For several days we've heard that Top Rank put a $5 million offer on the table for Juan Manuel Marquez to fight Manny Pacquiao for a third time. Knowing that Marquez has talked for some time about how badly he wants the bout it seemed a foregone conclusion that the trilogy would go down in September. But yesterday Bob Arum told the press that Marquez was not happy with the offer and that they would be submitting him a revised offer on Monday.
So who would be next for Pacquiao if it isn't Marquez? Arum says that the next choices would be Timothy Bradley or Zab Judah, both junior welterweights.
I don't know that they could possibly have mentioned two more different options.
Though Judah (41-6, 28 KO) has ran off five straight wins he is still only in the bottom half of the top ten at 140 pounds. What he does provide is a guy with a recognizable name whose history shows that he would be more than willing to be outspoken and play the "bad guy" in the build up to a big fight.
Bradley (27-0, 11 KO) is undefeated in his career and the #1 ranked fighter at 140. But he also is a guy who is a virtual unknown to the public at large. His fight with Devon Alexander, a legitimate and relevant battle drew a crowd to Pontiac, Michigan that could only be described as embarrassing. To be fair, putting on a fight in the Silverdome was a stupid move to begin with but he still isn't exactly a huge draw anywhere else.
Pacquiao would be the one doing the heavy lifting as far as public attention no matter who he fights, but having a solid supporting player is the difference between 700,000 PPV buys and 1.2 million. And after the Mosley fight it's possible that there will be a segment of the audience that isn't going to be in a rush to drop another $50 unless there is some greater motivation, like Judah's trash talk or Manny's history with Marquez.
More than anything else, Pacquiao needs a fight that is going to deliver on the hype. While no fault of his own, the last three opponents have just not been able to force Manny into a compelling fight. Manny's curse is the curse of the dominant, and he needs the right opponent to make the fight he needs.