Any doubts that Manny Pacquiao still has something left were put to rest as he dominated WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse, scoring a seventh-round knockout of Matthysse at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So where does Pacquiao go from here and who are the possible opponents?
An intriguing choice would be a rematch with Horn, perhaps in the Philippines. It is not uncommon for a reigning champion to defend his title on his opponent's homeland, but seeing as Pacquiao has not fought in front of his countrymen since 2006 against Oscar Larrios three divisions ago, it would be great for Pacquiao put on a show in the Philippines against Horn.
Horn lost his belt to American Terrence Crawford via ninth-round TKO. Pacquiao wants the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt he lost to Horn in July, 2017. For that to happen, he'll have to go up against Crawford, 30 (33-0-0 with 24 Kos).
Crawford, who has never fought outside of the United States, will likely enforce his territorial conditions if Bob Arum and Top Rank try to book this bout. The fight could be done in the usual venues — Las Vegas, Texas, or New York — but the Pacquiao camp might not want to face a rising star who had just jumped to the welterweight division unless there is added finacial incentive like Pay Per View shares.
Crawford is 5-foot-8 and has a slight reach edge over Pacquiao. Physically this could be an ideal pairing. Crawford is now considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and he has plenty of enticing opponents to consider.
ERROL SPENCE, JR.
Crawford might want to take on Errol Spence, Jr. who picked up the International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title by knocking out Carlos Ocampo of Mexico. Ocampo was undefeated entering that June bout.
Spence (24-0-0 with 21 wins by way of knockout) may just be the type of champion who will go anywhere to get a chance to level up in terms of popularity. Maybe a fight against Pacquiao at the Philippine Arena would do that.
Danny Garcia and Pacquiao at one point in 2017 seemed to be on a collision course. Pacquiao had outlasted Jesse Vargas in late 2016 and Garcia destroyed Samuel Vargas just a week later in his first defense of the WBC welterweight crown. However, the 30-year-old Philadelphia native opted to face "One Time" Keith Thurman and lost.
But now that Pacquiao has a belt to defend, this could still be an intriguing matchup.
Thurman would present an intriguing matchup not only because he is Pacquiao's height, has the same reach, and the same skillset. Thurman though is nine years younger than Pacquiao, who turns 40 on December 17.
Thurman has allowed four of his last six fights to go the distance. It might be an indication Thurman is evolving to be more than just a power puncher. A Thurman-Pacquiao fight has the potential to be a slugfest that goes the distance.
Though not impossible to envision, bouts with Spence, Garcia, or Thurman would be difficult to make because of promotions and network situations.