Will a real challenger for Floyd Mayweather, Jr. please stand up? And more importantly, will Mayweather actually schedule that fight?
Those were the questions I found myself asking after Mayweather absolutely dominated Robert Guerrero on Saturday night. And I think the answer to the first question is Saul "Canelo" Alvarez since, at this point, Manny Pacquiao seems out of the equation.
The answer to the second question is the real key.
If Mayweather wants us to take hold his 44-0 record in as high esteem as he obviously does—and he's earned the right to do so—he needs to face a true challenge and offer fans a Miguel Cotto-esque battle.
Because, outside of that Cotto bout, he hasn't exactly faced a gauntlet of elite fighters of late, as Bryan Armen Graham of Sports Illustrated pointed out:
But Saturday's beatdown underscored how Mayweather has behaved more as a businessman than boxer since his rematch with Jose Luis Castillo in 2001, adopting a conservative approach to picking his opponents for 16 consecutive fights. With so much money at stake, who can blame him for eschewing unnecessary risk? He earned a guaranteed $32 million for Saturday's outing, a figure nearly certain to swell to more than $40 million once the pay-per-view and closed-circuit receipts are tallied.
Do you know why he should take a risk or two in whom he schedules to fight?
Because fights against opponents like Guerrero are boring. Because watching the best in the world fight against boxers that are obviously of a lower caliber is like seeing the Rolling Stones play "Row Row Row Your Boat" in concert. Because the sport of boxing needs its biggest star to do more than line his pockets.
A fight against Alvarez would be the type of elite matchup the sport needs. Just imagine all of the storylines:
- The aging superstar against the future star of the sport.
- Both fighters are undefeated.
- Mayweather's reputation speaks for itself, while Alvarez is one of the hottest names in the sport after beating Austin Trout. Alvarez was the first man to drop Trout to the mat in a fight.
- Alvarez has the power to fight in close, pressuring Mayweather inside of his guard rather than playing the finesse game with Money.
There are exactly three fights I would be pleased with if Mayweather scheduled them. The first is Pacquiao, but that matchup barely feels relevant at this point and isn't happening.
The second is Adrien Broner, though I'm not sure the 23-year-old is quite ready for Mayweather just yet.
Alvarez will be Mayweather's next opponent.
And the third is Alvarez, who is free, desperately wants to fight Mayweather and would offer the world's greatest fighter a legitimate challenge. Plus, the hype and pay-per-view buys on that fight would be immense.
It makes sense from a boxing standpoint. Perhaps more importantly, it makes sense from a business standpoint. Now it's just up to Mayweather to actually take on the challenge.
Do it, Money, we're getting tired of your "Row Row Row Your Boat" competition.