After a nearly two year wait, Manny Pacquiao finally got his revenge on Timothy Bradley in a clean Unanimous Decision victory in Las Vegas this weekend. While the win does not right the wrong of his previous Split Decision defeat, the most notorious robbery of 2012, it at least evens the score.
Yet this fight was only one more installment in what has become a boxing triangle, with the third corner occupied by Juan Manuel Marquez. On the one hand, Pacquiao ostensibly has unfinished business with Marquez, who knocked out the Filipino dynamo in their fourth encounter in December 2012. Furthermore, if Marquez prevails in his bout with Mike Alvarado next month, he becomes the mandatory challenger for Pacman’s WBO belt.
On the other hand, Marquez has unfinished business of his own with this weekend’s loser, Timothy Bradley. The two fought a close battle that went Bradley’s way in a reasonable Split Decision. Dinamita has notorious hard luck when it comes to judging, and he must be itching for a chance to score some revenge of his own against Desert Storm.
So what comes next? Will Marquez get Pacquaio or Bradley? Top Rank has publicly declared their plans to have the Marquez-Alvarado winner face the winner of Pacquiao-Bradley II, so now it’s a question of whether or not they stick to their guns. Yet, in the wake of beating Bradley, Pacquiao came out and said he would fight Marquez for a fifth time if Bob Arum approved, adding uncertainty to the potential fight.
Of course, saying “I’ll fight him if my promoter says it’s OK” is not the same thing as “I’ll fight that guy anytime, anywhere. Just name it!” That is the kind of public relations-crafted statement that shifts the blame for a Marquez vs. Pacquiao V not happening onto Arum, preserving Pacquiao’s mega-warrior status.
Furthermore, what should happen if Marquez doesn’t do so well against Alvarado? What if he draws or loses? That would be all the justification Pacquiao really needs to duck out, because the more I read between the lines, the more I see Pacman not really wanting a fifth go at Marquez. In that case, Marquez will need another marquee opponent, and Bradley will be there waiting.
Yet there is the distinct possibility that hard luck Marquez will be left out in the cold again. Already some buzz is out there for Pacquiao vs. Bradley III, no doubt coming from Bob Arum’s office, since as previously implied, I can’t imagine the Top Rank honcho has much interest in risking Pacquiao in a fifth clash with Marquez.
Even if Marquez wins his fight with Alvarado, Arum may simply deny Marquez by making an offer the reigning King of Mexican Boxing can’t possibly accept and have Pacquiao vacate the WBO strap. That done, we may very well see Pacman vs. Desert Storm: The Rubber Match.