Pacquiao planning next fight

Now that Manny Pacquiao has lost his bid for a seat in the Philippines Congress to incumbent Darlene Custodio, the junior lightweight star is turning his attention back to his boxing career.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who spent time on the campaign trail with Pacquiao in the Philippines a few weeks ago, is busy working on his next fight.

Target date: Oct. 6.

"Manny wants to fight in October and that is a good TV date," Arum said. "It's before the World Series and before you get heavy into the [baseball] playoffs."

It also happens to be the date Showtime, which airs fights on the first Saturday of each month, is scheduled to put on a card.

HBO has washed its hands of Pacquiao for the time being because of the lawsuit over his promotional contract between Top Rank and rival Golden Boy Promotions. Showtime, however, is willing to talk to Arum about it.

"They're very interested," Arum said told ESPN.com. "They've reviewed the legal situation and they have a different take on it than HBO."

When Arum is in New York next week promoting the June 9 Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah welterweight title bout on HBO PPV, he plans to meet with Showtime about Pacquiao.

"Pacquiao is one of the most exciting fighters in the world and we're interested in talking to Bob about him," Showtime's Ken Hershman told ESPN.com. "We expect to have a meeting when Bob is in New York. We'll sit down and go over everything. Of course, we'd like to have Manny Pacquiao on Showtime."

Arum said he has four opponents in mind, but that ultimately Pacquiao will have the final say in who they pursue.

The candidates: junior lightweight titlist Joan Guzman, fellow beltholder Edwin Valero, top contender Humberto Soto and former champ Marco Antonio Barrera.

The one opponent most fans would prefer to see Pacquiao face -- champion Juan Manuel Marquez in a rematch of their fabulous 2004 draw -- is not on the list. Arum totally dismissed Marquez, who outpointed Barrera on March 17 in an outstanding fight, when he said, "Who the hell is Juan Manuel Marquez?"

Clearly, Arum is being disingenuous. He promoted Marquez for years until he bolted to rival Golden Boy. The bitter lawsuit over Pacquiao and deep animosity between Arum and Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya are the impediments to the companies doing business.

Now, a look at the four candidates to fight the Pac Man.

&bull; Guzman was supposed to move up to lightweight to face interim beltholder Michael Katsidis May 26 on HBO, but it was called off because Guzman suffered a hand injury. The fight is unlikely to be rescheduled now that lightweight titlist Juan Diaz has been ordered to defend against Katsidis, his mandatory. Arum said he's interested in making Guzman-Pacquiao.

"I think it will be a terrific fight," Arum said. He also indicated that it is a fight that could be made relatively easily. Even though Guzman is co-promoted by Golden Boy, Sycuan Ringside Promotions, Guzman's other promoter, can make a deal on its own.

This one is probably the toughest style match for Pacquiao as well as the least entertaining of the possible fights.

&bull; Valero, the Japan-based Venezuelan knockout artist, is a possibility if the fall fight is held in the Chinese territory of Macau, where Arum plans to do events in partnership with hotel magnate Steve Wynn, who recently opened a new resort there.

&bull; Soto, whom Arum promotes, is scheduled to fight Bobby Pacquiao, Manny's brother, on the Cotto-Judah undercard. Arum said a big peformance from Soto could land him a fight with the more famous Pacquiao.

"Who knows how Soto will look with Bobby? But if he looks good, that's an unbelievable fight, Manny and Soto," Arum said.

&bull; Barrera, who is with Golden Boy, is probably the biggest long shot. Pacquiao destroyed Barrera via 11th-round TKO in 2003, but it remains a big fight, even though Barrera is coming off a tight loss to Marquez.

"He says he's a free agent and that they'll [his representatives will] demonstrate he's a free agent," Arum said. "Golden Boy sent us letters saying he's still under contract. We've asked Golden Boy to show us something that says he is. Golden Boy said we should deal through them for Barrera. I'm not looking for more litigation. If he's a free agent, we can talk to Barrera. I would think that there is some magic in a Barrera fight."

Robert Diaz, Barrera's adviser, said Barrera remains under contract to Golden Boy.

"He has one more fight on his contract," Diaz told ESPN.com. "We are happy with Golden Boy and we are trying to set up a meeting with [CEO] Richard Schaefer this week in Los Angeles to talk about the next fight."

Diaz said Barrera isn't retiring off the loss to Marquez, as he had originally contemplated.

"Marco still has in mind that this year will be his last year in the ring, but he'd really like to fight Manny," Diaz said. "Marco still has one, maybe two more fights left, one big fight, hopefully with Manny, and then maybe a good-bye fight in Mexico. If something could be worked out, the best thing would be a rematch with Pacquiao. It's what is best for the fans, for Marco and for Pacquiao. But it means Golden Boy and Top Rank have to work things out."

Diaz said Barrera is not very interested in a rematch with Marquez, which has been proposed to him for Sept. 15, even though Barrera had a rematch clause in their contract.

"Marco has been offered the rematch, but right now he doesn't think that's the best thing when he has maybe one fight to go," Diaz said. "He feels he won the fight, the team feels he won the fight, so he's more interested in the bigger fight, which is Manny. He's been pushing for that rematch since he lost the first fight. In a business sense and a career sense, he feels Pacquiao is the better fight. He can make the most money for that fight, and if he's going to go out, he wants to do it against the fighter who knocked him out so he can go out on top. He doesn't want to do it against a fighter he feels he already beat."

Pacquiao plans to attend the annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards banquet in New York on June 8 to pick up his fighter of the year award and also will be ringside the next night to watch his brother fight Soto at Madison Square Garden.

The next day, Arum said, he and Pacquiao will take a private plane to Canastota, N.Y., to attend the International Boxing Hall of Fame inductions. Arum is a Hall of Famer and Roberto Duran, whom Arum promoted in several fights, is being inducted.

"We'll decide who he will fight during that week," Arum said. "There will be an active discussion on the way to Canastota."