Paulie, Canelo, Golovkin: Crossover Fights for Conor McGregor to Consider

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2017

Paulie, Canelo, Golovkin: Crossover Fights for Conor McGregor to Consider

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Conor McGregor had the most lucrative boxing debut of all time.

    It's safe to say he has more opportunities than any 0-1 fighter coming off a TKO loss.

    Given the skills and mettle he showed while surviving into Round 10 against Floyd Mayweather at the T-Mobile Arena, some of the most frequent themes at the post-fight press conference focused on whether the chatty Irishman would consider a part-time ring gig alongside his full-time MMA commitments.

    UFC boss Dana White seemed less than enthralled with the idea his top seat-filler might have other combat sports possibilities, but McGregor himself left the locker room door wide open.

    "I have many options in mixed martial arts. I'm sure there's options that will present themselves in the boxing game," he said at the post-fight press conference following his loss on Saturday. "But right now I'm a free agent. My name is on the ring. I am certainly open to all options. I am young, I'm fresh and I am ready."

    Given that reality and the number of boxers who'd surely like to deposit a seven-figure paycheck, we came up with a list of possible foes should the Notorious one indeed decide to give boxing another go.

5. Chris van Heerden

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    No one is suggesting Chris van Heerden is a household name.

    Nor is anyone claiming he'd draw more than curious flies on pay-per-view.

    But if Team McGregor is interested in building momentum on the way to setting up its next big ring score, perhaps the unheralded South African would be worth a feel-out phone call.

    The 30-year-old has been largely anonymous across an 11-year pro career, but he does have some street cred in the form of a brief run as the IBO's champion at welterweight. He also served as McGregor's sparring mate in the video that first convinced some folks the Mayweather fight was a worthwhile investment.

    Van Heerden, like another entry later on this list, claimed Conor and Co. picked and chose the footage they released from the session in order to make the Irishman look better. He even offered to return to McGregor's camp to "beat him up" if they were in need of additional training assistance.

    That bad blood alone is enough to warrant the match. If McGregor can't handle the likes of Van Heerden, he should abandon the idea of being a boxer anyway.

4. Adrien Broner

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Let's face it: These days, Adrien Broner is just hoping to stay relevant.

    The former four-division champ known as The Problem has fallen on hard career times of late, most recently thanks to a one-sided decision defeat to 140-pound novice Mikey Garcia on July 29 in Brooklyn.

    It was Broner's third loss in nine fights since beginning his career at 27-0, leaving him far off the pound-for-pound lists whose top spots he'd long coveted and far closer to making outlandish challenges just to keep his name in the mainstream mix.

    Case in point: He said he'd have been happy to meet McGregor conqueror Nate Diaz on the "Money Fight" undercard in Las Vegas, a suggestion that came several months after he claimed McGregor wouldn't last a round if he ventured into a ring against a top-flight boxer.

    A fight of his own with McGregor, though maybe perilous given Saturday's goings-on, would also give a jolt back to the headlines if Broner were to find a way to win.

3. Amir Khan

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    It's big because he's a familiar name.

    It's bigger because of where he's from.

    Indeed, while the prospect of an Amir Khan bout against McGregor might not stand the hairs of Las Vegas fight fans on end, the idea that the Englishman could meet the Irishman on his home turf is another matter entirely.

    Khan was at the T-Mobile Arena to see Mayweather's KO victory, and he was quick to praise the beaten man's effort in the aftermath, telling iFL TV (h/t the Daily Star) that McGregor "fought like a lion" and "boxed well."

    Before the fight, Khan had said he was open to a match with McGregor and that staging it in a European venue would make it even more significant...and perilous.

    "You'd take it because it's a big name," Khan said. "To do a fight like that in the UK would be massive. I'd even go to Ireland and fight him there. You might beat him in the ring, but walking out of the ring might be a bit of an issue."

2. Gennady Golovkin/Canelo Alvarez Winner

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The shortest path between McGregor and another truly significant financial ring score traces back to the site of his Saturday debut.

    Middleweights Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will meet in the same T-Mobile Arena ring come Sept. 16, and it's no stretch to suggest the winner that night might just call McGregor's name when HBO's Max Kellerman asks him what's next on the agenda.

    Alvarez's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, floated the idea of a McGregor-Alvarez match several months ago. He then spent the days prior to the Mayweather-McGregor event childishly lamenting (warning: NSFW language) the fact that the Golovkin-Alvarez fight was being ignored in favor of the Money Fight circus.

    Several analysts suggested after Saturday's fight that a McGregor date with either Golovkin or Alvarez could be a $50 million proposition, while conceding that the style the Irishman used while fencing the smaller Mayweather would provide little resistance against a strong, aggressive 160-pounder.

    McGregor, though, apparently doesn't think much of either.

    "Canelo and Golovkin, I'm not really too much of a fan of either of those," he said. "I think Canelo's a little bit stuck, a little bit flat on his feet. When I watch footage of him I just see him getting peppered—he has no feet under him. ... So, although they're supposedly up there as well, I don't really think they are."

1. Paulie Malignaggi

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    Perhaps the only person happier than Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night was Paulie Malignaggi.

    The former two-division champ became part of the Money Fight narrative when he agreed to spar with McGregor. He then became a headline thanks to a he-said/he-said spat over supposedly parsed video footage of the sessions and an allegedly illegitimate knockdown that occurred in one of them.

    He challenged McGregor to a real fight shortly after the dust-up, suggesting St. Patrick's Day as a possible date, and then said in Showtime's post-fight coverage that he hopes the beaten man does indeed feel confident enough to warrant another venture into the squared circle.

    Las Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Shapiro got out in front of the idea on Twitter on Sunday, installing Malignaggi as a minus-180 favorite to McGregor's plus-160 underdog.

    Malignaggi, never the wallflower, was already banging the drum as well.

    "Why not?" he told iFL TV during its post-fight coverage (via BloodyElbow.com).

    "That's the easiest money I can make. Are you kidding me? He's not very likable. ... Everything I said came true tonight. I said, early on he's going to get through it and he can give you confusing looks early on. Then, when you start breaking him down, he's not the gutsiest guy."

    Gentlemen, start your press tours.