Who Should Pacquiao Fight Next: Mosley, Marquez or Berto?

December 16, 2010 in Boxing by pacejmiller

Who will Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach take on next?

Pound-for-pound champ Manny Pacquiao has announced that his next fight will be on 7 May 2011.  With Floyd Mayweather Jr most likely looking to fight guys trying to ‘American History X’ his ass in the prison showers (if convicted of abusing his ex-girlfriend and children), Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has narrowed Pacquiao’s next opponent down to three guys: Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Andre Berto.

That’s it.  These three, and no one else.  So don’t think about any other fantasy fights (eg Sergio Martinez) because they’re not going to happen on 7 May.  Arum has presented three term sheets (one for each potential opponent) to Pacquiao and it will ultimately be Pacquiao’s choice.  It’s been reported that an decision will likely be made by Friday US time.

Let’s break down each of these opponents, what they bring to the table, and how likely the fight will eventuate.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

Remember that barring unforeseen circumstances, the fight will take place at the welterweight limit of 147 lbs.

Shane Mosley

Age: 39
Height: 5’9″
Reach: 74″
Record: 46-6-1 (39KOs)

This is the fight that Top Rank’s Bob Arum has been pushing for the most because it presents the lowest risk for the highest financial reward.  Shane Mosley, who is/was a part-owner of Golden Boy (Top Rank’s bitter enemy), said he is about to become a free agent and sever ties with his former promotion company.  This means that Top Rank won’t have to co-promote the bout with Golden Boy and split the profits, allowing Arum to get his greedy little hands on all of the windfall.

However, from a fan’s perspective, Mosley is not a very attractive fight.  Sure, almost two years ago he may have brutally KO’ed Antonio Margarito, a guy that lasted the whole 12 rounds with Pacquiao recently, but Mosley has looked horrible in his last two fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr (in a lopsided unanimous decision loss) and Sergio Mora (an ugly, boring draw).  At 39, most look at Mosley as a potentially dangerous, but likely over-the-hill kind of guy that Pacquiao will have little trouble with.

On the other hand, Mosley’s (formerly) exciting style and humble attitude has made him a fan favourite in the US, which means he may still be able to draw a big crowd and make more money for Arum and Pacquiao.  But let’s face it — this is not a fight that most fans would like to see.

For Pacquiao, it would be nice to get another Hall-of-Fame name under his belt, but beating Mosley at this point doesn’t mean a whole lot — especially since Mayweather has already beaten him convincingly.  For those still debating about who’s better between Mayweather and Pacquiao, one of the strongest arguments for Floyd is that De La Hoya and Hatton were both ‘damaged goods’ after having fought him, which lessen’s Pacquiao’s achievements.  If Pacquiao wants to avoid adding fuel to that argument, he ought to avoid Mosley.

How I see the bout: Given Mosley’s last two outings, I don’t give him much of a chance against Pacquiao.  Mosley may still have power, but Pacquiao’s speed, agility and stamina will give Mosley all sorts of problems, especially late in the fight.  Easy unanimous decision victory for Pacquiao, but there’s also a slim chance that Pacquiao could make Mosley quit and hand him his first KO loss.

Juan Manuel Marquez

Age: 37
Height: 5’7″
Reach: 67″
Record: 52-5-1 (38KOs)

Let’s be honest — a very good case can be made that Marquez (who drew with Pacquiao in 2004 at featherweight and lost to him in 2008 at super featherweight) won both previous bouts with Pacquiao despite being knocked down four times (three in the first fight and once in the second).  And despite having lost to Mayweather in a lopsided fight in 2009, Marquez is still a top pound-for-pound fighter who has a style known to given Pacquiao problems.  Most of all, Marquez has been in form, winning a clear unanimous decision in a rematch against Juan Diaz and knocking out Michael Katsidis in his last two bouts.

Financially speaking, the Marquez fight should make the most money overall because this is the fight that, according to voices on the Internet, fans most want to see.  But the big problem is that Marquez is promoted by Golden Boy, even though they have agreed to be bought out so that Top Rank can promote the fight alone.  Still, to be bought out requires money, and Arum seems to want to leave every last dollar for himself.

“[T]he problem with Marquez,” said Arum, “is the number he wants is so damn high and he hasn’t moved off it, and that’s preventing the Marquez fight.”

Arum said Marquez is asking for double the $3.2 million he earned for the Mayweather fight, but Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer said that is not true, because their proposed amount includes the buy-out figure.  Nevertheless, Schaefer appears to be pushing hard for this fight and has been in regular email contact with Top Rank president Todd du Boef.

“I asked Todd to please get back to me with a deal which would be acceptable for Pacquiao and I will get it done,” Schaefer said.  “Just tell me what Pacquiao is willing to do and let me go to Marquez with the deal.  If Marquez doesn’t want it, or doesn’t like the deal and turns it down, so be it.”

