Odds for the Top Contenders to Be Floyd Mayweather's Next Opponent

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

Odds for the Top Contenders to Be Floyd Mayweather's Next Opponent

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    Boxing's pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather makes headlines wherever he goes. On a recent trip to South Africa, he indicated, via ESPN, that the world may soon find out the identity of the latest man to win the right to face him.

    Mayweather, who has four fights remaining on his record deal with Showtime, is scheduled to return to the ring on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and several names have been prominently mentioned as potential opponents.

    Here we rank them, from most to least likely, and give you our best assessment of each man's odds of being chosen to win the boxing lottery.

Manny Pacquiao

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    Why He's Here

    Manny Pacquiao's name will be forever linked to Floyd Mayweather unless the two finally decide to put aside their myriad personal differences and fight like men in the ring. The match has lost a good deal of luster in recent years, but it remains the hottest topic in the sport and its most debated conversation piece.

    Therefore, until the fight happens or one of the fighters calls it quits, this fight will remain the elephant in the room.


    Why It'll Happen

    Mayweather is just a little over a month from his 37th birthday, and he only has four fights remaining on his huge contract with Showtime. In the past, he's said he'll retire at the conclusion of the deal, and that leaves a very short window for the issue with Pacquiao to finally be settled.

    Via ESPN, the pound-for-pound king has recently stepped up his personal attacks against the Filipino icon, calling him "desperate" and linking his recent tax problems to a sudden interest in accepting his terms for a bout, which seemed unfair a few years ago.

    For all his talk to the contrary, Mayweather the businessman has to realize that this still remains the highest-profile and biggest money fight in the sport.


    Why It Won't Happen

    Mayweather has long stated that the main impediment to this fight taking place is his unwillingness to do business with Bob Arum and Top Rank, which manages Pacquiao's career. All of that stems from lingering bad blood between the two men after their business relationship went sour some years ago.

    Pacquiao, for his part, has shown no interest in bucking Arum and changing promoters, so this fight is likely DOA.



    While nothing with Mayweather is impossible, you shouldn't bet the farm on this happening any time soon.


Sergio Martinez

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    Why He's Here

    Sergio Martinez is currently the WBC and lineal middleweight champion of the world. He's held that distinction for several years now, and he's still a high-profile name in the sport. Injuries have derailed him a bit in recent years—he suffered year-ending injuries in each of his last two bouts—but "Maravilla" still presents a great deal of risk and reward for Floyd Mayweather should he be selected.


    Why It'll Happen

    Mayweather is a student of his craft, perhaps one of the greatest of all time on that score at least, and he knows what a legacy booster it would be for him to capture, not just a share of, but the legitimate middleweight championship of the world.

    Martinez has previously expressed a willingness to come down as low as 150 pounds, but that would reduce a bit of the allure. The real drama here would be the potential for Mayweather to capture a world title in a sixth weight division.

    And with Martinez's recent injuries and seemingly diminished in-ring ability, it could be the right time.


    Why It Won't Happen

    Mayweather has been clear in the past that he considers a fighter of Martinez's size to be a bridge too far. That's not likely to change. And there's also the complication of Martinez being an HBO fighter and the continued Cold War between HBO and Showtime.



    Highly unlikely. The weight issues and the network spat are too much to overcome. That said, it's still more likely than Pacquiao at this point.


Erislandy Lara

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    Why He's Here

    This is the one fight, among all those being discussed and debated, that many reasonable boxing fans believe Floyd Mayweather could really lose.

    Erislandy Lara is a potentially nightmarish stylistic matchup for the pound-for-pound king, and his length, reach and defensive acumen could very well be too much for Floyd to overcome. A belt-holder at 154 pounds, Lara has long been the most avoided fighter in the division, and he recently dominated fellow avoided fighter Austin Trout on the Malignaggi vs. Judah undercard.


    Why It'll Happen

    Lara is definitely an outside-the-box pick, and Mayweather has shown a desire in the past to throw everyone a collective curveball and do something unexpected. Before settling on Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for his last fight, many felt that Mayweather would view his size and stylistic risks as too great, but we all know how that turned out.

    This could be a similar situation where Floyd bucks convention and chooses the riskiest fight available. 


    Why It Won't Happen

    There are two big problems with this fight, and they're both related. Lara presents a high level of risk without a huge amount of reward.

    Sure, among the hardcore boxing community, Mayweather would receive a ton of credit for taking this fight. But it could well turn out to be a mainstream dud. And that's just too much to risk against a foe who presents this level of danger.



