Manny Pacquiao has to avoid the looming and lucrative proposition to schedule longtime nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez for his next fight.
However, the smart money is on Marquez being his next opponent. As it is now, according to ESPN's Dan Rafael, who reported information passed along by boxing commission executive director Keith Kizer, Manny is scheduled to take the ring on December 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
This is the third scheduled date for Pacquiao's next bout, and through that all, he has not settled on an opponent. His list for viable candidates is shrinking.
As Rafael also pointed out, Miguel Cotto recently booked a December 1 bout versus junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout.
Pacquiao has already easily dispatched of Cotto once in their careers, but after a strong showing against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Cotto's career and popularity are on the rise.
Rafael pointed out that Cotto was one of three names the Pacquiao's camp had been discussing, with the other two being Marquez and Timothy Bradley Jr.
Given the choice between these two fighters, Pacquiao should ensure his next opponent is Bradley. Those two are fresh off a thrilling and controversial fight on June 9. The controversy came when Pacquiao lost his welterweight belt in a judges decision that almost everyone watching the fight felt was bogus.
This is Pacquiao's chance to right that wrong. He could piece together an even more convincing effort and this time actually walk away with the win. It would be a boost to his legacy, and it would be a crowd-pleasing bout, as was the last one.
However, as Edwin Espejo of Rappler.com points out, Pacquiao's lawyer said that Bradley is out of the equation. So that leaves us to revisit the tired rivalry with Marquez.
So all attention turns to Marquez. He and Pacquiao have waged three previous bouts. Pacquiao leads their rivalry, 2-0-1.
They have all been entertaining bouts, and they are certainly not without controversy. Every decision has plenty of people who say the wrong decision was made.
The problem is that there is little for Pacquiao to gain in this bout. Sure, he could secure the one convincing win in this rivalry, but what are the chances of that?
After three bouts, it is pretty clear the counterpunching of Marquez is going to keep him in the ring and battling Manny punch for punch. This leaves Manny with little to gain and nothing to lose.
Should he lose that bout with Marquez, it would be his second straight loss, and he can kiss any bargaining power with a future superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. goodbye. This is a needless risk in this instance.
There are bigger questions for Manny to answer in a fight with Bradley, and he has more to gain since he can essentially erase the stain of the controversial loss.