The two biggest names in boxing, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, still have never squared off in the ring—and perhaps they never will. But one thing is for certain: Both men are running out of viable opponents to fight.
When New York native Chris Algieri agreed to terms to fight Pacquiao in China on November 22, fans must have questioned the decision.
While Algieri did have an impressive, but narrow, win over another Freddie Roach trainee, Ruslan Provodnikov, it was hardly enough to merit a fight with one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in boxing.
Algieri is a great story. He has an undergraduate degree from Stony Brook and a master's from the New York Institute of Technology. He clearly doesn’t have to fight for money but does so for the love of the sport.
Before defeating Provodnikov on HBO, Algieri had limited TV exposure and was a relatively unknown name in the sport. But that changed once he flipped the script on the "Siberian Rocky" and became a Rocky-type story of his own.
Algieri will look to continue his success and try to show that his performance was not a fluke. He will have to prove that he deserves to be in the same ring with Pacquiao.
And this is where the problem occurs: People still don’t think he’s done enough to earn a shot at the Filipino slugger just because he pulled out a controversial split-decision win in June.
For Top Rank and Bob Arum, this will be a difficult fight to sell. Algieri is still unknown to many, which means fans will be reluctant to pay $60 to $70 on the pay-per-view fight. Furthermore, neither guy trash talks, which sometimes can help with the promotional aspect.
Additionally, Algieri’s style is not one that pleases the fans. He is a boxer, a guy who will stick a jab and move out of the way.
For Pacquiao he likes a fighter who is going to engage in the action and throw a lot of punches to get into a war. This is where a Provodnikov win would have benefited Top Rank and the pay-per-view aspect. Provodnikov was more marketable and provided a better style for Pacquiao.
Mayweather is fighting a familiar opponent in Marcos Maidana. The fight provided tremendous action the first time around, but was it enough to elicit a second fight? Perhaps one of the reasons the rematch was made was because there were limited options from which to choose.
But despite that, chances are this fight will sell better than the Pacquiao fight because of the animosity between the two camps and the name recognition of Maidana. If Mayweather takes care of business as usual, then he will once again have a sparse field of opponents from which to choose.
Amir Khan has been eager to fight the pound-for-pound champ, but that’s still a fight that a lot of fans don’t want to see because of his suspect chin. Moreover, Khan hasn’t been overly impressive in some of his recent fights to grant him a fight with Mayweather.
Then there have been talks about a possible rematch with Miguel Cotto. That would be an interesting fight, but one that won’t likely happen because of weight differences now.
There are some young opponents that have the potential to win "the Mayweather sweepstakes," including Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. But do any of these guys have enough experience to provide a true test for Mayweather?
Lastly, we have to turn to Pacquiao: The name that all casual boxing fans know; the second-biggest draw in the sport. But as we know, it has been a virtually impossible task to get both of these guys in the ring.
However, it seems both fighters are running out of opponents. Could that mean we will see these guys throw down, finally?
Mayweather did say he has a surprise for May 2015. Could it mean what we think it might?
According to an interview I conducted with Freddie Roach, he said “The thing is, who Mayweather is going to fight next? Who is Pacquiao going to fight next? The well is getting dry, there are not too many guys out there who can sell pay-per-view and do those big fights."
Roach said he told one of his best friends “every big fight has happened at some point, and I just hope this one doesn’t go too late. I hope this one comes sooner than later."
And for fans, the sentiment seems to be the same. Let’s just hope Roach is right. And since both men are running out of opponents, this will result in this mega fight finally happening.