Floyd Mayweather Jr. came back into the ring and reminded us all that he is still a force to be reckoned with on Saturday, taking out Robert Guerrero in a 12-round brawl that once again showcased the champion's speed, poise and outstanding defense.
So what's next for the two fighters?
Mayweather moved to 44-0 in his professional career after the unanimous decision was announced at the MGM Grand on Saturday night, while Guerrero took just his second career loss in moving to 31-2-1 (2 no-contests).
This was also the first of six Mayweather fights on Showtime Sports, though the returns (money-wise) haven't been expected to be what the network hoped when they signed the unquestioned boxing legend to a six-fight deal in February (h/t Forbes.com).
As Mayweather sets his sights on what could be the final five fights of his career, Guerrero will look to bounce back from this setback, reclaim a title in the process and maybe muster up enough strength to challenge Money one more time (doubtful on that last one, though).
Let's take a look at where both fighters likely go from here.
"The Ghost" looked just like his nickname for most of the fight, landing some early blows before getting completely outclassed in the middle and later rounds of the fight.
Guerrero never really got anything going in this fight and failed to convince us that he was even worthy of a title shot against the undefeated champion in the first place. He left Las Vegas with more questions than answers regarding his pro career.
One such question is simple—who's next?
An obvious candidate would be Andre Berto in a rematch card, but Guerrero easily handled Berto in November to earn a shot against Money, and a fight against him now so soon would completely convince the boxing faithful that he was nothing more than a tune-up fight for Pretty Boy's swan song.
Other candidates include Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi, and maybe even a guy like Timothy Bradley, who will be taking on Juan Manuel Marquez later this year in a battle of the Manny Pacquiao-slayers.
Even still, Guerrero could get into the ring against Victor Ortiz, or what I feel like is the most likely scenario of all—taking the loser between the June 8 Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez fight. Paul Magno of Yahoo! Sports has already pontificated that the winner of that fight could see Mayweather, so the loser seeing Guerrero wouldn't be out of the question at all.
Of course, the negativity surrounding Guerrero should not dampen his case to be a longstanding contender in the sport.
This is a guy who thoroughly dominated Berto back in December and had only dropped one official decision before the Mayweather fight, and even against Floyd his toughness and heart were both on full display in avoiding getting knocked out in the first six rounds.
There's a place for Guerrero in the welterweight class, and he proved that with his loss to Mayweather. Don't discount Guerrero because he stepped up to the plate and took a fight he likely had no business taking, because when you look around, there are few fighters who do have a legitimate claim to Mayweather's throne.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
That's a perfect segue into what's next for Mayweather.
Who is worthy for a shot at the undefeated champ to prevent him from going 49-0?
That answer is one that experts and fans alike are shooting blanks at across the board. While Mayweather is a dominant force at 147 pounds, there are few fighters with the pedigree, talent or stones to call Mayweather out for a fight at his current weight.
To get the most disappointing news out of the way first: It's due time we all gave up on Pacquiao-Mayweather. That fight, while likely one that would go down in the history books for money, ability and quality, is too far away now for both guys to be deemed realistic at this point.
Pacquiao is at least two wins and some luck away, while Mayweather won't cave on any of his former demands (huge cut, drug-testing mandates) with an undefeated career record and the light at the end of his career tunnel in sight.
The one thing keeping the superfight alive, though, is money.
While Money May is still one of the highest-paid athletes on the planet, the fans who purchase his fights did not make up that difference on Saturday night. According to this tweet from ESPN's Dan Rafael, profit margins for Showtime Sports are not expected to be met:
If Mayweather PPV indeed does under 1M that will mean heavy $$ losses for Showtime. My sources tell me break even was about 1.1 or 1.2M buys— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) May 7, 2013
If Rafael's assertions prove to be true, it could be disastrous in the long term for Showtime, Mayweather and future fighters who take aim at the crown.
Back in reality, there's still at least five Mayweather fights to make. Potential opponents include some of the same guys mentioned in the Guerrero section, including Alexander. It's hard to see Mayweather taking a fight against an HBO guy now, either, specifically because of his exit from the network and his huge deal with Showtime.
HBO won't be shown up by Mayweather—period.
The likeliest candidate for Mayweather, if he really wants to test himself after the Guerrero trouncing, will be Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, who recently took home a close decision against Austin Trout and is being groomed as the next great boxing star.
That fight isn't anywhere close to happening, either (h/t Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix), because of the seven-pound difference and the probable refusal of both fighters to go up or down a full class:
If Floyd Mayweather doesn't want to fight at 154-pounds, I don't blame him. If Canelo wants the fight, he should come down to 147— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 7, 2013
The looming question still remains: Who is left to really challenge Mayweather? Mannix took a look at the situation after the Guerrero fight:
And beyond Canelo, who is out there? "There are still tough competitors still in the sport," Mayweather said. "I want to compete with the top competition." But who? Danny Garcia? His wide, looping punches would make him target practice for Mayweather. Amir Khan? Khan suffered two losses in 2012 and has looked shaky in his last two wins. Devon Alexander? Lamont Peterson? Lucas Matthysse? Do any of these prospective opponents appear to be any significant challenge to Mayweather's throne?
We leave Mayweather and Guerrero behind this week, and we do so with more questions than answers for two fighters who would likely pull a bigger card fighting each other again than fighting any other (willing) opponent in the next six months (with the exception of Alvarez).
Mayweather won, Guerrero lost, and so did Showtime Sports—and it could take several other cards to officially sort out the mess of who both of these guys fight in their next bout.
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