Floyd Mayweather's return to the ring needs to be announced soon. He isn't getting any younger, and a long layoff could be detrimental to his career moving forward.
We all know a fight with Manny Pacquiao is the one most fans want to see, but that isn't likely to be Floyd's first fight since he defeated Miguel Cotto—and subsequently served a prison sentence.
Here's a list of potential opponents for Money to tangle with next.
Why It Could Happen
Alexander just picked up a world title by outpointing Randall Bailey on Saturday's mega card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He looked OK in the fight, but not too menacing.
He isn't a terribly hard puncher, and he doesn't hold a significant height or reach advantage over Mayweather. He does have good hand speed, and he's a southpaw. Mayweather has had some slight difficulties with southpaws in the past (see the first four rounds vs. Zab Judah), but overall he won't scare the Mayweather camp.
Alexander is co-promoted by Golden Boy, so that doesn't create the Bob Arum/Golden Boy or Mayweather impediment.
Why It May Not Happen
Alexander isn't exactly a major name. Mayweather is in a space where he seems to want to monetarily maximize on every appearance in the ring. I'm not sure he accomplishes that in a fight with Alexander.
He is the featured attraction, so there would be a draw if Mayweather were fighting some random guy at Target. However, Mayweather-Alexander isn't going to threaten any pay-per-view records.
Alexander is very skilled and has only lost one fight. He holds a world title and he's likely in the same speed category as Mayweather. Because he doesn't bring a ton of punching power to the table, Mayweather will likely engage in more exchanges, and the fight could be entertaining.
Mayweather would win by stoppage in the middle rounds. Alexander is a solid fighter, but Mayweather is an all-time great.
Why it Could Happen
"Maravilla" has been calling Mayweather out for a while. He validated himself with a decision victory over Julio Cesar Chavez in September, and now he's the undisputed king of the middleweights. In March, Martinez was even willing to drop down to 154 pounds to challenge Mayweather, per Boxing News 24.
Mayweather had already stated that he'd fight Martinez if he could make 150 pounds two months earlier, also per Boxing News 24.
There's obviously some mutual interest in this fight, and it would be a solid moneymaker.
Why it May Not Happen
This is a huge fight for Mayweather—and obviously Martinez. The latter has the talent to push Mayweather—or maybe even beat him. A loss would possibly sacrifice the opportunity of a Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight.
That means Mayweather could miss out on the biggest payday in boxing history. That wouldn't sit right with anyone—especially not Mayweather.
The danger in fighting Martinez is apparent. He is also a southpaw, if you couple that with his in-ring intelligence and other talents, the risk in this fight is nearly as high for Mayweather as it would be against Pacquiao.
Yet, the payoff isn't close.
This would be a matchup of two slick boxers, but both have some KO ability. I'd give Martinez the edge on that front, but Mayweather has proven he can punch as well.
It remains to be seen what toll dropping nearly 10 pounds would take on Martinez at 38 years old, but what a fight this would be.
As good as Martinez is, he's never fought a fighter as quick, and as sound defensively, as Mayweather.
He wouldn't emerge completely unscathed, but Mayweather would win. The drop in weight would be significant for Martinez—especially competing against a truly elite fighter.
Why it Could Happen
Alvarez has also called out Mayweather (join the club). Joseph Herron of Eastside Boxing reports Canelo wants Mayweather on May 4 of 2013.
Mayweather would be foolish to try and respond to every fighter that gets ballsy in front of a YouTube camera. I remember Antonio Margarito unsuccessfully pining for a fight with Mayweather six years ago, per ESPN. Anyone doubt how that fight would have turned out if they ever met?
The Arum dynamic was a major factor in that fight not taking place.
Canelo is promoted by Golden Boy so there won't be a problem on that front. Plus, he's a much better fighter than Margarito ever was. He also has a huge following amongst Mexican boxing fans. That dynamic generates a healthy amount of pay-per-view buys.
ESPN's Diego Morilla believes Canelo is the "clear choice" for Mayweather. He writes:
Mayweather's choices are now limited. But there is one natural fit. All things considered, given his energy, youth and huge appeal to fans of both sexes, his enormous (and growing) Mexican fan base and an unbeaten record to boot, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is the obvious choice.
Why It May Not Happen
Mayweather may believe that Alvarez hasn't proven enough. I would disagree with that notion—but you never know. He beat up an old Shane Mosley, and a game but overmatched Josesito Lopez.
Those two wins aren't especially impressive, but they place his resume just a notch below Victor Ortiz's when Mayweather fought him.
There's the issue of weight as well. Would Mayweather want Alvarez to fight at 150 pounds?
It will be Mayweather's call, and I can see him showing little interest to scrap with the young Mexican fighter.
Alvarez is an exciting offensive fighter. He punches hard, and he's accurate. He has KO power, and the old champion vs. young lion angle would actually fit here. If the fight takes place on or near Cinco De Mayo, it would be an even bigger attraction.
In my opinion, this fight has the best shot at happening.
I find Canelo to be a bit overrated. He doesn't have tremendous defense, and he has a tendency to start slowly. Though he has good hand speed, it certainly isn't on par with Mayweather's. Floyd won't stand and trade with him.
He'll move around and outbox him while Canelo struggles to get off punches. Believe it or not, Mayweather actually has the chance to stop the young Mexican late.
Mayweather would defeat Canelo with surprising ease.
The Martinez fight is the most intriguing of the three options, but a fight with Canelo seems to be the most practical. Either fight would be a formidable tune-up to a Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight.
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