Manny Pacquiao produced his most polished display for nearly a decade in dethroning Jessie Vargas to win the WBO welterweight title. The 37-year-old unloaded a barrage of shots on the helpless Vargas, who was mere cannon fodder for Pacquiao, who was fighting for the first time since coming out of retirement and being elected senator of the Philippines.
It seems certain that the southpaw is here to stay at the summit of global boxing, but where does he turn in search of his next opponent? The welterweight division is arguably the most exciting class in the sport, while there are even potential contenders to come from the super lightweight rankings.
Pacquiao's age and stage means he will only accept the biggest of fights on the grandest of terms and only a particular calibre of opponent will be acceptable to the Filipino. With that in mind, IBTimes UK has profiled the most likely candidates, including a possible clash with a UFC superstar.
If Pacquiao has any ambition of unifying the welterweight class, though as an eight-division world champion he has little to prove, then Brook would be the most receptive opponent to such ambitions. The IBF champion has not fought since being thumped by Gennady Golovkin in September but is keen on a clash to ensure he does not slip into the background of global boxing.
Before eventually securing a fight with Vargas, Pacquiao was being lined up to face Crawford who is the reigning WBC and WBO super lightweight champion. Freddie Roach has previously admitted he expects the fight to happen down the line, as has promoter Bob Arum, but the sticking point in negotiations could be if the bout took place at 140lbs or closer to Pacquiao's natural weight of 147lbs.
Should Brook's lack of global appeal fail to convince Pacquiao, then Garcia may be the fillip which tips the balance. The American is the current WBC champion and could claim the WBA belt in the New Year if he overcomes the unbeaten Keith Thurman when the pair square off next March. The snag remains the timing, which could see Garcia only available next summer when Pacquiao is due to attend sessions of the Philippines senate.
Assuming the fight is contested on boxing rules; Pacquiao is more than open to going toe-to-toe with the biggest star of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Irishman himself is open to boosting his global profile and having previously flirted with the idea of taking on Floyd Mayweather, would need little convincing to face Pacquiao knowing a new audience in Asia would be attracted. Such an intention could even be announced this weekend after UFC 205.
As far as negotiating a fight is concerned, no bout would be easier to secure than one which sees Khan return to the ring for the first time since losing to Canelo Alvarez against Pacquiao. The pair are good friends away from the ring, but privately promoters and broadcasters have concerns over the value of a fight between the duo. The clash would benefit the Briton much more than Pacquiao, which could well be the deciding factor.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
That Mayweather's presence ring-side at Pacquiao's win over Vargas was as newsworthy as the result itself, says much about the appetite for a rematch between the pair. Pacquiao produced a display which was worthy of drawing the American out of retirement, while Mayweather is running out of options if he wants his inevitable return to boxing to land him a major payday. Probably the only fight which would capture the imagination, despite their dreary clash in May 2015.
A fight that very much hinges on claiming victory over Garcia next year, where Thurman will start as favourite after 27 wins from as many bouts in his professional career. But once again Thurman would likely be looking at a summer fight, when Pacquiao's political career will take priority. What the Pacman has to gain from facing the 27-year-old is also debatable too.