Manny Pacquiao: Warm-Up Fight Should Be Next Step for Pac-Man

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IMarch 5, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08:  (L-R) Trainer Freddie Roach talks with Manny Pacquiao between rounds against Juan Manuel Marquez during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao's next opponent hasn't been decided yet, but Pac-Man should get himself back on track with a warm-up fight the next time he steps in the ring.

It's been nearly three months since Pac-Man's face met the canvas after Juan Manuel Marquez threw the punch heard 'round the world, and that happened just six months after Timothy Bradley scored the decision heard 'round the world.

Two straight losses for Pacquiao has never happened before in his career, so there's no telling how he'll respond moving forward.

There may be some doubts deep within Pac-Man about what he has left. If that's the case, it can be a dangerous scenario for any fighter and it immediately puts them behind before a bout even begins. That is not a good mindset to take into a fight with a difficult opponent.

However, instead of just jumping back into the ring against another top opponent like Marquez or Bradley (it hurts me to say that about Bradley), Pacquiao needs to fight a lesser opponent just to break this losing streak he's on.

Doing so would go a long way toward regaining some confidence, especially after the loss to Marquez. A knockout loss like that isn't easy to overcome or forget, but a win in Pac-Man's next bout is the first step to putting it behind him.

Not to mention, it would give Pacquiao some major momentum going into his next fight against whoever. The 34-year-old will be able to once again taste victory and he'll know for certain where he stands as far as ability is concerned based on the result of this warm-up fight.

Before anyone begins to scream about how Pacquiao must fight Marquez next, it appears Marquez himself is weighing his options, per Dan Rafael of

It's likely to be a fifth fight in the fall with Pacquiao, his great rival who still leads their legendary series 2-1-1. But Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who co-promotes Marquez with Zanfer Promotions' Fernando Beltran, said there are other possibilities as well, and that Marquez is going to look at them.

Granted, as Rafael said in his piece, it's likely the fight between Marquez and Pacquiao does happen in the fall, but Marquez could choose to go in a different direction. If that happens, combined with Bradley's upcoming bout with Ruslan Provodnikov, Pacquiao won't have a choice but to fight someone else.

The last thing Pac-Man would want is to wait even longer to get back into the ring than he already has.

Now, that doesn't mean Pacquiao should be doing his best Apollo Creed impression and look for the next Rocky Balboa nobody to get a crack at him, but he just needs to stay away from some of the more dangerous fighters until he gets that next win.

Pacquiao fans may disagree with this move for their favorite fighter because of his age and the lack of time he has left in his career, but if Pac-Man can schedule a fight sometime later in the year, he'll still be able to get back at both Bradley and Marquez in 2014 should those two remain at the top of their respective games.