Manny Pacquiao's 32nd birthday is on Dec. 17 and the pound-for-pound king will be picking out his own present -- his next opponent -- at about that time.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and trainer Freddie Roach will be in the Philippines for Pacquiao's birthday party, but aside from the celebration, they will also meet to discuss who Pacquiao will next fight.
Arum said that with Floyd Mayweather Jr. out of the picture due to his legal problems, Pacquiao's next fight will take place April 16, likely at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, against one of three opponents: Shane Mosley, welterweight titlist Andre Berto or lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez, who is 0-1-1 in two sensational fights with Pacquiao that could have gone either way.
Before Arum leaves for the Philippines he said he will get proposals from all three and then discuss them with Pacquiao and let him make a decision, although Arum said the contract weight will be 147 pounds with no room for any discussion.
"I will have all three proposals and I will sit with Manny in the Philippines when I'm there for his birthday and let him decide who he wants to fight," Arum told ESPN.com. "We'll go over everything because each fight has a different set of financial parameters. It's Manny's career, it's his life and he'll decide. Will I make a recommendation? Sure, but all it will be is a recommendation, and Freddie will have some input. I certainly don't act as a dictator."
Arum already has an agreement with Mosley, whom he began talking with just before going to Dallas for Pacquiao's destruction of Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13.
Mosley claims he is free from his Golden Boy promotional contract, although if he takes a fight with Top Rank he would likely have to give up his 5 percent equity stake in Golden Boy.
Arum and Lou DiBella, Berto's promoter, have been in touch regularly this week and DiBella said he was preparing a proposal for the fight.
Marquez is also with Golden Boy, Top Rank's bitter rival, but Golden Boy is willing to step aside and let Top Rank promote the fight in order to get Marquez the opportunity, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. He has been dealing with Top Rank president Todd duBoef on a potential deal.
"I had a very nice conversation with Todd and we subsequently exchanged some e-mails and that's all I'm really going to say," Schaefer said. "We said we would keep the discussions private."
Jones-Soto-Karass rematch in works
Welterweight prospect Mike Jones (23-0, 18 KOs) escaped with a majority decision against Jesus Soto-Karass (24-5-3, 16 KOs) on the Nov. 13 Pacquiao-Margarito undercard in a fight close enough and action-packed enough to warrant a rematch, which is just what is in the works.
Top Rank and HBO have agreed to a price for the fight, which would take place Feb. 19 in Las Vegas on the "Boxing After Dark" card headlined by the bantamweight title fight between Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire. However, nothing has been finalized yet because Donaire and Montiel both have to get through interim bouts.
"The first fight was a tremendous fight and Montiel-Donaire is a great fight, so we want to add the [rematch] to the HBO card and make it a big night," Top Rank's Arum told ESPN.com. "It's not that expensive of a fight and we've agreed on the number. Right now, we need to see if Donaire and Montiel get through their fights."
Donaire moves up to bantamweight to fight former titlist Wladimir Sidorenko on Top Rank's "In Harm's Way" pay-per-view card on Saturday night (9 ET, $44.95) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Montiel, coming off a leg injury suffered in a dirt bike accident, returns on a "Top Rank Live" card Dec. 11 (Fox Deportes) in Torreon, Mexico. Montiel will defend his title against Eduardo Garcia.
Marco Antonio Barrera was supposed to be on that card in Torreon, but has withdrawn. Also on the card, Juan Alberto Rosas makes his first junior bantamweight title defense against former titlist Cristian Mijares.
• Lightweight contender Brandon Rios (26-0-1, 19 KOs) had quite an eventful second half of 2010, upsetting Anthony Peterson on HBO in September in a strong performance and then knocking out Omri Lowther on Nov. 13 on the Pacquiao-Margarito pay-per-view undercard a few days after a video of him mocking Roach's Parkinson's symptoms went viral on the Internet. Between his action style and the reviled video, Rios has gained notoriety. His 2011 debut will come Feb. 26 at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas on Showtime. Rios will challenge for a belt against the winner of the fight between titlist Humberto Soto (53-7-2, 32 KOs) and Urbano Antillon (28-1, 20 KOs), who meet Saturday night on Top Rank's "In Harm's Way" pay-per-view card. "Rios is an extremely entertaining television fighter and whether he's on HBO, Showtime or the Food Network, you're going to tune in," Top Rank's Carl Moretti said.
