They’re not among the familiar names being floated, but either Mexican-American Jessie Vargas or Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko may soon be thrust into the limelight.
A Team Pacquiao insider told the Inquirer Saturday that Manny Pacquiao may just decide to face one of them in his comeback fight most probably to be held April 20 at a venue yet to be decided.
The unbeaten Vargas (21-0 with nine knockouts) and former WBA world titlist Senchenko (33-1 with 22 knockouts) are strong contenders to face the eight-division world champion when he tries to rebound from a sixth round knockout he suffered against Juan Manuel Marquez last Dec. 8 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 23-year-old Vargas, a tall welterweight at 5-foot-11, should have the inside track over Senchenko by virtue of his being under Top Rank’s stable of fighters.
Already 35, the 5-foot-10 Senchenko’s career got a lift last October when he stopped Ricky Hatton with a liver shot in the ninth round, sending the Briton into permanent retirement.
Pacquiao made Hatton quit boxing with a debilitating second round knockout in 2008.
Though the original plan of Top Rank honcho Bob Arum was for Pacquiao to meet Marquez for the fifth time in September, the congressman from Sarangani Province, through his adviser Michael Koncz, relayed his desire to fight twice this year.
Tasked to find a suitable opponent for Pacquiao is Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Tampler.
Owing to the stiff taxes he’ll have to pay if he fights again in the United States, the Pacquiao camp, with the blessing of Top Rank president Tod Duboef, is exploring the viability of staging Pacquiao’s next fight in Asia (Singapore, Macau or Dubai).
Other names prominently mentioned as possible Pacquiao foes are Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios and Robert Guerrero.
Bradley, who got the decision but not the recognition when he tangled with Pacquiao last June, and Rios, who stopped Mike Alvarado in a brutal war last October, are both with Top Rank.