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Pacquiao has just one Mayweather Jr. alternative: Marquez

November 28, 2010 |  7:35 am

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Manny Pacquiao's decision making has been impeccable.

Running for congress in the Philippines has given him saint-like stature.

Blowing off the disrespect he received from Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an ill-conceived video bashing the Filipino superstar kept him above the fray.

Conquering Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 after the Tijuana fighter and his camp apparently mocked Pacquiao's Parkinson's-stricken trainer, Freddie Roach, provided an example of staying quiet and carrying a powerful punch.

Something happened Saturday night, however, to paint Pacquiao into an uncomfortable corner.

Juan Manuel Márquez impressively defended his lightweight boxing title in Las Vegas by scoring a ninth-round technical knockout over challenger Michael Katsidis.

What we know is that Pacquiao is scheduled to huddle with promoter Bob Arum and trainer Roach on Dec. 17 in the Philippines to discuss the next opponent.

Late Saturday night, Richard Schaefer, the promoter who has directed all of Mayweather's fights since 2007, indicated Mayweather won't be ready to commit to fighting at least until after a January court hearing.

The unbeaten boxer is facing a felony charge in an incident in which he allegedly hit his ex-girlfriend in front of their children.

"Mayweather is dealing with a legal situation, and it'd be extremely disrespectful to go ahead with the planning of a fight and act as if what's going on in court is irrelevant," Schaefer said. 

So that leaves planning a fight with Marquez, who overcame getting knocked down in the third round Saturday and connected on 327 punches to Katsidis' 194 even though the challenger is seven years younger.

For good measure, Marquez showed up at the post-fight news conference in a T-shirt reading, "Marquez beat Pacquiao twice," and pushing for a trilogy, a third fight to cap their 2004 draw and 2008 split decision won by Pacquiao.

"When Juan lost that [2008] fight, we immediately asked for a rematch, and Bob Arum said it needed time to mature," Marquez promoter Schaefer said. "Well, it's matured." 

There's bickering about the weight. Marquez would prefer it to be 140, but Pacquiao's camp wants a Marquez fight at 147, although Pacquiao has said his best fighting weight is 140. Pacquiao weighed just 144.6 pounds against Margarito in the 150-pound fight, but this is gamesmanship, and in a rare development, Pacquiao appears to be on the wrong side of what's right.

In his quest for Pacquiao-Marquez III, Marquez claimed victory in the 2009 fight of the year over Juan Diaz, and his exciting victory over Katsidis is a strong candidate for this year's fight of the year.

Denying Marquez after the two close fights would put Pacquiao in a prickly spot. Now, settling for someone like Andre Berto or Shane Mosley or Miguel Cotto would invite criticism.

Schaefer's company is locked in a lawsuit with Pacquiao's promoter, but that's gamesmanship, too, and a company official said should Pacquiao and Marquez strike a fight deal, the question would be, "What lawsuit?"

Schaefer said he'd be calling Todd duBoef in Pacquiao's promotional company Monday morning in an attempt to thaw an icy relationship in the interest of "giving the fans the fight they want to see."

Marquez "did everything possible [Saturday] to show he's the most talented guy and show why he'd give Pacquiao so much trouble in a third fight."

Pacquiao can decide not to take the Marquez challenge again. 

But why mess with success?

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Juan Manuel Marquez lands a right to the face of Michael Katsidis during his nine-round victory on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Credit: Mark Ralston / Getty Images

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