Manny Pacquiao, who reclaimed the WBO Welterweight championship with a 12-round unanimous decision win over Timothy Bradley two weeks ago, did not rule out the possibility of returning to the light welterweight class, a move that would open the opportunity for other elite fighters in the weight category to take on the former pound-for-pound king.
Reuters - Joe Camporeale-USA T
Apr 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Manny Pacquiao celebrates his victory over Timothy Bradley (not pictured) after their WBO World Welterweight Title bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Pacquiao won via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
In what could be an intriguing move by Pacquiao's camp, the already loaded light welterweight division could get even more interesting with the potential return of a former champion. Pacquiao reigned in the jr. welterweight division after dropping former kingpin Ricky Hatton in the second round of their showdown in 2009.
However, Pacquiao hasn't been the dominant fighter he once was. Over his last eight bouts, the Pacman failed to score a knockout victory, as he settled with unanimous or split decision wins. His last KO win came at the expense of former welterweight champion Miguel Cotto five years ago. After that, everything became dull by Pacquiao standards.
The Return of the King
Though he only fought once at 140 pound, Pacquiao proved he was an unstoppable force at that weight category following his sensational win over Hatton, who was then hailed the best jr. welterweight fighter in the world.
Hatton, despite coming off a 10th round TKO loss against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their welterweight showdown, was still viewed as a stronger fighter over Pacman in his natural weight class. However, Pacman crushed all of that perception with a whirlwind of a performance capped by a tremendous one-punch KO in the second round.
Several analysts also believed Pacquiao's decision to come down in weight in his next fights could change the current landscape, because his presence would pose a challenge to other fighters such as Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Ruslan Provodnikov and Adrien Broner.
"I can still make 135-pound. I was a lightweight but jumped to 147 to fight Dela Hoya. Jr. Welterweight might be the perfect weight class for me," Pacquiao said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
If Pacquiao decides to go down at 140 in his next fight, a potential clash with Garcia should be in the offing. Garcia, regarded by many as the best fighter in the division, would surely provide a stiff challenge to Pacquiao because of his youth.
Garcia's current contract with Golden Boy Promotions could be a stumbling block along the way, but Dela Hoya expressed his optimism he and Top-Rank president Bob Arum will end their disputes as soon as possible.
Other viable options for Pacman are slugfest against brawlers such as Matthysse or Provodnikov, while a bout with Broner could allow fans to have a closer look at his performance against a guy who claimed to be the second coming of Mayweather Jr