Floyd Mayweather Jr. dismantled Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night in his second appearance under the insatiably lucrative six-fight megadeal he signed with television giant Showtime last February.
At 36, Mayweather looked better than ever. He was fast-handed and seemingly able to land at will through all 12 rounds of the contest. Perhaps even more impressively, Mayweather was able to slip, parry and dodge 78 percent of the 526 total punches Canelo sent towards him (h/t CompuBox).
The win netted Mayweather the lineal junior middleweight championship of the world, according to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, along with a slew of alphabet and magazine titles.
Mayweather’s win provides him ample opportunity to maximize his historical legacy as one of the finest pugilists who has ever lived. Selecting the right four fights could mean the difference between future generations scoffing at him as a rival for Ray Robinson as the best pound-for-pound boxer ever or putting him on a pedestal near or even above him.
First, Mayweather should seek a bout against middleweight king Sergio Martinez as soon as possible. The 38-year-old Argentinean has looked sluggish in his last two bouts, and he seems to have started losing his trademark speed and quickness.
A fighter’s natural ability diminishes with age. Even Mayweather isn’t as fleet a foot as he once was. But Martinez’s unorthodox style relies heavily on being a better athlete than the man standing in front of him, and the longer he gets in the tooth, the less effective he’ll be in the ring of fight night.
Mayweather would be wise to set a catchweight just over the 154-pound junior middleweight limit. This would leave Martinez’s linear middleweight championship on the line while still forcing him to lose weight he hasn’t had to lose before a fight in years.
If Martinez can’t be ready by next May, Mayweather should look towards the junior welterweight division. There, Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia has shown himself to be the very best in the world today.
Garcia outslugged Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of Mayweather-Canelo, even dropping the dangerous slugger from Argentina in Round 11.
Garcia has quietly built a fine resume. He plays the underdog role right up until the bell rings. After that, Garcia shows his quality.
At 25, Garcia is in the prime of his career. He blasted out Amir Khan in 2012 in just four rounds and has wins over legends Erik Morales and Zab Judah.
Mayweather-Garcia would be an easy fight to sell, and meeting at welterweight would give Mayweather an advantage he probably doesn’t even need.
Assuming he gets past both Garcia and Martinez, Mayweather might look towards the man fight fans have dubbed the “mini-Mayweather.”
Adrien Broner has the skill set and athleticism that could give Mayweather fits. He’s absolutely brilliant offensively, and he uses his Mayweather-patterned defense better and better each fight.
Broner doesn’t quite have the resume yet to back his braggadocios behavior, but he’s rumored to be facing Marcos Maidana next in what is sure to be a barnburner. A win in that one along with another solid matchup in either the 140- or 147-pound division would give Mayweather the time he needs to face Martinez and Garcia, while giving Broner the experience he’ll need to have a shot against boxing’s best.
If Mayweather is 48-0 with wins over two linear champions (Martinez and Garcia) as well as one of boxing’s most exemplar natural talents (Broner), he would be best served by seeking a bout against the fighter he is most criticized for having avoided.
A resurgent Manny Pacquiao, one with wins over Brandon Rios, Timothy Bradley and/or Juan Manuel Marquez, would give Mayweather the chance to finish his career by defeating his lone rival for this generation of fight fans’ hearts.
Moreover, it would likely break all box-office and live-gate records known to man and be considered the most important bout in boxing history.
And a 49-0 Mayweather who does all that? He’s the new Ray Robinson.