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What next for Manny Pacquiao after emphatic returning Jessie Vargas victory?

Lee Gormley | 6 December 2016

What next for Manny Pacquiao?

Following what was a short-lived retirement of just seven months, Manny Pacquiao showed no signs of ring rustiness as he emphatically overcame Jessie Vargas on his return to clinch the WBO welterweight crown in Las Vegas.

What next for Manny Pacquiao? The Filipino legend took care of Jessie Vargas and will continue to battle on in 2017.

What next for Manny Pacquiao? The Filipino legend took care of Jessie Vargas and will continue to battle on in 2017.

Even at 37 years of age the Filipino fighter proved to be too much for the much younger Vargas, as he downed the American with a well-timed straight left in the second round on his way to a comfortable unanimous decision victory.

The eight-division world champion earned scores of 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109 at the Thomas and Mack Center, the 59th win of his illustrious career, which stretches back to 1995 when beaten foe Vargas was only five years old.

After an impressive return showing, all eyes will be on who ‘Pacman’ faces next, with the legendary 11-time world titlist having no shortage of options. So, with that in mind and considering Floyd Mayweather was present at ringside for his latest success, what next for Manny Pacquiao?

Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather easily outpointed Pacquiao in what was dubbed 'the Fight of the Century' last year. Could they agree to a rematch though?

Mayweather easily outpointed Pacquiao in what was dubbed ‘the Fight of the Century’ last year. Could they agree to a rematch though?

“Not bad” was the response from currently retired Mayweather during the aftermath of Pacquiao’s latest victory over Vargas, with the former pound-for-pound kingpin having witnessed proceedings first-hand from his ringside seat in Nevada.

Mayweather’s acceptance of a personal invitation to the bout was enough to fuel further talk of a potential rematch between the pair in 2017, despite the undefeated American having eased to victory in the initially dubbed ‘Fight of the Century’ last year.

Pacquiao, who has immediately returned to his role as Senator of the Philippines, has been angling for a rematch after citing a shoulder injury for his under-par performance first time out and promised a second contest would be a different story.

“If we fight again I will do everything in my power to win back the trust of the fans,” declared ‘Pacman’. “They would not be disappointed again if it happens. I promise to make sure they love it. That is what we owe them.”

“We have not had any discussions about a second fight but I know I will be boxing again. And if the fans want it, why not?”

‘Money’ Mayweather, who is 11/4 with Coral to taste his first ever defeat in a potential rematch, could be tempted into coming back by the likelihood of another mammoth payday, as their first clash became the highest grossing fight in history.

Terence Crawford

Fellow Top Rank promoted fighter Crawford looks a dangerous opponent for now 37 years old Pacquiao.

Fellow Top Rank promoted fighter Crawford looks a dangerous opponent for now 37 years old Pacquiao.

If not a Mayweather rematch for Pacquiao, then who else? With the pair of boxing legends having previously been away from the scene for a short period, there has been uprisings in their respective divisions.

‘Bud’ Crawford has risen to prominence in the sport of late by becoming the unified light-welterweight champion, having beaten the likes of Ricky Burns and Viktor Postol along his successful path to stardom.

The Nebraska native was previously tipped to face ‘Pacman’ before the latter agreed a Timothy Bradley trilogy bout, though he would enter any potential future match-up with the Filipino legend as the 6/5 outsider for success.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has earlier expressed his interest in making such a contest, while Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach insisted his long-standing fighter can still easily make 140lbs. Watch this space.

Amir Khan

Khan endured a brutal stoppage defeat to Canelo but could he bounce back to face 'Pacman'?

Khan endured a brutal stoppage defeat to Canelo but could he bounce back to face ‘Pacman’?

Britain’s former light-welterweight champion Khan has long been chasing both Mayweather and previous stablemate Pacquiao, and will be returning to the ring next year following a brutal knockout at the hands of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

The Bolton-born fighter used to train alongside ‘Pacman’ under the guidance of esteemed trainer Roach but recently admitted he would put any friendship aside to face the Filipino.

“Manny is a great fighter and one of the best around,” stated Khan, who is seen at 11/8 to overcome Pacquiao.

“It would be an honour to share the ring with him and would be a very entertaining fight for the fans. I know Manny well and he is a friend of mine but sometimes you have to put that to the side as boxers.”

Kell Brook

Brook became Golovkin's latest knockout victim earlier in 2016.

Brook became Golovkin’s latest knockout victim earlier in 2016.

Khan may be calling for a meeting with Pacquiao, but current IBF welterweight title holder and fellow Briton Brook has outlined intentions to finally go toe-to-toe with his long-mooted foe.

The Sheffield fighter told his compatriot to stop talking and agree to such a bout, though could he instead take on Pacquiao next year? He’s evens to prevail if so.

‘Special K’ was viciously halted by middleweight king Gennady Golovkin in September but he still holds the IBF strap at 147lbs and also highlighted a possible unification showdown with newly crowned WBO champion ‘Pacman’.

Vasyl Lomachenko

Lomachenko has rampantly risen to prominence as a professional after an illustrious amateur career.

Lomachenko has rampantly risen to prominence as a professional after an illustrious amateur career.

Promoter Arum recently caused a flurry of chatter among boxing fans when claiming Pacquiao could eventually come up against two-time Olympic Gold medallist and current WBO super-featherweight champion Lomachenko.

With both fighters being under the same promotional roof, Arum believes it could be done at a catchweight around 135lbs. Ukrainian Lomachenko admitted he would be happy to oblige at the outlined weight, though Roach was quick to shut down such claims claiming it would have to take place at light-welterweight.

Though, ‘Hi-Tech’ stated he walks around at 138lbs and moving up to what Roach outlined would be too much for him. “If this fight will be at 135 weight category – I’m ready. At 135 – I’m ready. At 140, no – it’s too big for me. My [walking] weight now is 138.,” he said.

Having dealt with a man 10 years his junior on an impressive return, Pacquiao has proved he still has what it takes to compete at the elite level at 37, despite political commitments in his homeland. With ‘Pacman’ now back on the scene and Mayweather possibly contemplating a comeback too, 2017 could prove to be an interesting year for the sport.

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So what next for Manny Pacquiao? Who do you think he’ll face in 2017? Have your say below in our comments section!

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