27.11.07 – By Matthew Hurley: In an interview with boxing writer Steve Kim, Bob Arum acknowledged that Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent has been determined. “Manny and I have sat down and he chose who he will fight next. We will have an announcement by the end of the week.” Pacquiao is scheduled to fight on March 15th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas..
In the past several weeks it became apparent that the two opponents who were vying for that coveted slot were World Boxing Council lightweight champion David Diaz and World Boxing Council super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who most fans and media scribes preferred. Indications now are that Pacquiao has decided on Marquez whom he fought to a spirited draw in 2004. Arum, for his part, maintained that both fighters would probably get a shot at Pacquiao because the Filipino has insisted on three dates for 2008 – March 15th and then in the summer, probably July, followed by a year-end fight in September or November.
The issue came down to whether or not Pacquiao would rather fight for a title in yet another weight class against Diaz, a fighter not promoted by Golden Boy Promotions which receives a greater promotional share should Manny face a fighter under the Golden Boy banner which Marquez is. Diaz is represented by Top Rank and 8Count. Yet, according to Arum, that issue was never a concern, although a fight with Don King promoted Juan Diaz, the WBA, WBO and IBF lightweight champion was. Arum and Pacquiao will not negotiate with Juan Diaz until his contract with King expires.
With all the red tape seemingly binding so many hands David Diaz has decided to just sit back and wait and see what transpires. In an interview with boxing writer Dennis Principe the Chicago based champion expressed delight in even being in the running to face Pacquiao in the first place.
“To be honest,” he said, “I’m just treating it like rumors because nothing is concrete so I’m fortunate and happy that at least I’m one of the guys who is going to face Manny Pacquiao. We’re still a possibility. I’m just like anybody else, just waiting to see who he decides to fight. If we do it will be a great fight because our fight will always be at the center of the ring.”
Pacquiao’s advisor Wakee Salud told the Philippine Star earlier this week that, “It’s very possible that it’s Marquez. It looks like Marquez. But the bluffing continues. Golden Boy Promotions is hot on Pacquiao. They want the fight in March, not July.”
The growingly impatient Marquez has been steadfast in his desire to get back in the ring with Pacquiao ever since defeating Marco Antonio Barrera in March of this year. He let his first opportunity at revenge slip through fingers after their first bout when he and manager/trainer Nacho Beristan demanded too much money. The rematch had eluded him and his career reached its nadir when he flew to Indonesia for chump change and lost his title to Chris John on a dubious unanimous decision. After righting his career Marquez signed on with Golden Boy Promotions and is waiting for the go ahead to start training for his rival.
“We’ve accepted their terms,” he told Boxingtalk.com. “Now it’s up to Bob Arum and Manny Pacquiao to decide if they will fight me or keep running.”