The List of Potential Opponents for Manny Pacquiao’s Last Fight

Fightland Blog

By Nick Wong

Photo by Michael Nelson/EPA

We reported earlier in the year that boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao will make one more appearance in the ring on April 9th before retiring to a life of politics in his native homeland of the Philippines. Since then, talks and rumors amongst a number of camps have been circulating around the Internet, but it appears the tally has been simmered down to a final list of four contenders.

One name that’s been circulating as a potential opponent for the Pacman even before announcing his upcoming retirement was Britain’s Amir Khan. The former lightweight champ has compiled quite the resume since winning the silver medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens. The few blemishes on his record came against the highly regarded lightweight champ Danny Garcia, a less highly regarded Lamont Peterson, and the virtual nobody Breidis Prescott. Garcia was also once mentioned as one of Pacquiao’s potential opponents, but that now appears to be impossible, as the Philly native will be taking on Robert Guerrero in January.

But since the loss to Garcia, Khan has strung together an impressive run at welterweight over Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander, and former Pacquiao opponent Chris Algieri. Though his win over Algieri was closely contested, it appears that Khan is still a front-running option. That is at least what Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum told ESPN earlier this year, though according to him, the likelihood of that fight is slim.

“Would I prefer it not to be Khan? Yes, but this is Manny's last fight. I have a duty to him to present him all of the options,” Arum said. “Do I hope he doesn't pick Khan though? Of course [because I don't promote him], but I don't think he will pick Khan. Khan was an option when we considered having this fight in April in the Middle East, so he was a guy on the table. Now the Middle East is not on the table, but he's still one of the guys on the table."

Mentioned in the same article is undefeated WBO lightweight champ Terrance Crawford, who of all the options, would probably present the most difficult challenge for the Filipino superstar. Crawford holds signature wins over Ricky Burns and Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa, but has been criticized for his inability to draw crowds outside of his native Omaha. Despite his lack of name recognition, Crawford is technically sound and in his prime, a perfect scenario for a transition to the next generation of pugilists, and a showdown with Pacquiao is a big-name fight that Crawford certainly deserves.

"With an up-and-coming fighter like myself fighting an old fighter, it's gonna always happen," Crawford said in the same interview. "You're gonna get old and a young fighter comes in and takes your place. It's time."

Though Mike Coppinger of USA Today reported that Crawford has signed up for a title defense in February, only six days earlier, Fighthype’s Ben Thompson wrote Crawford as the front-running candidate to land the fight. It would be strange for the Crawford camp to sign a title defense within a week of being reported as the likely opponent. Furthermore, Crawford is also promoted by Top Rank, which makes any promotional politics non-existent.

The other proposed fighter also contracted under the Top Rank banner is Timothy Bradley, who is probably best known for his controversial win over Pacquiao in 2012. Pacquiao convincingly avenged the loss in April of last year, so a rubber match doesn’t really make all that much sense between the two, but the LA Times reported on December 8th that Bradley was in fact the likely candidate to win the Pacquiao sweepstakes. 

“Tim’s very excited – more about this one than either of the others before,” Bradley’s wife Monica Bradley told the LA Times. “With a new trainer, it’ll be a whole different Tim Bradley. Teddy has done so much for Tim … people might think they’ve seen the best Tim Bradley. They haven’t yet.”

Fight fans might recall that Bradley last appeared under the tutelage of legendary trainer Teddy Atlas when he faced Brandon Rios back in November of this year. It appeared that Atlas’s military-style coaching suited Bradley well, and while facing off against today’s version of Brandon Rios may not have been the best measure of his chances against Pacquiao, there did appear to be some noticeable changes in Bradley’s boxing abilities. Of all the options, however, a third fight with Timothy Bradley is probably the one I personally would want to see least.

Rounding out the group is none other than Cincinnati’s Adrien Broner. Broner is probably best known for his clownish antics outside of the ring, such as flushing money down a toilet and the semi-hilarious footage of being arrested for a DUI. Inside the ring, his most memorable showing (at least for me) was likely the satisfying and comical loss to Marcos Maidana. Since then, Broner has put up a 4-1 showing, dropping a unanimous decision against Shawn Porter, then inexplicably earning a title shot and winning it against Khabib Allakhverdiev in October. When breaking down the resume of Broner, it doesn’t make much sense as to why he’s being mentioned as a possible opponent apart from the argument that like Floyd Mayweather did against Andre Berto, Pacquiao would like to take a soft-touch in his farewell fight. Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz confirmed the news to Steve Kim of BoxingScene.com just last week.

"I wish Adrien [Broner] would not have made the comments he did to the media prematurely. But yes I did personally call him, spoke with him and we discussed the possibility of him facing Manny,” said Koncz.


Who ever think this guy will beat me is a dam fool.... I don't lose to southpaws....#PointBlankPeriod

A photo posted by Adrien Broner (@adrienbroner) on

Broner has also been making noise about the talks on his Instagram, though talks about Broner facing TMT fighter Ashley Theophane have been circulating too. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Broner taking a beating from Pacquiao, despite him being the least challenging opponent of the four fighters proposed.

There are those that believe the fight is merely a measuring stick to see how “100%” Pacquiao fares in the ring as fans might remember reports of the Filipino fighter incurring a shoulder-injury before his mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather. Should things go well on April 9th, there is speculation that a rematch proposal may call the former pound-for-pound king out of retirement, though given how bamboozled the public felt from their first meeting, it may not do as well a second time around. Stay tuned for updates.


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Freddie Roach Says Manny Would Beat Floyd in a Rematch