LAS VEGAS – In the wake of yet another Manny Pacquiao victory, two great names frequently linked to him became part of the discussion again as talks shifted to the next possible foe of the former world pound-for-pound king.
Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez and rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. are once more being mentioned in the same breath as Pacquiao following the Filipino’s stirring win over Timothy Bradley on Saturday night (Sunday Manila time) to win the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 147-lbs title belt.
Either way, the Pacquiao camp is ready whoever will be man enough to face him inside the ring.
“I’m ready for that,” said Pacquiao when asked if he’ll consider fighting the 40-year-old Marquez for a fifth time. He lost to the Mexican great the last time after being knocked out cold in a stunning sixth round defeat.
Even Filipino fight fans are split on who the Pacman should deal with first - a revenge mission against Marquez or a fight against Mayweather that is expected to become the biggest in the history of the fight game?
“Buong Pilipinas, gustong makabawi kay Marquez,” said Reynalde Reynales, an avid fan who can't wait to see a fifth Pacquiao-Marquez match. “I think it will be a super match. The title of the match should be Best of the Best."
“It’s the more attractive fight because the three of them (Pacquiao, Marquez, Bradley) are locked in a triangle,” said CPA auditor Marco Barredo. “Bradley defeated Marquez defeated Pacquiao. Tapos hindi pa tumatakbo si Marquez.”
Fans, however, are also excited to see a fight against Mayweather, which has long been anticipated by fans since negotiations between the two camps broke down some years back.
“Mayweather. Matagal na kasi na puro hamon-hamon lang,” said Lilia, a teacher who was able to catch the fight on radio.
Problem is, fans do not see Mayweather answering Pacquiao's call anytime soon.
“Okay sana si Mayweather pero takot kay Manny eh. Kaya okay na rin kung si Marquez uli,” said Bert Lapid, a tricycle driver.
On the fight, Pacquiao didn’t win via knockout but a few Filipino fans remained satisfied with how the boxing superstar methodically defeated Bradley.
Reynales said Pacquiao fought smart. “Tinipid niya ‘yung energy and stamina niya hanggang dulo. Wala sa mindset niya ‘yung go for the kill. Kumbaga, kung may opportunity for knockout, why not?” he said.
Others also chided Bradley for "not fighting to win" against Pacquiao.
“Ayaw naman lumaban ni Bradley. Nagpapalusot lang siguro,” said Lapid, when informed that Bradley had suffered a calf injury in Round One.
“Bradley played safe and let the challenger really beat the champ,” said professor Jay Chio. “But he overdid it and showboated. Okay pa si Bradley pero na-sobrahan sa yabang. Medyo nabawasan na ‘yung power ni Pacquiao. But still vintage Manny. Speed, footwork, defense, present.”
Basketball coach Edster Sy believed that Bradley had a chance to win based on his performance in the early rounds, but Pacquiao’s power was just too much.
“Mabilis ‘yung Bradley first to fourth round,” Sy said. “Pero fifth onwards, dumedepensa nalang. Mukhang ininda ‘yung lakas ng suntok ni Manny. Nandoon pa rin ang lakas ni Pacquiao, sayang lang hindi napatulog.”