Exactly who will get the next shot at WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao?
That announcment could be made any day, or even any minute.
The choices for Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts) are comprised of WBC welterweight titlewinnenr Floyd Mayweather Jr., WBA junior middleweight beltholders Miguel Cotto, RING lightweight beltholder Juan Manuel Marquez, WBO junior welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley and IBF/WBA junior welterweight titlewinner Lamont Peterson.
But if you were to ask Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, there is only one logical selection.
“I think that we need some new blood in there, and Bradley poses a little bit of a problem,” said Roach, from his Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood, Calif., on Monday. “So I would rather go with Tim Bradley than a Miguel Cotto or somebody else.”
Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) has targeted May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for his next bout, but Pacquiao’s handlers have all but dismissed that date for Mayweather-Pacquiao, citing their camp’s desire to have built a 40,000-seat, temporary outdoor venue on the Las Vegas strip in late May or early-June to maximize revenue.
“I have’t talked to anyone yet, but I think that [Top Rank CEO] Bob Arum’s choices, to me, are Cotto or Bradley,” said Roach. “I don’t think that Mayweather is going to happen until November. I think that’s going to be the best date for that fight.”
Still, Mayweather conducted an exclusive interview recently on FightHype.com during which he declared his desire to face no one but Pacquiao.
Mayweather has also attacked Pacquiao from his Twitter account, telling him to “step up punk.”
“Floyd calling us out is one thing, but there’s a lot of negotiation that goes along with him calling us out. But I think that his move is a positive step,” said Roach.
“So I think that the fight will happen now. It’s just that it’s the sooner the better for me. I haven’t talked to Bob or Manny yet, but I’m waiting for a call right now actually.”
Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) signed with Top Rank Promotions specifically with a shot at Pacquiao in mind. His debut with Arum’s company was an eighth-round knockout of former four-time titleholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Joel Casamayor.
A year ago in January, Bradley dethroned Devon Alexander as WBC junior welterweight beltholder, adding that crown to the WBO title that he already owned.
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.
Cotto, 31, is coming off last month’s 10th-round stoppage of ex-beltholder Antonio Margarito at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which avenged his 11th-round knockout loss in July of 2008.
The stoppage was the third straight for Cotto since being dethroned by Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder via 12th-round knockout in November of 2009. Cotto beat Yuri Foreman by ninth-round stoppage in his junior middleweight debut in June of 2010, and vanquished ex-beltholder Ricard Mayorga via 12th-round knockout in March.
“I’d rather go with Bradley, because the Cotto thing is probably going to end the same way, I think. I think that Cotto’s doing very well in his career,” said Roach.
“But I just think that if he fights Manny Pacquiao, the same thing is going to happen as the last time. At least with Tim Bradley, he has two pretty good punches and a really good headbutt. [Laughs,] so that’s something different to be concerned about.”
Photo by David Martin Warr, Don King Productions
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com