pack of Dos Equis back in the fridge and sat down to start scribbling about Thurman/Collazo the following Sunday evening, Pac was calling Bob Arum (before he went to bed) prior to his congressional duties on Monday morning to present six names on his own hit list.
Arum wanted a status report on the shoulder and scheduled a follow-up with ElAttarche. But he did this after reading the names of Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, Paulie Malignaggi and Ruslan Provodnikov. It is an interesting list of names from Pacquiao, and a bout with any of these fighters would be very personal for different reasons.
Here’s my take on these potential match-ups and the likelihood of them happening in early 2016.
#6. PAULIE MALIGNAGGI
No other fighter has attacked Pacquiao in a more consistently irritating manner than Malignaggi, as the rather excellent Showtime analyst seems to be a real ball breaker when it comes to anything Pac. In fact, I’m not so sure if Malignaggi’s malignant loathing of Pac isn’t personal for reasons we don’t know about. No one would be surprised to arrive at the Malignaggi residence and find a doormat with Pac’s likeness holding a needle. Never-the-less, because of what Paulie’s capable of by himself at the press events (plus we know Freddie’s good for a soundbite or two) this would be must see TV. Its actually a very good style contrast to boot, and I personally love this fight for Pacquiao.
– Pac vs. Paulie –
This would be a lot like the coming match-up between Floyd Mayweather/Andre Berto in texture: a very stylish and personal action fight that should be fairly one-sided. If Malignaggi somehow found a way to beat Danny Garcia this weekend (he won’t), then this could really make sense. Especially if Al Haymon – Paulie’s best friend – went out of his way to make that happen with his best friend Bob Arum. Terence Crawford, a younger and far more dangerous in-house opponent for Pacquiao, would seem more logical than this fight. But…
Pacquiao would beat the hell out of the very loud and brave Malignaggi, turning the colorful Brooklyn product into 50 shades of black and blue, as white towels full of his crimson red blood come flying into the ring after 10 abusive rounds.
#5. RUSLAN PROVODNIKOV
“Provo” has reportedly grown salty with Pac ever since dropping a questionable decision against Chris Algieri to miss out on the Pacquiao sweepstakes. Despite losing to Algieri, the “Siberian Rocky” felt he should’ve been in there with Pac, and has harbored feelings about preferential treatment not afforded him by Roach. This would be a very easy in-house fight to make, a thriller for the fans, and a career ender for both fighters.
– Pac vs. Provo –
Roach has not made it any secret where his loyalties lie and with whom. Clearly that distinction goes to Pacquiao, as Provodnikov is not allowed to train in the underground Wild Card gym exclusive to “MP” (Miguel Cotto is the lone exception.. Sorta). In all the tapes I’ve seen of sparring between Pac n Provo, Pacquiao would maim his good friend in a way that would finish both of them. He [Pac] timed Provodnikov with deadly accuracy in between absorbing shots. He wouldn’t do that as much in the actual fight, knowing he would have to fully unleash hell on Provo to get him out of there. He would. After taking a shocking amount of shots at point blank range, a very game Provodnikov would be saved from himself and his totally busted/broken face in the 8th round.
#4. MIGUEL COTTO
Cotto, a man of extreme pride, has been resurrected under Freddie Roach and is hoping to leave boxing with a very loud “BANG!” in 2016. With Roach, he feels he’d have what it takes to defeat both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at super welterweight. But that’s where things get tricky. A not-so-friendly competitive rivalry exists among them, and they are no longer allowed to spar with each other at the orders of Roach. Roach, who would train Pacquiao for this contest should Cotto get past Saul Canelo Alvarez (he won’t), knows this is the end game fight ROC Nation head honcho Jay-Z has in mind for Cotto in their 3 fight deal.
– Pac vs. Cotto II-
Their epic November 2009 meeting featured both men in their absolute prime. Despite what’s been written and said about the 145lb catchweight for that bout being a deterrent for Cotto- it wasn’t. He worked his ass off in Tampa to prepare for it and dedicated that fight to his late father. He was ready and he’d be ready for this one too… But so would Pacquiao (who would come in at about 150, 151 lbs). Some styles just automatically make fights, and I can’t see this fight being much different from the original (just a little slower paced). Immediately understanding he’s not in there with a GGG fried Daniel Geale, a gimpy Sergio Martinez, or a guy who just flat out fought like a bitch (Delvin Rodriguez), Cotto would bust up, bleed, eventually back-peddle and lose via late stoppage. Again. But don’t expect this to happen, as Cotto cannot and will not beat Saul Canelo Alvarez in October.
