For the past several months, it has seemed a foregone conclusion that pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. would return to the ring on May 4 against interim-WBC welterweight champion Robert Guerrero.
It seems that speculation was far off the mark.
Mayweather will indeed return to the ring on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, but his opponent is likely to shock and even anger many boxing fans:
The negotiations for my fight are almost done. The front runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. It’d be a unification bout at welterweight.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) February 6, 2013
Hear that? It's the sound of the boxing communities collective hands slapping their foreheads.
This is a fight that was on absolutely no one's radar and for several good and clear reasons.
First and foremost, Devon Alexander was scheduled to defend his title against Kell Brook (via Ben Thompson of Fight Hype) at the end of this month but was forced to pull out of the fight with a biceps injury.
Given the quickness with which negotiations with Mayweather came together, one could reasonably question whether the injury was legitimate or just a way to get out of a less-lucrative bout.
Let's get this out of the way right up front; Alexander is a decent fighter, and he holds a world title at welterweight. But anyone who tells you he presents anything close to a challenge for Mayweather is absolutely out of their mind.
In his last fight, in which he won the IBF title, Alexander absolutely stunk out the Barclays Center, winning a unanimous decision over the equally underwhelming Randall Bailey.
The crowd vehemently expressed their displeasure toward the St. Louis native, who is known for his safety-first unexciting style, booing him loudly when the decision was announced.
He doesn't have the speed, power or boxing ability to even make this a competitive fight, much less have a shot of winning.
Mayweather, who is known as much for his marketing acumen as his boxing ability, has really missed the mark with this fight.
Alexander has no natural fanbase. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
He has a style that's unappealing, awkward and built for the type of 12-to-nothing shutouts that Mayweather has made the trademark of his career.
That this fight will be marketed as a pay-per-view event is insulting to the sport's fans who will be asked to shell out upward of 60 bucks to see a fight that doesn't even possess an opponent with a "punchers chance" or anything like it.
Even with the presence of Canelo Alvarez on the card, he's been on the last several Mayweather PPV's, this one, will in all likelihood, jeopardize Floyd's lock on the American boxing PPV market.
Something must've gone horribly wrong in negotiations with Guerrero, who, at the very least, would've added some intrigue to the fight.
"The Ghost" would have been a heavy underdog, but his rough style combined with his determination would've given viewers a reason to tune in and see what he could bring to the table.
But even if that were the case and the Guerrero fight couldn't be made, then why settle on a virtual unknown who won't get you a single PPV buy?
Why not Timothy Bradley if it's all about title unification? Bradley owns the WBO title, would certainly jump at the fight and possesses both more name recognition and more of a chance to be competitive.
Not to mention, he is the only fighter who holds a victory over Alexander.
This is the type of fight that will fuel the fires of Mayweather's detractors who claim he has been very selective in his opponent selection over the years and has accomplished much by avoiding tougher fights.
While that might not be the case overall, it certainly seems to be in this situation.
It isn't a good fight, not for Mayweather or the sport, and it's going to have a heckuva time selling itself to a public—most of whom don't know Alexander and those who have no interest in paying to watch him fight.
Even Mayweather's most ardent defenders, of which there are many, will have a hard time defending this one.