No matter what we've been hearing in the media recently, the smart money is still on Manny Pacquiao taking on Timothy Bradley in a rematch of his controversial June 9th split decision loss.
Talk has been heard about a possible choice to explore a fourth contest with Juan Manuel Marquez or a second date with Miguel Cotto, but a Bradley clash has been the obvious selection ever since the widely-panned decision was announced at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Unless there are some business issues holding up the rematch or, possibly, some hidden health issues stemming from the injuries Bradley sustained to his feet in the bout, Pacquiao-Bradley is clearly the most logical course of action for Top Rank Promotions.
Master of misdirection and old school fight peddling, Top Rank founder, Bob Arum, has been the source of many of the rumors involving Pacquiao against everyone except Bradley and that could very well be a way of back-door selling the rematch while keeping a guy like Marquez in the public eye for future considerations.
Still, Bradley appears to be looking to make sure that he's next on the hit list.
Twice this week, the former junior welterweight world champ and current WBO welterweight titlist has made derogatory statements aimed at Pacquiao, characterizing the Filipino icon as "scared" and suddenly disinterested in a return bout.
Most recently, Bradley brought long-time Pacquiao rival and dedicated antagonist, Floyd Mayweather Jr. into attempts to goad Pacquiao.
"Once Floyd flattens Manny Pacquiao, which is going to happen if they ever fight, then me and Floyd can get it on," Bradley told Lem Satterfield of Ring TV. "I mean, that's easy work for Floyd."
Of course, this could all be part of the sales pitch for the already-signed Bradley-Pacquiao rematch and the American fighter could just be doing his part to stoke the fires. The tough talk is not in line with his usual demeanor, but sometimes fighters do what they feel they must to ensure a major payday is forthcoming.
But sales job notwithstanding, Bradley-Pacquiao II is going to happen. There's a rematch clause that must be respected and, as time draws near, there will be a demand from fans for Pacquiao to avenge his controversial loss.
The nastiness from Bradley is not necessary. It's surely appreciated from Top Rank, though, as they try to find any way they can to sell the one-sided Pacquiao win with the controversial decision as a meaningful rematch.
So, keep expecting public goading, mentions of Mayweather, and possible feigned Pacquiao outrage as the fight date approaches. It's part of the sales job needed to sell what should've been a solid Pacquiao win as a real rivalry and, even, a potential trilogy.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Lem Satterfield, Q&A Bradley: 'Mayweather flattens Paquiao', Ring TV