Manny Pacquiao vs Vyacheslav Senchenko in April?
Is Pacquiao vs Senchenko more likely today?
According to reports, Top Rank President Bob Arum hinted he is contemplating a fight card on April 20 that will feature Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in separate bouts and Vyacheslav Senchenko is being touted as one of several possible opponents for the Filipino Slugger.
The other possible opponent recently mentioned is Jessie Vargas.
Tim Bradley and Brandon Rios
And while Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios have also been bantered as possible Manny Pacquiao foes, both would seemingly be too much risk for the reward and put Pacquiao vs Marquez V in a bit of jeopardy. Although both men would be underdogs against Pacquiao, they are undefeated and dangerous.
Bradley won a hotly-disputed decision over Pacquiao in June despite fighting on a broken ankle from Round 2. So what happens if Pacquiao fights a healthy Bradley? Who knows? But one thing is for certain - Top Rank doesn't want to find out at the risk of jeopardizing Manny's fifth bout against Marquez.
Tim Bradley is almost universally-recognized as a Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter while Brandon Rios is arguably in the Top 15.
Young, hungry and extremely rugged, Brandon Rios showed in his most recent bout against Mike Alvarado he'd be a threat to anyone from lightweight to welterweight. He appears to have decent power at jr welterweight and, as usual, keeps and coming and coming, regardless of the oncoming artillery fire.
Guys like Bradley and Rios, at least in this stage of their careers, aren't exactly 'tune-up' opponents.
Enter Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Who is this guy?
Senchenko, from Donetsk, Ukraine, won the WBA Lightweight title in April 2009 and successfully defended it three times in the ensuing three years. He's not a whirlwind, but he's tough, disciplined and technically sound, as Ricky Hatton would probably attest.
Then the WBA Champion, Senchenko would lose his title in April 2012 to Paul Malignaggi who used rapid combinations and superior footwork to outbox and outfox his slower, more methodical foe.
The American also employed an accurate jab and fast combinations in the early going to break the nose of the then-unbeaten Senchenko en route to a nine round, fight-ending technical stoppage.
Months later, the Ukrainian was selected as Ricky Hatton's opponent for the Brit's comeback party last November. However, things didn't go exactly as planned for the combacking Hatton.
Ricky Hatton appeared to win the first three rounds on aggression, moving forward, applying pressure and landing power shots. However, Senchenko maintained a tight defense and used his reach advantage to land jabs and then move away, winning rounds.
Wild and a bit rusty, Hatton missed a lot and ultimately left himself vulnerable to a debilitating left hand body shot. The punch sent Hatton to his knees late in the ninth, crying in pain. The British star, despite being ahead on all three cards (77-76 twice and 78-74), would be counted out.
Although Ricky Hatton was the busier fighter, Senchenko landed the higher percentage of punches- including 42% of his power shots. Senchenko doubled Hatton in jabs landed and had started to come on strong at the time of the knockout.
Pacquiao vs Senchenko
Like Malignaggi, Pacquiao is incredibly fast, possesses great footwork and can punch well from all angles. As a matter of fact, Pacquiao is arguably superior to the American is those categories. However, Manny Pacquiao, like Ricky Hatton, would give up height and reach to Senchenko.
The Ukrainian would have nearly 4 inches on PacMan was well as a 5 inch reach advantage.
Also, like Hatton, Manny fights in an aggressive style. And as we've witnessed several times in the past 2-3 years - especially during Pacquiao vs Marquez IV - Manny can be hit flush. Would that style play into Senchenko's battle-plan? After all, Senchenko is a fighter who likes to allow smaller opponents to come right to him and the smaller Pacquiao will certainly engage him should they battle.
But unlike the British star, Pacquiao wouldn't be so raw in his attack. Manny's sizzling speed, superior offensive skills and incredible footwork would ultimately rise to the fore.
The Filipino would unleash a barrage of crisp combinations from one angle and then follow-up from another while or before Senchenko could reset and re-position to counter.
Viacheslav Senchenko is not as nimble as Juan Manuel Marquez nor does he possess the Mexican's counter-punching prowess.
However, Senchenko is a patient, durable fighter who is poised enough to find an opponent's weaknesses and good enough to exploit them.
Keep in mind, the Ukrainian has a solid amateur pedigree and represented his country at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia as a Light Welterweight (63.5 kg).
And while he doesn't possess the punching power or athletic abilities as Pacquiao, the Ukrainian is a polished veteran who boasts a 65% knock-outs-to-fights ratio. Moreover, he has been stopped only once in 34 bouts - And the stoppage was due to cuts against a 'hit and run' fighter.
Freddie Roach, who trains both fighters, stated in 2011 he'd work in the Pacquiao corner should Pacquiao vs Senchenko come to fruition.
Perhaps Roach's dual status will complicate matters as he's intimately involved with both camps and understands both fighters' strengths and weaknesses. Some would assert Roach's involvement with Senchenko would give PacMan an unfair advantage.
In the event they meet, (Pacquiao and Senchenko) Manny will win easy," said Trainer Roach in 2011.
But would Roach say the same today? Manny is coming off two loses in a row inckuding a devastating knockout while Senchenko recently rebounded from his sole loss, orchestrating an emphatic one-punch knockout of his own.
For Team Pacquiao, Jessie Vargas is arguably the best choice for an April tune-up.
And while Pacquiao would be the clear favorite over the Ukrainian, Senchenko is not a fighter to be taken gently and is just dangerous enough to pose too great a threat given the size of both fighters as well as their styles, pedigrees and most recent bouts.
Pacquiao vs Senchenko in April... Not the best choice for Top Rank and crew.