Who does Mayweather fight next?
By Diarmuid Sherry: After dominating both Robert Guerrero and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KO’s) in this latest stage of his career, confirming his supremacy in both the welterweight and light-middleweight divisions as well as the sport in general, the questions now concerning fight fans is “Who does Floyd Mayweather fight next?”
Mayweather is targeting a May return to the ring, and seemingly has a number of contenders vying to share the space in between the ropes with. Indeed, this is in vast contrast from 6 months ago, post-Guerrero fight, where it was felt that Canelo was simply the only option for Mayweather’s next fight, since not only did it make financial and competitive sense, but the relative failure of the PPV numbers for Showtime Sports meant that Mayweather’s opponent choice was some what forced upon him by the television executives of Showtime, wishing to get a better return from their costly investment.
So who are the contenders who will next have the opportunity to inflict Mayweather’s first defeat.
The talented young American of Puerto Rican descent is probably Golden Boy’s and Showtime’s preferred option; Garcia was placed upon the Mayweather-Canelo undercard against the fearsome Argentine, Lucas Matthysse with the view of matching Floyd and Garcia together should both win and indeed, tough and impressive victories over Matthysse, Zab Judah, Erik Morales (twice), Amir Khan and Kendall Holt has only confirmed Garcia’s status as the top man of the Light-Welterweight division and a move north to 147lbs seems the most viable next option. Both unbeaten, and marketable, a Mayweather-Garcia fight at welterweight would bound to do some good business, not to mention the added spice of the charismatic lunacy of Garcia’s trainer/father Angel Garcia, who will bound to be ruffling up a few feathers of Floyd, in the lead-up and promotion of any such event.
A fight possibly motivated by the financial rewards rather than increasing his own legacy, a bout with Khan is probably for Mayweather the best when you consider the risk/reward factor. Destructive defeats by Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson has lessoned the respect that some boxing fans give to Khan, however, if Amir beats Devon Alexander in his conquest to win the IBF Welterweight crown in December, then Khan would be a current ’World’ champion which would only serve to increase the legitimacy of a Mayweather-Khan event. Furthermore, Floyd has mentioned of his desire to box at Wembley Stadium, which, if he does would put Khan in the position of the front-runner as the opponent that would definitely fill the 90,000 seat stadium.
Khan would hold the size advantage over Floyd, and has the speed and technicalities to possibly trouble Floyd. Amir’s fan-friendly machismo streak to fight in the trenches could also serve to make a rare match-up involving Mayweather that would be highly entertaining. However, Khan’s brittle chin will forever be his Achilles heel, something that Floyd would feel that he could take advantage of if the pair were ever to meet.
Mentioned as a possible opponent by Mayweather earlier this year in order to bait Robert Guerrero to sign his part of the contract, Alexander would increase his chances of sharing a ring with Floyd, should he defeat Amir Khan in December. Both American and promoted by Golden Boy, the proposed fight should be a simple event to make.
However, the crafty southpaw from St. Louis has been involved in some dour bouts in the past against Randall Bailey and Timothy Bradley and was also seen as the fortunate hometown winner against Lucas Matthysse, which could very well ruin his chances of being chosen as Mayweather’s next opponent. Therefore, an impressive victory over Khan is going to be required if Alexander is going to get the massive payday that is received from fighting Mayweather.
If boxing was a meritocracy then Bradley would surely be the leading Welterweight candidate to challenge Mayweather, should the unbeaten WBO ’World’ champion beat Juan Manuel Marquez next month. This coupled with the enthralling war against Ruslan Provodnikov, the decision win over Manny Pacquiao and Bradley’s previous successes at Light Welterweight, should, in a fair world make Bradley as the number one contender to Mayweather.
However, boxing is a sport that cynics would say is run by politics and finance, and in this respect, Bradley struggles compared to other rivals. The current promotional Cold War between Golden Boy/Showtime and Top Rank/HBO means that Bradley’s affiliation with Top Rank and Bob Arum would mean that any possible negotiations would be incredibly tough. Furthermore, Bradley, despite his undoubted skills has yet to capture the mainstream American audience and would be, at least from Mayweather’s viewpoint, the least satisfactory opponent, when the risk/reward factor is taken into account.
Boxing fans have long grown tired and disinterested of the unsuccessful drawn-out negotiations of the fight that should have taken place when both fighters were in their prime four years ago. Any further lust for a Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight was also lost following Pacquiao’s controversial points defeat to Tim Bradley and his emphatic knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
However, if Manny gets by the dangerous Brandon Rios in Macau during November, and both Floyd’s camp and Manny’s camp settle their differences and negotiate a contest; the event would no doubt still grab worldwide mainstream attention and would be still the highest grossing boxing event in history, something that Floyd “Money” Mayweather cannot ignore. The current animosity between the two boxers, and especially between Mayweather and Bob Arum means that this dream match-up is still highly unlikely to ever get made. A situation that when looked back upon is almost criminal that in boxing sometimes, the best match-ups never come to fruition.
The wildcard option, but when thoroughly looked upon, Martinez is an option that could make a lot of sense.
Although fighting at Middleweight, Martinez is very small for the division, and is easily able to make 154lbs should he want to, and fight in the weight limit where Floyd is the lineal champion. However, Martinez, despite recent fights to suggest that his 38 years are starting to catch up with him, is still considered the legitimate Middleweight champion, and should Mayweather defeat Martinez at 160lbs, then his legacy would be enhanced significantly. Furthermore, although Martinez fights at Middleweight, the actual fight night weight difference between the pair would probably not be a major problem and would be very similar to the weight difference between Floyd and Canelo.
Martinez is currently recovering from surgery, and is targeting a return to the ring in early 2014, so should therefore easily be able to be fit for a date in May. Indeed, Martinez has in the past desperately called out both Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao as he attempts to gain a career high purse.
However, Martinez is a counter puncher that relies on his speed and footwork, so the resulting match-up with Floyd could lead to a bout of posturing rather than fighting. Another problem would be the fact that Martinez is very much a HBO fighter, whereas Mayweather has his mega-millions contract with Showtime. This obstacle can easily be jumped however, because Martinez isn’t promoted by Top Rank (Martinez is promoted by Lou Di Bella) and would therefore be theoretically more open to do business with Mayweather and Golden Boy. One gets the feeling that a Mayweather bout is the only fight that Martinez would leave HBO for.
Certainly, if Mayweather wants to increase his sense of being a legend of boxing, then a fight with Martinez should seriously be considered.