As Manny Pacquiao gets ready to announce his next opponent, let's be a little creative here and pretend that the 8-division world champ and pop culture icon is not the protected personal resource of Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions. Let's pretend that he's a free man, 100% free to mark his own destiny and choose his own path of action.
As it stands now, Pacquiao's next fight will likely be against either Timothy Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez -- two fights that will hardly capture the imagination of the public or allow Manny to explore new territory as a fighter.
Here are five opponents who may never be able to get a shot at Manny (for many different reasons), but it'd make for one heck of a fight if they did meet:
Berto is at the lowest point of his career, coming off last year's unanimous decision loss to Victor Ortiz and then a failed PEDs test that cost him a shot at a rematch. However, Berto's still a main stage welterweight and the type of fighter who could give Pacquiao a tough time.
Pacquiao's winning of a junior middleweight title against Antonio Margarito in 2010 was dubious at best since Margarito wasn't really a ranked junior middleweight and Pacquiao never quite reached the weight limit. If Manny wants to truly test himself at 154 lbs., he could face Kirkland, a fighter who is all war, all the time.
Peterson's failed PED test earlier this year was a major buzzkill for the junior welterweight titlist, but he's still the fighter who beat Amir Khan and drew with Victor Ortiz in two of his last three bouts. Peterson is tough, talented, and as old school as they get. He would push Pacquiao hard and in ways he hasn't been pushed in quite some time.
Judah has earned the reputation as a hardcore underachiever, but he has always put in honest efforts against elite-level opposition. As an athletically gifted southpaw with legitimate power, Judah would be a real challenge to Pacquiao, who hasn't fought a quality, world class fellow southpaw in more than a decade.
Argentina's two-fisted brawler would have a tough time beating a fighter at Pacquiao's level, but Maidana's an honest and earnest warrior who will go to war for as long as he's able. At the very least, Pacquiao would be able to showcase his offensive talents against a willing, defensively-liable foe.
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.
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