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4 candidates for Pacquiao’s next foe

MANILA, Philippines - Who will be Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent is still undetermined as four fighters are in contention with the Filipino boxing icon expected to make the ultimate decision within a few days. That’s the latest from Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz who spoke to The STAR from his Los Angeles office yesterday.

Koncz said his job is to negotiate the best compensation for Pacquiao. “My loyalty is to Manny, nobody else,” he said. “I’ll lay down the options then Manny makes the final decision on whom to fight. It’s Manny’s call. Not even Bob (Arum) pushes Manny to decide one way or the other.”

Two of the four candidates are WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and WBO lightwelterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov. Koncz declined to disclose the two other options. “We’re not leaning towards anyone,” he said. “But even if we are, we wouldn’t admit it. Anytime a fighter thinks he’s a top choice, his price goes up.”

Asked if Floyd Mayweather is one of the four candidates, Koncz said no comment. “I can’t speak for Floyd or (Leonard) Ellerbe,” continued Koncz. “It’s useless to talk about the candidates openly. Right now, Bob has reserved April 12 for Manny’s next fight in Las Vegas but nothing is confirmed. We still don’t have an opponent.”

Koncz said Pacquiao has no immediate plans of traveling to the US. “Once we get Manny’s next fight confirmed, then we’ll make plans to travel,” he said. “Manny’s got a lot on his plate back home. I just spoke with him over the phone. I’ve been gone just a few days and he’s already asking when I’m coming back. I was on a plane to the US on Christmas Day and on another plane on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, trying to get things done.”

Koncz said Pacquiao’s tax issues with the IRS are being addressed. “We’ve got a very competent tax team working together with a very competent accounting team and everyone is diligently coordinating with the IRS,” he said. “We’re in the right direction. We’re going over the tax issues and we hope to come to an agreement soon on matters that are still not resolved.” An indication of an impending settlement was the IRS recently lifting a tax lien on Pacquiao’s US assets.

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Regarding Provodnikov declaring himself available for Pacquiao, Koncz said “money changes a lot of people’s minds.” The Russian previously told The STAR through an interpreter that he would never fight Pacquiao out of respect for his stablemate. Both Provodnikov and Pacquiao are trained by Freddie Roach. But he recently said if the chance comes his way, he’ll take it.

Roach said he encouraged Provodnikov to take the Pacquiao fight if it’s offered. The hitch is neither Roach nor his assistant Marvin Somodio will be in Provodnikov’s corner for the bout. Provodnikov, 29, lost to Bradley on points last March but bounced back to wrest the WBO 140-pound crown from Mike Alvarado on a 10th round retirement in Denver.

“I told Ruslan if a promoter offers $10 Million to fight Manny, he should take it,” said Roach. “For a fighter, it’s all about financial security and that kind of a paycheck will set up Ruslan for life. He’s careful with his money so that purse will secure his future.”

Juan Manuel Marquez ruled himself out of the running in the Pacquiao derby for the April fight but hinted he may be ready for a fifth showdown late this year. Roach said Marquez could face Provodnikov and Pacquiao could take on Bradley for a chance to regain the WBO welterweight belt in the same card. If Marquez and Pacquiao win, a fifth encounter would be an easy sell. 

Koncz said another priority in his agenda is finalizing MP Promotions’ Feb. 8 card in Davao. “This is our third card since Nov. 25 and our Gen San event to celebrate Manny’s birthday last month had over 5,000 people,” he said. “We’ll do it Las Vegas-style with the lights and all. I think MP Promotions is picking up steam and we’re excited about the future.”

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