While I think it’s going a bit too far to say that Manny Pacquiao looked as good as he ever has last Saturday night against Timothy Bradley, it was also clear that he remains one of the most talented pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Nevertheless, we may have seen him in the ring for the very last time.
A month from now, Manny Pacquiao will almost certainly be elected to the Senate in his native Philippines. Following his stellar performance over Bradley, he stated a desire to retire from active competition.
But retirements in boxing have a way of becoming temporary. If Pacquiao does indeed return to the ring, these are some very good potential matchups:
Saul Alvarez Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, has stated that this would be his preferred next opponent for his star pupil. I think that’s a bit of Roach’s hubris speaking for him, though. Pacquiao would still have an edge on speed against the younger fighter, and far better footwork. But he’s simply not big enough for Canelo.
Adrien Broner While I don’t think Broner is close to in Pacquiao’s class as a fighter, he’s got the kind of personality that sells tickets. However, if Pacquiao takes a break of even a year, Broner is very likely to have been rendered irrelevant by the time he returns.
Kell Brook According to the Transnational Boxing Rankings, Pacquiao’s win over Bradley rendered him the rightful lineal champion at welterweight. There’s historical logic in that argument. But if Pacquiao is interested in defending that title, England’s Brook is the rightful No. 1 contender.
Juan Manuel Marquez The last time Pacquiao fought his greatest rival, he ended up knocked out cold in Round 6. But it’s easy to forget, Pacquiao had Marquez in trouble right until the very end. This has been boxing’s top rivalry during this century. A fifth installment would generate interest.
Terence Crawford This would be my preferred choice, if Pacquiao indeed returns. Crawford looks set to become the next great boxing superstar from the United States. Manny Pacquiao would represent exactly the sort of test that could take him to the next level.