#3. JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
As high as it is on Pacquiao’s wish list, this fight would seem the most improbable for a few reasons. For starters, Marquez would like nothing more than a 4th world title and Pacquiao is beltless as of now. Then, Nacho Beristain is fairly adamant about there not being a Pac/Marquez V., as he not only deems it unnecessary, but he doesn’t think Juan could win. Those two keys alone makes the thought of Bob Arum getting Marquez back in the ring with Pacquiao more difficult to understand than figuring out how in the hell “El Chapo” escaped from a maximum security prison. Here’s a suggestion Bob… Try to do it Mexico at Azteca Stadium. That might work.
-Pac vs. Marquez V –
I agree with the cranky intelligence of Beristain. Juan Manuel, an all-time great and one of the game’s most intellectual counter-punchers ever, fought Pac like a Mexican crime boss staring at the man who stole his kilos in IV, but he’d be hard pressed to do it again. Pac is much more sound defensively since being electrocuted by Marquez, and would put him in his own electric chair of sorts were they to see each other again. What showed up most in Marquez’s thriller over a shot-ta-pieces Mike Alvarado in May 2014, was how much speed he’d lost. A lack of speed and reflexes would make him mincemeat for a payback minded (though diminished) Pac. In fact, I believe my original prediction on IV (which seemed right on target) would apply here, as Pacquiao gets the best of a massive firefight before murdering Marquez in the 9th round.
#2. AMIR KHAN
About a week after the Superbowl and fairly sure he’d had enough of Mayweather’s mind-boggling headgames, Pacquiao made the trek out to London to formally open negotiations with former friend and sparring mate “Con” about a fight. More than likely, this was just gamesmanship to make May 2 happen; but Pac doesn’t like “Con”, the love is gone and he thinks he’s a prick. But if “Con” found a way to stop playing games and faced Kell Brook in a UK showdown, plus actually won (I don’t think he can beat Kell) and in the process collected an IBF welterweight belt… Yea, this fight happens.
– Pac vs. Khan –
After watching John David Jackson send recent victim Chris Algieri straight after “Con”, there’s no way Freddie – armed with past intelligence on Khan – doesn’t send Pac on a seek and destroy mission opposite Amir. Virgil Hunter, and whatever progress he was making, has to be re-evaluated following “Con’s” blame game after being exposed in victory over Algieri. The arrogant Brit has developed a habit of showing insecurities in the ring post getting KTFO by Danny Garcia, as he shoots a lot of “arm punches” and has forgotten how to body punch. Pacquiao would pester and chop down Khan, never forgetting how very badly he froze “Con” on a number of occasions with straight lefts in their storied sparring sessions. This would be real. Expect Pac to find the G-Spot (“Gone”) on “Con’s” chin somewhere in the 10th round before bouncing him like a Steph Curry basketball in the 11th.
#1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER
There’s no way I’m writing about this. No f*cking way.
**** ***** ***** ****** ***** ****** ****** ******
THE REAL 2016 FORECAST.
Pacquiao needs an impressive win in an action fight on his return to the ring (probably in China) and I can only think of two names to put this in motion: Terence Crawford or Ruslan Provodnikov.
Crawford is a young, strong belt holder at 140 – a weight Pac can make – and would provide a world championship opportunity right away. He’d have multiple name options at that point between 140-147lbs. If not the exciting Crawford, “Provo” (providing he pounds Adrien Broner in October- which he should to effectively finish his ass) would give fans the type of bloodlust they crave, while likely getting stopped by Pacquiao via cuts. Because of their obviously high profiles and pedigree, a rematch with Mayweather in late 2016 is very plausible, but if Floyd sticks to his guns and actually retires, Amir Khan (if he fought and beat Kell Brook for the IBF belt) would seem the most viable and lucrative option.
So anyway, that’s the latest on Pacquiao. For the latest in boxing news this week, check out my boy Zo Crooks with Real Combat Media in his “Split Decision” Edition. It covers everything you need know in the illest breakdown on current events in the game.