Since Manny Pacquiao hammered Antonio Margarito over 12 lopsided rounds on Nov. 13, there has been anticipation regarding who the pound-for-pound king would face in the spring.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has been pushing hard for lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez to get a shot at Pacquiao's welterweight title. Marquez, after all, is highly ranked on the pound-for-pound list -- just a few spots away from top-ranked Pacquiao. Marquez is also Mexico's most significant active fighter and has had two sensational and controversial battles against Pacquiao, who got a draw in their 2004 featherweight championship fight and a split decision win in their 2008 junior lightweight title fight.
Fans have clamored for a third fight since, but Shane Mosley -- who is 0-1-1 in a pair of poor performances against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sergio Mora in his last two fights -- has emerged as the favorite. Mosley is in the midst of a nasty breakup with Golden Boy, leaving the company to negotiate the Pacquiao fight on his own with Top Rank's Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter.
Arum has said that Marquez and welterweight titlist Andre Berto are also on the short list and he has gotten term sheets from both. Arum is in the Philippines this week meeting with Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), who is expected to announce his next opponent on Friday -- his 32nd birthday.
Giving Schaefer more ammunition to push for Marquez was the disclosure Tuesday by Arum that Pacquiao's next fight will take place on May 7 -- the weekend of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, which traditionally includes a major fight involving a Mexican star.
Golden Boy is already holding that date for a fight card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a likely location of Pacquiao's next fight. But Schaefer said he has no interest in going to battle with Arum over the date.
"We are holding May 7 at the MGM but, of course, if Pacquiao is going to fight, I would step aside and give the date to Pacquiao and switch to April 16 [the original Pacquiao date] for what we were planning on doing," Schaefer said. "I really think if Pacquiao is going to fight May 7, on Cinco de Mayo weekend, you have to do Marquez on the Mexican holiday. Do you know how big that would be? It's a big fight no matter when it would be, but it would be even bigger on the Mexican holiday in Las Vegas."
Schaefer said he has kept an open dialogue with Top Rank president Todd duBoef through e-mails and said he sent him a note Wednesday morning in the hopes that they could come to an agreement for Pacquiao-Marquez, especially because of the date of the fight.
"I told Todd that I thought it was the right thing to do and that Marquez makes more sense on the Mexican holiday," Schaefer said. "I asked Todd to please get back to me with a deal which would be acceptable for Pacquiao and I will get it done. Just tell me what Pacquiao is willing to do and let me go to Marquez with the deal. If Marquez doesn't want it, or doesn't like the deal and turns it down, so be it. But that's the fight the public wants to see and now more so being on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Marquez is the logical choice."
Schaefer has already agreed to let Top Rank buy out Golden Boy on the fight rather than have it be a co-promotion where both sides share in the revenue.
Arum said Tuesday that Marquez's term sheet was being considered but that "the problem with Marquez is the number he wants is so damn high and he hasn't moved off it, and that's preventing the Marquez fight."
Arum, who has a clear preference to make the Mosley fight, claimed that Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) had asked for double what he made to fight Mayweather, which was a guarantee of $3.2 million. Schaefer disputed that.
"That's not correct," he said. "But this deal would be a buyout, so whatever Marquez's side gets has to include Golden Boy. So you can't compare it with what Marquez got paid against Mayweather because we have to get paid too. For the Mayweather fight, we were the promoter. This fight would be Top Rank, so they asked us for a number to buy us out. Hey, if they want to do a percentage deal I'm willing to do that and the guarantee would be much lower.
"So you want to buy me out, there's a number for Marquez and a number for Golden Boy. Or let's do a percentage deal and we'll also take the risk. But either way, I had a nice e-mail exchange with Todd. I told Todd get me what you're willing to do. Just tell me what it takes to get the fight done."
Schaefer said if Marquez does not get the fight -- and he is prepared for that likelihood -- then Marquez would headline the April 16 pay-per-view card.
Schaefer said Marquez would defend the lightweight championship against Erik Morales, the former three-division champ (and former Top Rank star) who wants to become the first Mexican fighter to win titles in four weight divisions. A win over Marquez would do the job.
But Morales, who is past his prime, would have to win his fight on Saturday in Tijuana, Mexico, against late replacement Francisco Lorenzo, who took the fight Tuesday when former junior lightweight titlist Jorge Barrios dropped out because he was unable to secure the proper paperwork to travel from Argentina to Mexico for the fight.
"If Marquez doesn't get the fight with Pacquiao, we would consider doing the fight with Morales on April 16 in Las Vegas, although Mexico is interested as well," Schaefer said. "[Mexican network] Televisa talked to us about doing it at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City as part of a big, daylong event."
The Mexican trio of Marquez, Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, along with Pacquiao, dominated the featherweight and junior lightweight divisions for years and they all fought each other with the lone exception being that Marquez and Morales have yet to fight.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.