By Leighton Ginn
When it was announced that Manny Pacquiao would return to boxing after he was successfully elected into the senate in the Philippines, it was no surprise to fans.
Pacquiao was honest during fight week when he took on Timothy Bradley on April 9 that he wasn’t sure if that would in fact be his final fight, despite what he had said earlier in the promotion.
As far as the American media, no one declared it his final fight, but tempered their stories with, “if this is his final fight.”
And his promoter, Bob Arum, never staged the fight as a Pacquiao finale.
So it was surprising that many Filipinos, posting on Facebook, they were not happy that Pacquiao was returning, making it seem as though he wasn’t treating his office with the seriousness it deserves.
It doesn’t seem to be a fair criticism, as Pacquiao made it clear he may not actually retire.
But if Pacquiao does return, the stakes are high that he needs a marquee matchup.
All due respects to Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas, Pacquiao needs a ‘Oh wow’ match up.
Now let’s rule out a Floyd Mayweather matchup. The damage from that fight is still being felt in the sport, so revisiting it is just bad news.
And Manny shouldn’t fight a familiar opponent. It’s time for new blood.
Two names come to mind immediately: Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman.
They are both part of Premiere Boxing Champions and Al Haymon.
Garcia is long overdue for a pay-per-view matchup. He should have gotten a fight against Mayweather before he retired. Pacquiao wants to face him, and indicated he would drop down to 140 to face Garcia, one of the most accomplished boxers in the sport.
Arum said he’s the front-runner, and he should be.
Thurman is an exciting fighter, but there are questions if he really is elite. As a boxer, he’s a Ferrari, but hasn’t put the pedal to the metal yet. Facing Pacquiao would be the ultimate litmus test for Thurman.
A third person to consider is Terence Crawford, the rising star in the Top Rank stables. First, Crawford will have to get past a difficult fight on July 23 against Viktor Postal.
That would be the easiest fight to make, and if Crawford’s pay-per-view numbers are good, it would make a lot of sense for Top Rank.