RING No. 1-rated pound-for-pound fighter Manny Pacquiao will select as his next opponent either WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto, WBA/WBO lightweight titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez, IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltwinner Lamont Peterson or Peterson’s WBO division counterpart Tim Bradley.
The 33-year-old Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts) is coming off of his 15th straight win, November’s disputed majority decision over the 38-year-old Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs), whom he had battled through a draw and a split-decision victory in two prior meetings.
A southpaw whose run includes nine knockouts, Pacquiao also has vanquished the 31-year-old Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs), whom he dethroned by 12th-round stoppage in November of 2009 for his current WBO welterweight belt.
The 28-year-old Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) owns a unanimous decision victory over the 27-year-old Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs), against whom he successfully defended his WBO crown in December of 2009.
Since being dropped in the third round of his loss to Bradley, Peterson is 3-0-1 with two knockouts, and is coming off of last month’s split-decision victory that dethroned Amir Khan for his current titles.
“I’m going to the Philippines on January 8, and I should be there on January 10. I’m going to shortly, thereafter, meet with Manny,” said Arum, who also promotes Bradley and Cotto. “And we’re going to be offering Manny four potential opponents — Cotto, Marquez, Bradley and Peterson.”
After losing to Pacquiao, Cotto rose into the junior middleweight ranks, where his ninth-round knockout — his first of three straight stoppage victories — dethroned Yuri Foreman for his present WBA belt in June of last year.
In March, Cotto scored a 12th-round stoppage of ex-titleholder Ricardo Mayorga. Last month, Cotto gained revenge with a 10th-round knockout of Antonio Margarito, whose 11th-round stoppage win dethroned Cotto as the WBA’s beltholder when Cotto was an unbeaten welterweight in July of 2008.
“Miguel Cotto has improved dramatically since he fought Manny the last time,” said Koncz. “There was a lot of improvement demonstrated when Cotto fought Margarito.”
Bradley signed with Top Rank Promotions with the goal of earning a berth against Pacquiao. Bradley debuted under Arum with an eighth-round knockout of former four-time titleholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Joel Casamayor on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard.
In January, Bradley dethroned Devon Alexander as WBC junior welterweight beltholder to win a clash of unbeatens by 11th-round technical decision, adding that crown to the WBO title that he already owned.
Bradley was originally scheduled to face Khan on July 23. But Bradley opted out, and is now involved in a lawsuit with his co-promoters, Gary Shaw and Ken Thompson of Thompson Boxing Promotions even though Bradley was legally advised that he could sign with Top Rank.
Bradley was stripped of the WBC belt by that organization based on inactivity, a move which opened the door for Erik Morales to become the first Mexican-born fighter to earn a fourth title in as many different divisions with a 10th-round knockout over previously-unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano in September.
“Bradley is a young, aggressive fighter,” said Koncz. “And he’s hungry to make a name for himself.”