• Top Rank won an IBF purse bid Tuesday for junior featherweight titlist Steve Molitor's mandatory defense against Takalani Ndlovu. Top Rank's bid of $215,000 bested the only other bid, $154,240 offered by Branco Sports, Ndlovu's promoter. The fight will be Molitor's first since "The Canadian Kid" signed with Top Rank on Nov. 1. Molitor (33-1, 12 KOs) already owns two wins against South Africa's Ndlovu, a knockout and a decision, but is being forced to fight him again or risk being stripped of his belt. The fight does not have a set date, but could land on the undercard of super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute's March fight in Montreal, Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com. Moretti has been talking to Jean Bedard of InterBox, Bute's promoter, and his trainer, Stephan LaRouche, who he has known for years. "We think it makes sense for both camps," Moretti said. "Molitor brings Toronto to Montreal and Montreal can see Molitor. If we can make it work financially, why not?" If Molitor does wind up on the undercard, no word if Showtime would televise it along with Bute, who recently signed with the network.
• Former junior welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi, training in Hollywood, Calif., is getting ready for his welterweight debut, which will take place on the undercard of light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal's defense against Bernard Hopkins in Quebec City on Dec. 18 (Showtime), although Malignaggi's bout isn't slated to be televised in the United States. Malignaggi (27-4, 5 KOs), who is coming of a one-sided 11th-round knockout loss to titleholder Amir Khan, will face Mexico's Michael Lozada (36-6-1, 29 KOs). The fight will be Malignaggi's first since signing with Golden Boy. Also on the card, in his first fight since signing with Golden Boy, will be Brooklyn, N.Y., middleweight prospect Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin (21-0, 15 KOs). Quillin has fought just once since September 2008 because of various injuries. His opponent has not been determined.
• Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin (20-0, 15 KOs) fights journeyman Nicolai Firtha (19-7-1, 8 KOs) of Akron, Ohio, in Germany on Dec. 18 on the undercard of cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck's mandatory defense against Denis Lebedev, Sauerland Event promoter Chris Meyer told ESPN.com. Povetkin, a 2004 Russian Olympic gold medalist, was due to challenge champion Wladimir Klitschko in September, but he gave up the long-overdue mandatory shot and a career-high payday of more than $2 million by pulling out of a fight because trainer Teddy Atlas didn't think he was ready for a fight of that caliber. Also on undercard, cruiserweights Yoan Pablo Hernandez (22-1, 11 KOs) and Ali Ismailov (18-3-1, 13 KOs) meet in a title eliminator.
• Welterweight contender Selcuk Aydin (20-0, 15 KOs) of Turkey was scheduled to fight a stay-busy match on co-promoter Don King's Dec. 17 card in Miami. However, Aydin is the mandatory challenger for titleholder Andre Berto and when the WBC ordered a Jan. 11 purse bid, he was pulled off the card to remain available for the fight, according to co-promoter Ahmet Öner of Arena-Box. It remains to be seen if Berto will take the fight, or if HBO will agree to televise it. Berto is also in the running to land an April 16 fight with Pacquiao. Although Aydin is off the card, junior welterweight Felix Diaz (7-0, 5 KOs) of the Dominican Republic, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, has been added to the card.
• Roy Jones Jr. will be back ringside as an HBO analyst with Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant on the network's Dec. 11 card headlined by the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana junior welterweight title bout. Jones, who used to be a regular for HBO before being fired, has been brought back here and there recently. He will be filling in for regular analyst Emanuel Steward, who will be in Germany training heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko for his fight against Dereck Chisora on the same night.
"There is no magic trick to this. Dec. 18, you are going to see me win this fight. Not just go the distance, but win by stoppage. I get a chance to be the oldest fighter in history to win a title. I get to continue to make history. How many times can an athlete do that? Winning is the most important thing. This is the playoffs. There is no tomorrow. No excuse. I am not going to embarrass myself. A lot of people believe that I can and will win this fight." -- Bernard Hopkins, 45, on his light heavyweight championship fight against Jean Pascal, which Showtime will air from Quebec City