Let's be honest here. There's approximately, oh....one man who anyone outside of the most hard-core boxing fans actually wants to see Floyd Mayweather fight. His name is Manny Pacquiao. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot out there that would actually raise the pulse of the casual observer. But for the sake of fodder, let's throw out some other names who might make intriguing match-ups with Mayweather for one reason or another. And let's pray that none of them actually fight him before the man at the top of the list.
-Chavez is the most famous last name in Mexican boxing.
-He has a following bigger than any up-and-coming American fighter.
-He boasts legitimate advantages in size and youth.
-He has a belt at 160 lbs., a weight class where Floyd has yet to win a belt.
-Mayweather-Chavez has a certain ring to it.
-He lacks world-class skills and would be seen as an utterly inferior, totally undeserving opponent.
-His belt wasn't won by defeating the legitimate champion Sergio Martinez; it was basically handed to him through a series of shady decisions by the sanctioning body, the WBC, and he still almost lost to Sebastian Zbik. The belt is meaningless to all knowledgeable boxing observers.
-Because other than my half-serious suggestion, since there's not as many legit Floyd opponents as you might think, Mayweather-Chavez is not even a remote possibility anytime soon.
-Bradley is rugged, undefeated, young and in his prime.
-Bradley is one of the consensus "two best" fighters at 140 lbs., the division directly beneath welterweight where Mayweather fights.
-Bradley has been a top-10 pound-for-pound guy for some time.
-First of all, where the hell is Tim Bradley anyway?
-Bradley still hasn't vanquished his biggest potential rival, Amir Khan, and until he does so, I would consider him undeserving of a fight this massive.
-Does anyone actually think this would be a good fight? The styles seem to mesh terribly, and I can envision Floyd putting on a clinic against a smaller, slower fighter in Bradley.
-Margarito and Cotto are two of the fighters most consistently mentioned as guys that Mayweather has "ducked".
-Cotto is the top-ranked fighter at 154 lbs., one division above where Mayweather resides.
-Margarito and Cotto are still two of the biggest names in the sport, particularly Cotto, probably the most popular boxer in this country outside of Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
-Margarito and Cotto are both a bit shopworn, and frankly, that's probably an understatement. They have seen better days, and a win over either one at this point for Mayweather probably wouldn't stop anyone from saying he avoided them in their prime. On the other hand, Pacquiao's had a recent trend of feasting on Mayweather's leftovers. This could be Mayweather's turn for sloppy seconds.
-They are both with Top Rank Promotions, and if Mayweather is going to fight a Top Rank fighter...it sure as hell better be you know who.
-Khan is the top-ranked fighter at 140 lbs.
-He has a solid following of British fans.
-He is strong, fast and in his prime.
-They both run with Golden Boy Promotions, so it's an easy fight to make.
-I'm still not convinced Khan has done enough to warrant such a lofty shot. I suppose if the faded carcass of Antonio Margarito can still get mega-fights against Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, then Khan's as deserving as the next man. But ideally, I'd like to see Khan beat Tim Bradley first. If that can't happen, go up to 147 and fight Victor Ortiz if he loses to Mayweather. Basically, I think he's still one big win away from truly earning it (a multi-million dollar payday and a chance to unseat one of the sport's best two fighters).
-Alvarez is one of the sport's budding superstars, with increasing popularity amongst the rabid Mexican fans.
-He's a skilled boxer/puncher who looks better each time out.
-He's young, undefeated and coming into his prime.
-He's one of the top fighters and a belt-holder at 154 lbs.
-Golden Boy Promotions
-Alvarez is probably still a bit too green for this assignment. He really hasn't beaten any world-class, elite fighters.
-Alvarez has other big-money fights, and we know Mayweather does. Alvarez can fight less-risky opponents and have a better chance at preserving his 0 in the loss column.
-The belt at stake would be entirely of the paper variety. Floyd already won a belt in this division when he beat Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
-Ortiz should not be underestimated. He can win the fight on September 17. Mayweather, while a supreme technician, is also a world-class athlete with lightning quick reflexes. Those advantages that have been so instrumental in his undefeated run will only subside as time goes by. No man defies Father Time, not even "Money" Mayweather.
-Ortiz is a crowd pleasing action fighter. He's very aggressive and throws a ton of punches. There's a decent chance that this might be a good, close fight, and people will want a second helping. If Ortiz somehow pulls off the shocking upset, you have to imagine a rematch will happen. But I can see another scenario where maybe Ortiz scores a knockdown, fights tough and loses a 7-5 split decision and people want to see a rematch for a more decisive outcome. Either way, I don't want to overlook or discount the possibility that the unexpected happens on September 17 and turns Mayweather's calendar upside-down.
-The 6 to 1 odds indicate a widespread belief that Mayweather is just too experienced, too skilled and just plain too good to lose to a guy as raw and, at times, sloppy as Ortiz.
-If Mayweather does comfortably get past Ortiz, there will be no reason to see this fight again. I don't however think that it buries Ortiz's career. He still has potential barnburners ahead of him with rematches against Berto and Maidana, and someday, we'd all like to see that long-simmering feud between Ortiz and stablemate Brandon Rios settled in the ring.
-Martinez has joined Mayweather and Pacquiao as the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing with a recent run of dominance over top-notch foes.
-He is the legitimate middleweight champion of the world. This would be a chance for Mayweather to claim a lineal title in his fourth weight class (he was the man at 135 and 147; after some careful research, I'm going to go ahead and say that he was also legit champ at 130...there's not really conclusive data and there's mixed reports, but Brian Kenny said so, so that's good enough for me. If anyone wants to further discuss that, we can elaborate in the comments section).
-Beating a fighter as good as Martinez and winning that lineal crown would be a serious feather in the cap of Mayweather's already hall-of-fame resume.
-Martinez has size, power, athleticism and a fighting spirit. He's very quick himself. I would have to imagine he would be a solid favorite against Mayweather.
-Because Mayweather is the draw and Martinez the B-side, Sergio's team would likely concede to a catch-weight possibly as low as 155 lbs, giving Floyd the favorable chance to win the middleweight title from the champion who has to weigh in five pounds below the limit.
-Martinez is perceived as very good and very dangerous, and he has little to offer financially to a fighter of Mayweather's popularity and status. Unfortunately "pride" doesn't make fights; dollars make fights. This fight is highly unlikely to ever happen, at least not while either guy is in some semblance of his prime.
-Hmmm, how do I put this delicately? The fact that this mega-fight hasn't happened yet is indicative of everything that is wrong with the sport. It hits every imaginable category of why a fight should be made: best vs. best, two biggest stars, good vs. evil, boxer vs. brawler, righty vs. southpaw, American vs. foreigner, etc, etc, etc...
-$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ (both guys make a lot of it without each other).
-There's no good reason why it shouldn't happen. Why it may not happen boils down to money, control, fear and pride. That's been thoroughly examined and detailed over the past year. But let's not forget about another potential roadblock, which wouldn't ruin just the Pacquiao fight but could threaten Mayweather's entire career: Floyd's mounting legal woes. He still faces criminal charges, and when all is said and done, might even be looking at prison time.