After two consecutive Thursdays with members of Team Bradley, the question always comes back to who’s next? Well that question probably won’t be answered until after Nov. 23 when Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios fight each other. Both Timothy Bradley and Joel Diaz talked about which fights interest them. Here’s my take on the possible opponents.
MANNY PACQUIAO: This one just seems like unfinished business for everyone involved. Bradley feels he won the fight despite two injured ankles and would win a rematch even more convincingly. Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach however, don’t sound that interested in avenging the controversial split decision. Makes me wonder if they believe the same thing Bradley does. The one out for Roach and Pacquiao have in refusing the fight is marquee value. But Bradley has come off an exciting victory over Ruslan Provodnikov and a convincing victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, who knocked out Pacquiao last year. It seems like fans are warming up to this rematch. And remember, Bradley fought that bout with two bad feet, and he was never really rocked by Pacquiao or looked like he would get knocked down. If Pacquiao failed to touch up a gimpy Bradley, what makes you think he would have more success against a Bradley on two good feet? Bradley turned down a $6 million offer to fight Pacquiao this Fall. Now Bradley’s team has soften their feelings about fighting in China. But I’m sure they’ll also be looking at $10 million for the rematch, which was the rematch clause in the contract for the first fight.
RUSLAN PROVODNIKOV: Diaz said he felt Top Rank was really pushing for a rematch between Bradley and Provodnikov. The first one is the leading Fight of the Year candidate, and a second one could be really big. Bradley is a slick boxer, and Provodnikov is the rough customer who finds a way to make everyone try to brawl with him. It would be an exciting fight for both of them, but Bradley said the price would have to be right. Translation: This will be an expensive fight to put together. The fans might want this rematch, but how much? It could come down to how many buys they think they can generate on pay-per-view. As a fan, I think Provodnikov and Bradley could become one of the great rivalries. If I was representing Bradley, I would advise him to wait out this fight. The way Provodnikov fights, taking a lot of punishment, means he will put on a lot of mileage on his body. Considering how brutal the first matchup was for both fighters, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bradley demanded somewhere in the $10 million range.
JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ: The Mexican superstar believes he won the fight and claims he was robbed. But the fact is, they fought that fight on Bradley’s terms. Bradley boxed and kept Marquez at a distance. For 12 rounds, Marquez failed to make Bradley fight on his terms. Is there any reason to believe a rematch will be different? Money does talk for a fight like this. This rematch would be a good fall-back plan, but it won’t be a top choice for Bradley. Bradley made $4.1 million for the first fight, while Marquez made $6. The tables have turned, so maybe $6 million would be Bradley’s minimum asking price.
MIGUEL COTTO: This would be a new name for Bradley and an appealing fight. Cotto is one of the better draws in boxing. The one sticking point will be what the weight would be fought at. Bradley is considered a small fighter for the 147-pound class and Cotto is considered big for the 154-pound class. They would have to meet in the middle ground, which Diaz said is 150, if not lower. Cotto turned down a lucrative rematch with Pacquiao because he didn’t want to drop in weight, and walked away from about $6 million and a piece of the potentially lucrative pay-per-view. Instead, Cotto fought Austin Trout for approximately $1 million and lost that fight. Cotto has since fired most of his team and is now training with Freddie Roach, the Hall of Fame trainer who also works with Provodnikov and Pacquiao. Bradley sounded excited for the prospects of fighting Cotto, but Diaz will hammer in the weight issue.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER: This is the impossible dream, at least for 2014. The boxing cold war involves Bradley’s promoter Top Rank and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, which is also partners with Mayweather. Top Rank and Golden Boy famously failed to put together a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that could have generated $60 million purses for each fighter. Bradley isn’t the pay-per-view star that Pacquaio is. But he is undefeated and he could very well be the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the end of the year. It could be an important fight for Mayweather’s legacy. But with Golden Boy and Top Rank, it can’t happened immediately. However, Bradley does have two more fights remaining on his contract with Top Rank. After that, it could be a possibility. It won’t be automatic. Mayweather regularly lowballs his opponents, and Bradley’s career with Top Rank has been lucrative. While Mayweather is a dream fight, Mayweather will still have to show Bradley the money.