Manny Pacquiao picked up his first win in two years last night as he beat Brandon Rios from post to post in their welterweight fight. The dominant performance has led many to claims of Pacquiao's "return" after consecutive losses, including his crushing KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
The standard question after a major fight like last night is "what's next?"
After any fight involving Floyd Mayweather or Pacquiao also comes with the obvious "is it finally going to happen?" In plenty of mainstream locations, you'll hear how it should happen, how it might happen, how now is the time.
The truth is, it's not going to happen. Despite Bob Arum stating that it was a possibility if Pacquiao won, it isn't, nor was it ever.
Scott Christ at Bad Left Hook has some simple reasons why not:
The promoters for Pacquiao (Top Rank) and Mayweather (himself, alongside Golden Boy Promotions) do not work together. At all. Mayweather is signed to Showtime Sports, which is a deal that will stretch four more fights. Showtime does basically all of their business with Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions. HBO does not air fights featuring Golden Boy or Mayweather fighters, or fighters advised by Al Haymon, though Edwin Rodriguez did get a pass on that count recently because Andre Ward needed an opponent. Showtime doesn't work with Top Rank, though they've not stated that they wouldn't. It's just the way it is right now. It's HBO and Top Rank vs Showtime and GBP/Mayweather/Haymon, with fighters promoted by smaller promoters getting in here and there occasionally. The fight should have been made in 2009. It wasn't. Then 2010. It wasn't. Then 2011. It wasn't. Then 2012. It wasn't. This year, it wasn't in such demand, and it wasn't made. The smoke and mirrors angle behind Pacquiao beating Rios is that it makes him a possible Mayweather foe again. Sure, it could. Beating Rios is as useful as beating Andre Berto or Austin Trout, which is what Floyd's last two opponents did prior to facing him. Those are all good wins. But it means nothing in this specific situation, because of the previous two bullet points.
And that's all you really need to know on the matter.
Timothy Bradley is the opponent who makes the most sense for Manny at this point. Bradley's win over Pacquiao was controversial -- to put it mildly. The other hot names for a Manny fight in the current sweepstakes are Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov, both fighters in the Top Rank stable. Bradley beat Provodnikov in a fight of the year contender earlier this year and recently beat Marquez in a solid fight. That makes him to "best" option in terms of competitiveness and the story of Pacquiao trying to get revenge for having been wronged by the judges is easy to sell.
Provodnikov is an option as hardcore fans adore him and the fight very likely would end up looking like last night's bout as he's a face first brawler, likely unable to handle the speed and movement of Pacquiao.
A fifth fight with Marquez would likely entertain, as it always has. But it just felt like the perfect ending to the trilogy from a narrative perspective when Marquez finally got his win and did it with the knockout of the year. But narrative doesn't really matter to anyone but writers and some fans. But Marquez really wants a rematch with Bradley and hasn't made it sound like he really cares for another time in the ring with Manny.
In the earlier referenced Bad Left Hook article, Scott mentioned a possible rematch with Miguel Cotto and that might be the biggest money fight in the bunch, but I don't see it happening.
Whatever comes next, it is a bit more interesting now that Manny is back in the win column.