THE immediate prospect of a long-awaited mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao seemed to recede after the Filipino's controversial majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao had been widely expected to win his third fight against the Mexican in convincing style but the nailbiting outcome, ruled by one of the three judges as a draw, persuaded his trainer to consider a fourth meeting between the fighters.
Freddie Roach, a shrewd tactician who has been uncannily accurate with his fight predictions, had forecast a Pacquiao victory well inside the distance on Saturday and he was amazed to be so far off the mark.
“I was very surprised,” Pacquiao's trainer said. “I had predicted my fighter would win in six rounds and I was way off. It was a competitive fight and it could have gone either way.
“I thought Manny edged it out in the last two rounds. It was the kind of fight I don't want to do again but I think we have to.
“He (Marquez) has given us problems three times now and he is very good at what he does. I do think he deserves a re-match first.”
Pacquiao, who clinched his 15th successive win by beating Marquez, was happy to take on the Mexican for a fourth time while he also laid down the gauntlet to Mayweather.
Asked if he would consider a fourth bout with Marquez, the Filipino southpaw replied: “Any time. I am a fighter and my job is to fight in the ring.”
As for Mayweather, he said: “Well, let's get it on. Make the fight happen and let's give the people a good fight.”
A duel between the defence-minded Mayweather and the aggressive Pacquiao, the two biggest drawcards of their generation, would decide the mythical title of the world's best pound-for-pound fighter.