In the world of professional boxing, there is Floyd "Money" Mayweather and then there is everyone else. Since Manny Pacquiao suffered back-to-back losses, the pound-for-pound great stands alone at the top of the heap. At this point, no one questions he's the best—in the ring and at the box office.
So, when news broke earlier this week that Mayweather had picked his next opponent, the world took notice. Britain's the Daily Mail had the scoop, and it was a doozy:
Amir Khan is to do battle with Floyd Mayweather in the richest fight ever to involve a British boxer. Bolton’s former Olympic hero will meet the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world in Las Vegas on May 3. Khan’s share of this $200million blockbuster is expected to be no less than $6m and is likely to climb to at least double that from pay-TV sales on both sides of the Atlantic.
Two years ago, this would have been cause for celebration. But in 2013? After Khan has lost two high-profile fights? Something seemed off. Khan was still on the short list for a fight with Mayweather, but only after proving himself against a tough Devon Alexander later this year on Showtime. For Khan and British boxing fans, jumping directly to Mayweather almost appeared too good to be true.
It turns out, it was.
After the story was picked up around the world, including here at Bleacher Report, the denials came as fast as they were furious.
First, Showtime's boxing boss, Stephen Espinoza, who was quoted in the Daily Mail article, denied even talking to the outlet, telling The Sweet Science's Michael Woods, "I just saw the article. None of that is true."
Next, Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, got in on the act, telling the Los Angeles Times it was too soon to discuss Floyd's next opponent:
Can’t he take a vacation before someone anoints the next guy? I have no idea (where the rumors are coming from). We hear rumors all the time. Who wouldn’t want to fight Floyd Mayweather? Everybody wants to be in the money pot.
On Wednesday, Khan himself entered the fray to quiet the storm, issuing a statement through his camp, via ESPN:
Team Khan would like to dispel recent reports that Amir Khan has pulled out of a potential matchup against Devon Alexander on Dec. 7th, taking up a fight against Floyd Mayweather in May of next year instead. Contrary to this story, Amir Khan is currently in training camp in San Francisco with the aim of fighting again in December against Alexander once an agreement can be reached.
In boxing, it's never clear exactly who to believe. A smart reporter believes none of what he hears and half of what he sees. For now, the powers that be seem clear that Mayweather is not matched up with Khan for a bout in May.
But May is a long time away. And worthy contenders are few and far between. I suspect that if Khan beats Alexander in a proposed December bout, this is a conversation we'll be revisiting—only this time the fight will be real and not a Mayweather mirage.