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Top 5 Opponents for Manny Pacquiao Following Dominant Victory Over Brandon Rios

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Manny Pacquiao easily dismantled Brandon Rios in their HBO pay-per-view showdown from Macau, China, on November 23. Immediately talk shifted to what, and who, will be next for Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs), as he successfully returned to the ring following the longest period of inactivity in his career, stemming from his devastating knockout loss at the hands of arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

There are plenty of big-fight options for Pacquiao right now, and many of them include some familiar names and faces.

1. Rematch and Justice Against Timothy Bradley

A rematch against Timothy Bradley is the most logical move for Team Pacquiao right now. It's a fight they obviously feel they can win, as the whole world saw Pacquiao defeat Bradley with ease in their first match, except the three people actually paid to determine the winner. Another plus is that Bradley isn't a big puncher, so Pacquiao wouldn't have to fear another crushing kayo defeat.

It's a chance to continue building up momentum for Pacquiao, and a chance to avenge that unjust loss. Bradley is also coming off a win over Marquez, so Pacquiao could zing Marquez first by facing Bradley, and then by beating him cleanly.

2. The Final Chapter and Fifth Fight Against Juan Manuel Marquez

It seems inevitable that these two will fight again, for a fifth time, marking the third straight bout which will be billed as the "final" fight in their saga. Pacquiao still has the numerical edge in the rivalry, but Marquez holds the most dramatic, memorable and clear victory, with that brutal one-punch knockout. You have to believe that deep down Pacquiao is itching for a chance to erase that image of him face planting to the canvas, and there's always going to be big money and big interest in this pairing.

3. The Two-Years-Too-Late Showdown Against Floyd Mayweather

Did somebody say big money and big interest? Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will never be what it could have been several years ago, but it would still be a huge event, and one which would bring in not only the boxing public, but the larger sporting world as well.

There's already talk of a fight between the two superstars, and while it's too late, it's better late than never. And what does Pacquiao have to lose? Now, he'd enter this match as the clear underdog, which means a loss doesn't hurt his image and a win would be even more monumental.

4. Sparring Partners Square Off Against Ruslan Provodnikov

Manny Pacquiao has been working with Junior Welterweight titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov in camp for his past several fights, as Provodnikov is also trained by Freddie Roach. This fight is unlikely though for several reasons, despite the fact that it's been mentioned as a possibility.

Pacquiao and Provodnikov have become friends, and Provodnikov would need to find a new trainer. Roach doesn't love the idea, and I'm sure it's not only because he trains both, but because he doesn't want to subject Pacquiao to the potential punishment which Provodnikov doles out. Pacquiao would likely outclass Provodnikov, but you don't leave the ring against him without feeling the effects of his attack.

5. Toe the Top Rank Line And Fight Mike Alvarado

Top Rank loves nothing better than matching one of their fighters against another one of their fighters. And if they're coming off losses? Who cares! Brandon Rios, a Top Rank fighter, came off a loss to Mike Alvarado and landed the biggest fight of his career against Pacquiao. Now, Alvarado, a Top Rank fighter, is coming off a loss to Provodnikov, and ipso facto, is in the perfect spot to land a Pacquiao fight!

Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake on Twitter, @DCJake.

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