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It is not yet official but it is very likely that WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will defend his crown against fierce rival Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12, most probably at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marquez is reportedly said to have met with Top Rank president Todd duBoef and signed the contract for the fight.

Now, all it needs for the trilogy to come to fruition is for Pacquiao to ink the documents as well. Mike Koncz, Pacquiao’s chief adviser, will be touching down in the Philippines this weekend to deliver the contract to the Fighting Congressman.

If there is anything to like about the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy, the whole boxing world is guaranteed with nonstop pugilistic action for as long as the fight will last. But that even said, some boxing experts said Pacquiao would be better off if he would take on the young guns, much like what Pacquiao went through when he fought Oscar dela Hoya.

Manny Pacquiao has not fought a younger opponent since Miguel Cotto.

“Pacquiao needs to fight younger guys,” Gary Andrew Poole, contributor to TIME and The Atlantic and author of PacMan: Behind The Scenes With Manny Pacquiao, told this writer in a recent interview.

In his latest correspondence with this writer, Poole also gave his thoughts on the potential third fight between Pacquiao and Marquez as well as his personal pick as the next Pacquiao opponent, provided Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is still not available to fight Pacquiao.

“Given their history, Pacquiao-JMM III could be ok – I wanted it instead of the Mosley fight – but I am more intrigued to see Pacquiao fight the younger guys,” Poole said.

“Assuming Pacquiao beats Marquez (and I think he will), he will probably be looking at taking on some of boxing’s young guns, fighting across the next generation.  But who should he take on?  To me, Victor Ortiz and Timothy Bradley are the obvious choices.  Ortiz, a southpaw, would be my pick for a spring 2012 fight.

“Victor’s bout with Andre Berto was a “Fight of the Year” candidate. He can be an exciting fighter and I think a Pacquiao-Ortiz matchup would be interesting.  Bradley is a logical choice, too, but I find Ortiz to be more dynamic,” Poole explained.

27-year old Tim Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs) holds the WBC and WBO light welterweight titles.

Former pro-boxer and now boxing analyst James “Smitty” Smith also wants Bradley to dance with Pacquiao. Smith pointed out to Bradley’s youth as the one of the boxer’s main attributes against the Filipino boxing icon.

Betting guru and lawyer Richard Dwyer of Las Vegas likes the trilogy but “it would be best at 140, not 144 where Marquez has not fought well. I hope Manny reconsiders and agrees to fight at 140. At 140, the fight is a tossup. At 144, I’d have to go with Manny.”

Dwyer authored the book GamblingAdvisory.com’s Guide on How to Bet on Boxing.

If Pacquiao is to fight a younger fighter, Dwyer would like to see a Pacquiao-Bradley showdown.

“I think the fight would be epic. Both are offensive. Bradley would try to take the fight to Manny, who is at his best when an opponent comes at him,” Dwyer explained his stance to this writer.

“I think their fight would be action packed and similar to Manny’s fights against Erik Morales. I also think the fight would be a tossup, highly competitive. Manny is stronger with a bigger punch. But Bradley is better defensively and has beaten strong southpaws (Kendall Holt) in the past.”

Victor Ortiz (29-2-2. 22 KOs), the reigning WBC welterweight champion, is 24 years old.

Australia’s multi-awarded boxing promoter Peter Maniatis begs to differ. For Maniatis, a former amateur champion and a sportscaster before turning to boxing promotions, Ortiz lacks the skills and the tools to beat Pacquiao. A second fight with WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto is more interesting than Pacquiao entangling with the young Mexican-American.

“Victor Ortiz is just a sparring partner for Manny,” Maniatis told this writer. “Pacquiao-Cotto rematch is the best fight for Manny at this point. But with Cotto fighting at 154, that would be a hard deal to make.”

WBC light middleweight titlist Saul “Cinnamon” Alvarez also issued a challenge to fight Pacquiao.

“It would be a goal of mine to fight Pacquiao,” Alvarez said in an interview. “To be the best, you have to beat the best and it would be a great satisfaction for Mexicans,” Alvarez said in reference to Pacquiao’s annihilation of Mexican ring legends.

“”Cinnamon” seems far from ready to take on Pacquiao,” said Poole. “I have also heard some people whispering about Sergio Martinez, who’s not exactly a “young gun”, but Pacquiao would be giving away too much weight in that fight so I don’t think it should or will happen.”

The truth of the matter is that whoever Pacquiao fights, the world will watch. But two of Pacquiao’s last three fights have already ended in major disappointments. Fans are craving for a fight, not a glorified sparring session. In the end, there is only one fight every boxing fan, casual or hardcore, wants to materialize. And nobody can say it best than Poole himself.

“People love Pacquiao; they would watch the PacMan fight a watermelon but sports fans can’t help but be frustrated that he won’t be fighting Mayweather Jr. anytime soon, if ever. The non-fight of the century, I call it.”


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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.