On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao showed flashes of his old self as he overwhelmed Jessie Vargas. Pacquiao knocked Vargas down in the second round on a clean, straight left hand. The judges scored the fight 118-109, 118-109 and 114-113, all for Manny Pacquiao. Making The Cut had Pacquiao winning 116-111.
So what’s next for Manny? Of course, most will say a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather Jr. and his daughter sat ringside for the fight. Pacquiao said he invited Mayweather Jr. to the fight. A second fight would mean, Mayweather Jr. would have to take, at least, two warm up fights and I don’t see that happening. If he fights Pacquiao straight out of retirement, there’s no way he wins. This isn’t Leonard-Hagler where the judges gave Leonard all the close rounds, in part, because he performed better than they thought he would. Mayweather Jr. isn’t going to get the benefit of the doubt.
Despite what Pacquiao says about owing the public a rematch, I think he owes the public the best fight out there. He had a chance at Mayweather Jr. and he was thoroughly dominated and then claimed injury. Furthermore, Mayweather Jr. is retired and hasn’t indicated that he’s coming out of retirement so Pacquiao should be target the current top fighters.
On paper, the easiest fight to make would be Terence Crawford. Crawford has an upcoming fight on John Molina Jr. after Pacquiao past him over. The 2014 Fighter of the Year is under the Top Rank umbrella just like Pacquiao. There’s no reason for this fight not to be made.
If this fight can’t be made, fans would love to see Pacquiao take on the winner of the Keith “One Time” Thurman-Danny “Swift” Garcia winner. This fight would be harder to make because it would require Al Haymon and Bob Arum to work together (again). It can happen but it would be much more difficult than making a fight with Crawford.
With that being said, styles makes fights and Thurman and Garcia offer exciting possibilities. Both fighters are high energy fighters and will throw punches that Pacquiao that would make both Mancini-Bramble fights blush. Thurman would be the more difficult fighter for Pacquiao with his movement and boxing IQ. As we saw against Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao seemed to overthink the fight.
Garcia is much more of Pacquiao’s speed. This fight could have the give and take that his fights with Marquez had and Garcia doesn’t have Marquez’ chin and guts. It would definitely be a crowd pleaser. Kell Brook, who is trying to jump into the Pacquaio talk, would provide a similar type of fight as Garcia.
No matter who Pacquiao fights next, it can’t be another Jessie Vargas. That’s not meant to be a shot at Vargas but it needs to be someone at the top of the 140 or 147 food chain. After all the criticism of Mayweather Jr. because the perception was he avoided fighters, Pacquiao and his team can’t afford to do the same.
It’s time to quit talking about a retired fighter especially when the next generation of boxers are there and waiting.