MANILA, Philippines – HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant is hoping that Filipino fight king Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will choose to take on a new challenge for his next match, instead of agreeing to a rematch with previous opponents.
Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum was in the Philippines to discuss potential fights with Pacquiao, and the decision regarding the boxer’s next fight, scheduled for November 10, will reportedly be announced later this week.
"I would hope there would be somebody who's new to challenge," Merchant said in an interview with Examiner's Chris Robinson.
Pacquiao’s options include a rematch with unbeaten American Timothy Bradley, a rematch with Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, and a fourth bout with Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
But Merchant hopes Pacquiao instead asks for a new challenger, which he believes will boost the Filipino’s career.
"I think what Pacquiao needs is somebody who wants to fight him, to show whether he still has it," said the analyst. "A guy who can close the show, a guy who can give us action and drama."
"The guys he has fought recently just wanted to box him, and that's understandable. But in terms of his career and in terms of his credibility, I think he needs to fight somebody who is going to fight him," Merchant added.
The fight that Merchant does not want to see is a rematch with Bradley, even though the American boxer defeated Pacquiao via split decision when they fought last June. It was a highly questionable decision that was roundly criticized by boxing media and fans alike.
"I would say the one that interests me the least right now is Bradley... I don't think it's a good idea to have a rematch of that fight in terms of the conspiracy theories of what went on during or after the first fight," Merchant said.
Another option for Pacquiao is a mega-fight with American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Arum has hinted that the much-awaited fight may finally happen in April.