Is the pound-for-pound king moving closer to a showdown with Amir Khan?
Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather is one of the worldwide leaders in self-promotion, and last week, the man they call "Money" may have outdone himself.
He announced via his Twitter account that fans can vote on which opponent he will face in his next fight on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, asking them to choose between former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan and current WBA welterweight champion Marcos Maidana.
More than 35,000 fans took the opportunity to voice their preferences, and if Mayweather intends to abide by the result, he will be facing Khan this May in Las Vegas.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Brit was the runaway winner of the poll, snagging just over 4,600 more votes than the Argentine champion.
The result of the poll, while ostensibly reflecting the will of the people, is not likely to be met with great satisfaction by a skeptical boxing community. The mere mention of Khan as a potential foe for Mayweather is enough to put many fans in a snit, and you can't really blame them.
Khan's last two wins came over Julio Diaz and Carlos Molina.
One of the biggest issues raised by boxing fans in opposition to Amir Khan's potential selection has been his recent resume. Or putting it more to the point, his lack of any impressive victories in the recent past has people questioning his credentials.
There's no doubt that he has accomplished a great deal in boxing. He's a former unified junior welterweight world champion and was once considered among the best prospects in the sport.
And it's not like he isn't talented. His hands are as fast as anyone's in the sport, and when he's on his game, he can present a difficult style for any opponent standing across the ring.
But he's just a .500 fighter over his last four contests.
Granted, he's won his last two fights, but those victories weren't against anything close to the level of fighter that should be required to earn a crack at the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport.
Can anyone make the case that beating Julio Diaz—a once good but not great fighter—or Carlos Molina—a former lightweight, not the current IBF junior middleweight champion—qualifies someone to headline a pay-per-view against boxing's premier attraction?
Had Khan remained undefeated, this would have been a huge fight.
But as it stands right now, he hasn't earned this opportunity.
Other than hand speed, Khan is no match for Mayweather.
Let's just forget Amir Khan's recent in-ring history for a minute.
Boxing is the theater of the unexpected, and more than in any other sport, anything can happen whenever two world-class fighters step into the ring.
So how does Khan actually stack up to Floyd Mayweather? And—the more pertinent question—is he a legitimate threat to take away his zero?
Khan does have a world-class set of skills. You could make a case that he has the fastest hands in the sport, and he definitely has one of its biggest hearts. Among his quality wins are many good, and a few very good, opponents.
You don't beat Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi or Marcos Maidana without something more than a flashy personality.
But Khan has an Achilles' heel.
He's been knocked out twice, both in spectacular fashion, against fighters whom he was heavily favored to beat.
You see, the Brit possesses the terrible combination of a shaky chin and a level of confidence that assures him it won't be his undoing. When he gets hurt, instead of holding or trying to get out of Dodge, he convinces himself to fight his way out of trouble.
And that doesn't usually end well.
Mayweather hasn't stopped an opponent since 2011—the infamous Victor Ortiz affair—but he has sneaky power. His punches are so short, precise and quick that they land with more force than he's usually given credit for. Remember, power isn't just about knocking people out.
Given Mayweather's precision and Khan's chin issues, most boxing fans won't view this as much of a challenge from "Money."
After Mayweather easily dispatched Canelo Alvarez, most boxing fans won't view Khan as a pay-per-view-worthy opponent.
To be fair, it'll be very hard for any event to top the promotional might and media saturation of last September's "The One: Mayweather vs. Canelo" pay-per-view from Las Vegas. That thing was a living, breathing monster, and it set all sorts of boxing revenue records, per ESPN.
At the risk of getting many of Mayweather's most ardent supporters in a tizzy, that was largely due to Saul Alvarez.
It had been years since Mayweather had stepped into the ring with a fighter as good and physically threatening as the cinnamon-haired Mexican heartthrob. There was a perception—very real among the fans and media—that this was finally the time that he had bitten off more than he could chew.
Canelo was younger, bigger and stronger. People shelled out their cash to watch on PPV in the hopes of witnessing the crescendo moment of a young superstar's career.
And they got burned.
The fight failed to meet the lofty expectations set during its massive promotional campaign. Mayweather was as brilliant as ever, and regardless of the ridiculously close official scorecards, you could argue that he won every single round.
Boxing fans are smart. Fool them once and they'll be a lot more reluctant to come back—at least when it comes to making them drop upwards of $70 dollars to watch a fight.
The reason that "The One" sold so well was the real sense of danger that Canelo brought with him to the ring. It got people talking about whether or not he'd finally be the guy to dethrone the pound-for-pound king.
Very few, if any, people will be having that conversation when it comes to Amir Khan.
And that's a huge problem.
When Floyd Mayweather signed his record six-fight contract with Showtime last February, he made it very clear that he would be riding off into the sunset at its conclusion.
An Associated Press report (via Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine) from Mayweather's recent trip to South Africa reiterates that he intends to call it a career once his current contract expires in September 2015.
For those who are crossing out days on the calendar, that means that boxing's premier attraction has only four fights remaining in a career that has been as polarizing for fans as any in recent memory.
His most ardent supporters will point to his gaudy record—currently a perfect 45-0—as proof that he's not only the best fighter of his era, but that he belongs in the conversation among the best of all time.
His detractors—of which there are just as many—are quick to point out that he's fought in an era and faced challenges that are nothing compared to those of legendary fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson, Roberto Duran or Muhammad Ali.
And like many of the great debates in sports, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Mayweather is a prodigious talent. In terms of pure boxing ability and in-ring smarts, you'll find few who have ever laced up the gloves who are better. He's patient, studies his opponents' every move and makes the adjustments necessary to neutralize their best weapons and make them look the fool.
But with only four fights remaining in his illustrious Hall of Fame career, should he be spending one of them on Amir Khan?
Would this fight add anything to his overall legacy?
Most boxing fans would say no. And they're right.
This fight does nothing to enhance Mayweather's legacy, and at this point, that's what it should be all about.
Manny Pacquiao remains the elephant in the room.
Enough has been written about a potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to last a few lifetimes. You could take all the paper—or virtual paper in the case of Internet pieces—used to discuss why or why not the fight will happen and stack it to the moon and back.
It has been the dominant conversation piece in boxing for the better part of the last five years and—until it happens, or one guy leaves the sport—it won't go away.
Pacquiao is scheduled to face Timothy Bradley in a rematch of their highly controversial 2012 meeting on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Just under a month later, Mayweather will step into the same ring to face his next opponent.
For both men, their legacies are hopelessly intertwined with each other. Whenever you have two great talents, each with a legitimate claim to all-time status, and they can't find a way to settle the debate in the ring, both get a stain on their resume.
And both deserve their fair share of criticism for the fight not having taken place up to this point.
In 2009, it was reported that Golden Boy Promotions had accused Pacquiao of refusing to agree to Olympic-style blood testing, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. His camp, led by trainer Freddie Roach, denied the allegations, but the potential fight was scrapped.
Then in 2012, Mayweather offered Pacquiao a guaranteed purse of $40 million to fight him, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. But the Filipino turned down the offer, citing the lack of any share of pay-per-view revenue.
Was Pacquiao wrong to drag his heels on drug testing? Absolutely.
Was Mayweather wrong for making Pacquiao an offer that he likely knew would, and probably should, be rejected? Again, absolutely.
Both guys have been in the wrong, and boxing fans are tired of it.
They just want the fight already. Anything less, from either guy, just won't do.