    It would be an extremely intriguing matchup, but Lara is just too high risk/low reward. 


Danny Garcia

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    Why He's Here

    Danny Garcia is the unified junior welterweight champion, and he scored the most impressive victory of his career, over Lucas Matthysse, on the Mayweather vs. Canelo undercard this past September. Young, undefeated and with a personality that screams future star, Garcia is an obvious candidate to square off with Mayweather in the not-too-distant future.

    There's really not much left for him to prove at 140 pounds, and he's shown a willingness in the past to jump north to welterweight. There are a bunch of potentially attractive fights at that weight, but nothing that would compare to the biggest dog on the block.

    And besides, who wouldn't want to see a promotion in which Floyd Mayweather Sr. gets to lock horns with the outspoken, and often inflammatory, Angel Garcia? This guy makes Ruben Guerrero, who repeatedly tried to goad Floyd Sr. into a fight, look like a church choir boy. 


    Why It'll Happen

    Should Garcia continue his express train ride to the top, the question will become less of why it'll happen and more of why it has to happen. "Swift" is young, undefeated and may well be the next guy up in the Golden Boy Promotions pecking order after Canelo Alvarez went down to such ignominious defeat. 

    This has the potential to be one of the biggest fights in the sport, and it is the only realistic option that has a chance of coming near the promotional might of last year's record-setting Mayweather vs. Canelo clash.


    Why It Won't Happen

    Golden Boy Promotions must be getting tired of hyping up their fighters only to see Mayweather not only beat them, but beat them convincingly to the point where you have to question how much was talent and how much was pure hype.

    Garcia is definitely talented, but it might not be in his or his promoter's best interest for this fight to happen now.



    This fight is a definite possibility, but it might not be ripe until later in the year or early in 2015. 


Marcos Maidana

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    Why He's Here

    Marcos Maidana scored one of the bigger upsets of the year in 2013, dominating Floyd Mayweather protege, and self-appointed heir apparent, Adrien Broner on Dec. 14 to capture the WBA Welterweight Championship.

    The victory did more than just give "El Chino" his first world title at welterweight; it may have placed him in line for boxing's premier payday. Mayweather himself singled Maidana out for praise, and as a potential foe, shortly after his big win.


    Why It'll Happen

    Whenever Mayweather mentions you by name, you have reason to be optimistic.

    Maidana is a tough, rugged and physical foe who seems to do his best when the odds are stacked against him. By fighting him, Mayweather would be able to score a measure of revenge for Broner, whom he often affectionately refers to as his "little brother," and show the youngster how it's done.


    Why It Won't Happen

    Broner recently bucked his idol's advice and exercised an immediate rematch clause in his contract with Maidana. That leaves the new champion with a couple of choices. He could accept the rematch and, as a result, defer his pursuit of Mayweather. Or, if he really feels that the bigger fight is a done deal, he could vacate the WBA championship and follow the money.

    Now, the rub is that Broner is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. Mayweather has long worked with but not for GBP, and it's hard to see how or why he'd want to want to blow up their plans for a Maidana vs. Broner rematch.



    Mayweather values his relationship with Golden Boy, and he's not likely to torpedo Broner's rematch and tarnish that partnership. All that said, it's still Floyd Mayweather, and he does what he wants. 


Amir Khan

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    Why He's Here

    If you ask many boxing fans, that's an excellent question. Amir Khan had superstar potential, but he was, at least in the eyes of many, largely exposed as being more talk than actual ability. He does have blazing fast hand speed, perhaps superior to anyone else in the sport, but he's been shown to have one massive fatal flaw.

    Khan's chin has been his downfall—he's been spectacularly and brutally knocked out twice—and he's only won two of his last four fights.

    In his last bout, against the once but not currently relevant Julio Diaz, he had to rise from the canvas to win a surprisingly close decision.


    Why It'll Happen

    Khan, for all his flaws, still presents an attractive opponent for an event of this stature. He's fast with his hands and his mouth, and his in-ring struggles have done nothing to diminish his confidence. He'll draw in a significant number of fans to the arena and on pay-per-view—British fight fans are known for supporting their fighters—and will definitely pull his weight on the promotional front.


    Why It Won't Happen

    Simply put, the fans don't want it.

    Had Khan remained undefeated, or at least not been truck-sticked by Danny Garcia and Breidis Prescott, this would've been a huge fight. As it stands now, Khan is not viewed by mainstream fans as a legitimate threat, and that will definitely hurt this fight where it counts the most: at the box office.



    Short of Mayweather pulling something totally unexpected, this is going to be the fight in May. Like it or not.