- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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The date of Manny Pacquiao's next fight moved for a third time on Tuesday, but the Filipino superstar still plans to fight before the end of the year -- even though the identity of his next opponent has not been determined.
Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, formally requested that the Nevada State Athletic Commission reserve Dec. 8 for Pacquiao to fight an opponent to be determined at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, commission executive director Keith Kizer told ESPN.com.
Pacquiao's fight will headline an HBO PPV event.
"As is the customary procedure for working with the NSAC, we requested the date from them," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. "The potential matchups are all being discussed with Manny and his team, and we anticipate the process to be completed in a timely fashion for all involved."
Pacquiao, the only fighter in boxing history to win world titles in eight weight divisions, is coming off an extraordinarily controversial split decision defeat to Timothy Bradley Jr. at the MGM Grand on June 9 in which he lost his welterweight belt.
Originally, Pacquiao's return was supposed to come on Nov. 10. But with time running short to mount a promotional tour -- which would have had to take place this week at the latest -- combined with issues surrounding Pacquiao's upcoming campaign for re-election to congress in the Philippines and the fact that no deal had been finalized with an opponent -- Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz requested that Top Rank chief Bob Arum move the fight to Dec. 1.
However, when Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs), one of boxing's biggest stars, finalized a deal Friday to challenge junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout on that date, it left Dec. 1 unavailable and Arum and Pacquiao targeted Dec. 8.
One of the three names Pacquiao and Arum were discussing was a rematch with Cotto, whom Pacquiao knocked out in an exciting 2009 welterweight title fight. The sides negotiated but could not come to an agreement, particularly on the maximum weight for the fight, according to Cotto attorney Gabriel Penagaricano.
That leaves two other names as the possible opponents for Pacquiao: Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) in a rematch or a fourth fight with Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) against whom Pacquiao is 2-0-1 in three controversial decisions, including a majority decision win in November.
Koncz said he, Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) and Arum are still talking about the opponents and a deal but that Pacquiao intended to fight Dec. 8.
"I've got nothing right now. Maybe we'll have something (Wednesday). Hopefully, by the end of the week," Koncz told ESPN.com.