Pacquiao Planning April Return in Manila? Two Opponents Eyed for Comeback

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COMMENTARY | Promoter, Bob Arum, is already counting his chickens before they're hatched when it comes to a September Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez clash. Some issues need to be resolved before the two hall of famers get back in the ring for the fifth time, but unless the 39-year-old Marquez should decide to retire, all indications are pointing to a green light for the welterweight clash.

Also in the works is a possible April warmup bout for Pacquiao in Manila, The Philippines.

The eight-division world champ and Filipino pop culture icon appears to be keen on a tune-up before attempting to avenge his sixth-round knockout loss to Marquez, but is also dealing with a 90-day mandatory medical suspension handed down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) following his brutal defeat.

The suspension, which began being served from the date of his December 8 knockout, will keep Pacquiao out of the ring and preclude him from sparring until the first week of March. This would essentially keep him from preparing at full capacity for a proposed April 20 ring return.

Taking the show on the road would not only offer the opportunity of a homecoming celebration for Pacquiao, but it would remove him from the jurisdiction of the NSAC and allow him to train for his return bout without having to first complete the imposed suspension. Once again fighting in his native country would be an added bonus, but the real incentive for leaving Las Vegas for just the third time in the last five years and thirteen bouts would be to get around the 90-day forced holiday.

Pacquiao last fought in The Philippines back on July 2, 2006 when he faced Oscar Larios in a super featherweight bout and defeated the Mexican former two-time world champ via one-sided unanimous decision.

Since then, Pacquiao's star has risen to even greater heights and a bout back at home would be the biggest event and hottest ticket, possibly, in the history of Filipino sports.

Ronnie Nathanielsz of The Manila Standard is reporting that the two possible opponents in discussion for the April date are Brandon Rios and Humberto Soto, two former world titlists going, very much, in different directions in terms of career trajectory.

Rios is coming off a Fight of the Year performance against Mike Alvarado in his official junior welterweight debut last October. Soto, on the other hand, won a unanimous decision over unknown Jose Lopez in a November welterweight bout, but was stopped in five rounds by Lucas Matthysse in a junior welterweight contest five months earlier.

The smart money for an April clash with Pacquiao would have to be on Soto, who would be an infinitely easier challenge and, just as importantly, come with a significantly lower asking price for a bout held far way from Las Vegas and the big money associated with a major casino. The former super featherweight and lightweight world champ is also a relatively light-hitting fighter on the downside of a long career and unlikely to do any damage whatsoever to Pacquiao. Rios, even if proven to be overmatched against the Filipino legend, is an aggressive 26-year-old in the prime of his career who would definitely put some leather on Pacquiao and could pose all kinds of risks to a proposed Marquez bout in September.

Before any of this happens, though, Pacquiao is said to be considering an in-depth revision at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas to assuage concerns that his knockout loss produced any lasting neurological damage.

In related news, Pacquiao has stated that he will not pursue legal action against Filipino neurologist Dr. Rustico Jimenez, who created a media buzz last week by publicly declaring that Pacquiao displayed early signs of Parkinson's Disease without actually having examined the fighter.

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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 as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.

Sources:

Ronnie Nathanielsz, Pacquiao eyeing Manila fight in April, Manila Standard Today

Ronnie Nathanielsz, Pacman won't press charges, Manila Standard Today

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