Most expect the fight between welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Brandon Rios on Nov. 7 (HBO) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas to be a crowd-pleasing affair, including Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who is already thinking ahead for what could be in line for the winner.
Arum has already named Bradley Jr. as one of the three leading candidates -- Terence Crawford and Amir Khan are the others -- to land an April 9 fight with retiring Manny Pacquiao if Bradley beats Rios impressively. But that seems only like a negotiating ploy for Arum, who needs as many opponents as possible to bring to Pacquiao so he has leverage making the deal.
It would seem doubtful that Arum really would pursue Pacquiao-Bradley again. They have already fought twice in lackluster bouts, neither of which blew the doors off in terms of pay-per-view performance. Bradley was given a split decision in the first meeting, in a fight virtually everyone thought Pacquiao won easily. In the rematch, Pacquiao dominated and won an easy decision.
But besides a possible third Pacquiao fight for Bradley, Arum also said a fight with Canelo Alvarez at junior middleweight is possible if Alvarez defeats middleweight champion Miguel Cotto on Nov. 21.
It’s a fight Bradley has already said he wants in the future. And if Rios upsets Bradley, Arum said Alvarez-Rios sounds good to him also.
"If Bradley wins and is not fighting Pacquiao, I’d like to make him with Canelo. That’s a good fight," Arum told ESPN.com. "If Canelo beats Cotto, I’ve talked to (Alvarez promoter) Oscar (De La Hoya) about the winner of Bradley-Rios fighting Canelo, and he loves it."
As much as Bradley has said he would definitely want that fight, so does Rios.
"This is such an important fight," Robert Garcia, Rios’ trainer, said on Tuesday at Rios' media workout. "Win this, and we can fight (Terence) Crawford or the winner of Canelo versus Cotto. We will listen to (manager) Cameron Dunkin, who will tell us what works best. We expect to beat Bradley, win the title and move on."
If Alvarez beats Cotto, a fight with the Bradley-Rios winner would be a quality alternative -- although not as good -- if he does not go through with a fight against unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who is mandatory for the Cotto-Alvarez winner by virtue of his ownership of an interim belt.