Furthermore, given that 7 May coincides with a Mexican holiday (when there is usually a big fight), Pacquiao-Marquez III could turn into a massive seller.

For Pacquiao, surely there must be a big incentive to fight Marquez again.  Even though he is 1-0-1 against Marquez, he must know that lots of people thought he lost both fights.  There is no better way to shut up his critics and show them how much he has improved by decisively beating Marquez or knocking him out.  That said, could the way Marquez fought Pacquiao the last two times be weighing on his head still?  Perhaps he doesn’t want to take the risk because he knows Marquez has the style to trouble him?  Either way, it would be a very interesting fight.  As Schaefer said, “Marquez is the logical choice”.

How I see the bout: With all due respect to Marquez, I see Pacquiao knocking him out this third time.  Part of this is because the fight will probably be at 147 lbs, a weight Marquez, a natural lightweight, has not shown he can be competitive at (as demonstrated by his loss to Mayweather and how flabby he was around the middle at that weight).  The other part is because Pacquiao is a different animal at the moment.  Pacquiao is very comfortable at this weight, but more importantly, he has improved leaps and bounds, both in offense and defense.  He is no longer the one-dimensional, rushing fighter that Marquez last fought more than 2.5 years ago.  I see a careful Pacquiao busting up a slow Marquez in a one-sided affair.

Andre Berto

Age: 27
Height: 5’8.5″
Reach: 72″
Record: 27-0-0 (21KOs)

The most appealing thing about Berto is that he is a young, undefeated champion that hasn’t already been beaten by Mayweather.  While Berto has a nice-looking zero in the loss column and is the current WBC Welterweight champion, many believe that he has not been seriously tested against a decent opponent and has not earned the right for a big payday against Pacquiao.

Berto almost had a chance to show his mettle at the start of this year against Mosley, but pulled out because of the Haiti earthquake.  Instead, he went on to KO Carlos Quintana (best known for beating Paul Williams) and blew Freddy Hernandez out in the first round to finish off an impressive 2010.

Berto is promoted by Lou DiBella, who is not affiliated with Golden Boy, which is a good sign.  DiBella has also made his push for the fight to happen, saying that Berto presents a much better fight than Shane Mosley.

“It’s young blood,” DiBella said.  “It’s young blood and it’s new blood and it’s somebody with a huge punch, and I think that it would be a helluva fight…Manny Pacquiao wants a challenge and wants to stay at welterweight, well, here is a challenge. Shane Mosley was a great fighter, but what does he prove by fighting Shane Mosley?”

For Pacquiao, Berto is the biggest unknown entity, and potentially quite dangerous.  He is a strong puncher with good hand speed, who uses short hooks, thudding body blows and powerful uppercuts.  However, he hasn’t shown the best defense or footspeed, plus he’s more of a one-punch-at-a-time kind of guy, which is why it is so difficult to see Berto giving Pacquiao any real trouble.

How I see the bout: Whenever a young lion goes up against an older (in this case ageless) warrier, the young lion always has a puncher’s chance.  But that’s about it in my opinion.  Pacquiao has too much speed (hand and feet), too much experience and too much stamina for Berto.  I see Pacquiao peppering Berto with power combinations  all night and turning and moving out of the way before Berto has a chance to strike.  Pacquiao in a shut-out decision win or late round stoppage.

Conclusion

Each of these three guys bring something to the table.  Mosley is an ageing legend that could provide the most financial gain for Top Rank (but not necessarily for Pacquiao) but doesn’t pose much of a threat (or so it would seem).  Marquez provides Pacquiao with a chance at a redemption of sorts in a third fight — to finally lay to rest the debate between the two of them.  Berto provides an undefeated young champion with power in both hands.  All three would provide decent fights.

However, it appears that what fans want to see and what we’ll most likely get is negatively correlated.  It seems that most fans want to see Pacquiao/Marquez III, but Bob Arum’s reluctance is getting in the way of the fight being made, and Pacquiao said it himself not long after the fight with Margarito that he personally wouldn’t want to see that fight if he were a fan (how wrong would he be!).  On the other hand, it appears that fans think the Mosley fight is a dud, but it’s also the fight that Arum is most in favour of — again because of the financial repercussions.  And then you have Berto stuck in the middle.

If Pacquiao wants the most money with the least risk, he’ll go for Mosley.  If he wants glory and legacy he’ll go for Marquez.  And if he wants something new, he’ll try Berto.  I truly think Pacquiao should ask his fans what they want to see rather than be swayed by Arum’s greedy motives.  Hopefully he will come to his senses and give Marquez the shot he deserves.