The likely candidates for Filipino sensation Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao's November return are Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley.
Those are the names being shuffled around in a thin Top Rank deck from 140-154lbs.
Richard Schaefer's departure from Golden Boy Promotions opens some doors. Schaefer's refusal to work with Bob Arum of Top Rank and vice-versa made any cross-promotional bouts unlikely.
Still, the likeliness of Arum and De La Hoya working together isn't too high, and probably won't happen for Pacquiao's next fight.
Nevertheless, interest is at an all-time-high for fights involving Pac-Man and Golden Boy Fighters Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia.
The reason Floyd Mayweather is being marginalized from this list is simple: he isn't tied to Golden Boy Boxing, and operates under his own "Mayweather Promotions" banner.
Mayweather has been co-promoting with Golden Boy on a fight-by-fight basis, but, upon CEO Schaefer's resignation from the business, decided to part ways with Golden Boy.
This leaves Manny Pacquiao still struggling to get the Pay-Per-View mega-fight that he is looking for, and repeatedly evaluating his limited number of options.
These include a trilogy with Timothy Bradley, who his officially 1-1 with, but, actually, 2-0 up against.
The frontrunner is Juan Manuel Marquez. The Mexican counterpuncher who scored the 2012 KO-of-the-year over Pacquiao. This would be their fifth fight. Manny went 2-0-1 against Marquez in a series of controversially scored outings (MMAartMartial.com’s David King scored all three fights in Marquez’ favor) before being knocked out cold in their latest meeting.
These fights aren't as scintillating as they once were, but we want new fights; not redo’s with predictable results! So let's get started.
1. Ruslan Provodnikov
Weight Class: 140lbs (Light Welterweight)
A WBO Light Welterweight Champion with an in-your-face style, Ruslan is a storied Siberian banger. No one can take him lightly. Although these are two former training partners (under the guidance of Freddie Roach at Wild Card Gym), it would be an exciting fight, and both guys have said they are up for it, despite their history.
2. Danny Garcia
Weight Class: 140-147lbs
A unified, lineal Junior Lightweight champion who is considering a move to 147lbs, a division which has been the center of Manny Pacquiao's recent career. Promotional difficulties arise, but the proven champion with a lethal left hook has a chance against Pacquiao.
3. Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto winner
Weight class: 154lbs, catch-weight
Sergio Martinez, at 39, isn't the hottest fighter at the moment, but he's earned his position on the pound-for-pound lists and as the Middleweight champion. If Martinez wins his bout against Cotto, a fight with Manny Pacquiao could sell on PPV seeing Sergio's standout success in recent years. Rumors of a Cotto rematch (they fought in 2009 and Pacquiao scored twelfth-round knockout) have persisted for Pacquiao but that match-up may be less appetizing.
4. Saul Alvarez
Weight Class: 154lbs
Alvarez, a Golden Boy Promotions fighter, drew high Pay-Per-View sales for his last two appearances. At Junior Middleweight, his youth, physicality, combined with his well-rounded assault to the head and body of his opponents has brought him far.
If he wins and sells in his July Showtime PPV bout against Cuban boxer Erislandy Lara, a cross-promotional showdown may be in the books.
Weight Class: 147lbs
5. Jessie Vargas
Weight Class: 140lbs
Jessie Vargas isn't a great opponent for Manny Pacquiao, but he's a 140lb title holder with a tricky boxer-puncher approach that might pose a nice "stay busy" fight for the Filipino, and, in boxing, that's always better than nothing.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.