Dan Rafael: Michael Koncz
January, 3, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Chris Farina/Top RankManny Pacquiao's next opponent on April 12 will likely be Timothy Bradley Jr. or Ruslan Provodnikov.We already know that former eight-division titleholder Manny Pacquiao is scheduled to fight on April 12 and headline an HBO PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. What we don't know is who exactly the Filipino congressman will be swapping punches with.
The next step in that process comes Saturday when Top Rank promoter Bob Arum meets at his Los Angeles home with Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz.
"We are down to business now," Arum told ESPN.com on Friday. "Michael is coming over to my house and there will certainly be progress made on Manny's next fight. Then I need some time to finalize a deal with the opponent. I think we will select the opponent [on Saturday] and then I will go close a deal with that guy."
In the running are welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who owns a massively controversial split-decision win against Pacquiao in June 2012, and newly crowned junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, who used to be one of Pacquiao's sparring partners.
If Provodnikov, who lost a decision to Bradley in the 2013 fight of the year and then stopped Mike Alvarado in October to win a 140-pound title, gets the fight, he will be looking for a new trainer because he and Pacquiao share Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, and it's inconceivable that Roach would go with Provodnikov over Pacquiao.
Arum said there have already been conversations with the Bradley and Provodnikov camps about a potential fight with Pacquiao.
One man who isn't in the running to face the PacMan, according to Arum, is Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's great rival. They have fought four times in memorable battles, including Marquez's lone victory, a resounding knockout in their last fight in December 2012. While Pacquiao is interested in a fifth fight, Marquez is not.
"Marquez has put himself out of the running because he doesn't want the fight," Arum said. "He hasn't priced himself out of the fight, he's just not interested at any price. What he's saying for him, it makes a lot of sense. He's like, 'How can I do any better against Pacquiao than knocking him out?'"
Arum said Marquez plans to fight again and would like a rematch with Bradley, who outpointed him in October. But with Bradley very likely to get another fight with Pacquiao, Marquez would have to find another dance partner.
"Marquez is gonna fight but that's my partner Fernando Beltran's job, to pin him down on what he wants to do. But Marquez will probably fight late in the spring," Arum said. "The guy he wants to fight is Bradley again, but Bradley would rather fight Manny."
Arum said Koncz was with Pacquiao in the Philippines over the holidays and returned to the United States after New Year's in order to meet with Arum on Saturday.
Pacquiao rebounded from the knockout to Marquez by rolling to a virtual shutout decision against Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau, China.