The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Dec. 23

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2013

The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Dec. 23

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    Floyd Mayweather seems to be involved in every boxing story in some way or another.
    Floyd Mayweather seems to be involved in every boxing story in some way or another.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    If you're wondering what that feeling is, it's the hangover effect of not having any boxing to watch this past weekend.

    But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to talk about. 

    We have more speculation about a potential new entrant into the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes, some blunt advice from Mayweather to his protege Adrien Broner and the speculation about Manny Pacquiao's next foe. Hint, it's not going to be Mayweather.

    All that and our assessment of the Fighter of the Year contenders and a year-end warning about boxing's continued issues with performance-enhancing drugs.

    These are the hottest boxing storylines for the last full week of 2013!

Has Marcos Maidana Jumped to the Head of the Floyd Mayweather Line?

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    Maidana's demolition of Adrien Broner has some people talking a fight with Floyd Mayweather.
    Maidana's demolition of Adrien Broner has some people talking a fight with Floyd Mayweather.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Marcos Maidana may have done more than silence the trash talk coming out of Broner's mouth last Saturday night, he might have also entered his name into boxing's equivalent of the lottery. 

    In a sweeping interview with Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazinepound-for-pound king Mayweather dished on many topics—including his next big fight—and explained that, as a result of his performance, Maidana has entered the "lottery jackpot box" for an opportunity to secure the next chance to take his zero.

    That's obviously welcome news for the new WBA welterweight champion.

    The opportunity to fight Mayweather would easily guarantee him the biggest payday of his career, and it would give him a high-profile stage on which to enhance his stock as a fighter, even if he should—as probably everyone will think—lose. 

    The question for boxing fans now becomes: Would you rather see Mayweather face Maidana, or the man who has been most recently linked to being the front-runner for the fight—Amir Khan?

    Khan defeated Maidana by narrow unanimous decision back in 2010—arguably his most impressive performance as a pro—but the two fighters have been on opposite trajectories since. Khan is just 4-2 in his bouts since, including a dramatic blowout by Danny Garcia, while Maidana has won six of his past seven. 

    The recent Broner victory may have been just the thing to put Maidana over the top. But as always, the ball is in Floyd's court, and he loves to surprise. 

Will Adrien Broner Take His Mentor's Advice?

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    Mayweather says that Broner has a lot to learn.
    Mayweather says that Broner has a lot to learn.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Broner talked a lot about how he was the next Mayweather.

    He talked, and talked, and talked some more. 

    But then something unexpected happened on the way to his coronation.

    He lost.

    But it was more than just a loss. It was an embarrassing display from beginning to end. Everything from his disrespectful nature during the promotion, to his antics in the ring and then his running out without an interview when the scorecards were announced.

    Predictably, it seems that there aren't many fans willing to give "The Problem" a pass for how he handled everything about the Maidana fight. He has rubbed so many the wrong way, and he hasn't built up the goodwill necessary to get off without criticism for his performance.

    Broner, perhaps sensing the wounds he's inflicted on himself, has been forthcoming about his desire for an immediate rematch. He also issued an apology for his decision to not stick around to discuss his first loss in the ring. 

    As for his mentor, the pound-for-pound king has been very candid about what he feels is best for Broner going forward, and it isn't a rematch or even a continued campaign at welterweight.

    The one and only Mayweather has advised his protege to not seek out a second crack at the Argentine, but instead to return to 140 pounds and fight a solid opponent on the undercard of his presumed May 3 bout at the MGM Grand. 

    He also bluntly pointed out that his protege has a lot to learn going forward.

    Whether or not Broner heeds this call remains to be seen, but it's probably the wisest course of action.

Will We Get a Manny Pacquiao Announcement Before the New Year?

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    An announcement of Manny Pacquiao's next foe could be forthcoming.
    An announcement of Manny Pacquiao's next foe could be forthcoming.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Pacquiao successfully returned from a stunning defeat and a long layoff to easily outpoint the tough but limited Brandon Rios in late November. But unfortunately for the Filipino sensation, the news he's been making of late has been much more troubling.

    Pacquiao reportedly has had an $18.3 million lien placed on him by the United States Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes from fights in 2008 and 2009. This came on the heels of reports that he also owes the Philippine government $50 million and has had his accounts frozen pending a review.

    Those problems are obviously something he'll need to work out, but on the fight front is where we must focus, and we could be coming closer to an announcement about the next for the "Pacman."

    Pacquiao will reportedly return to the ring on April 12, and his options seem to be dwindling.

    The most likely scenarios seemed to have him facing one of the triad that includes former foes Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley or newly crowned junior welterweight belt-holder Ruslan Provodnikov. 

    Marquez has previously been insistent that he would not entertain the notion of a fifth bout with Pacquiao and reiterated that as recently as this past weekend.

    As for Provodnikov, while he'd be a fresh face, both he and Pacquiao are trained by Freddie Roach and have been very chummy in the past. It seems more likely that he's headed toward a fight with Rios sometime next year.

    That would seem to leave Bradley—who got a hotly disputed decision win over Pacquiao and a more convincing one over Marquez—as the only logical choice. 

    It's a fight that seemed to be something of a sham when it was floated in the wake of their first fight, but given how drastically circumstances have changed, it could be one of the best in the sport today.

Who Will Take Home Fighter of the Year Honors?

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    Were Mayweather's wins over Guerrero and Canelo enough to propel him to Fighter of the Year honors?
    Were Mayweather's wins over Guerrero and Canelo enough to propel him to Fighter of the Year honors?Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    It was one hell of a 2013 in boxing. With all the major fights now dispensed with, we turn our attention to awards season, and one of the most hotly contested trophies will be awarded to the Fighter of the Year.

    Does it go to Mayweather, who returned from a year-long absence to easily outpoint Robert Guerrero and then virtually shut out Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in the highest-grossing fight in boxing history?

    How about Adonis Stevenson, who burst on the scene with a crushing first-round knockout of Chad Dawson to claim the light heavyweight title and then followed it up with stoppages of Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew? "Superman" has already claimed the Sports Illustrated Fighter of the Year award for 2013.

    What about Gennady Golovkin? The Kazakh terminator began the year by rearranging the face of tough contender Gabriel Rosado and then knocked out Nobuhiro Ishida, Matthew Macklin and Curtis Stevens in succession.

    You can't go wrong with Mikey Garcia either. The 26-year-old captured a featherweight championship in January by blitzing Orlando Salido at Madison Square Garden. He followed that up with a pair of even more impressive victories over former world champion Juan Manuel Lopez and Rocky Martinez to capture a super featherweight world title. 

    And then there's Bradley. "Desert Storm" finally put the Pacquiao debacle behind him with a pair of impressive victories over high-level opposition. Bradley rose from the canvas to decision Provodnikov in March and then scored the biggest—at least without controversy—victory of his career over Marquez in October.

    All of these fighters—and more—have distinguished themselves this year, and you can make a compelling case for why all deserve to hoist the trophy.

Will Boxing Get Serious About PEDs in 2014?

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    Brandon Rios became the latest fighter to fail a post-fight drug test.
    Brandon Rios became the latest fighter to fail a post-fight drug test.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Boxing, like nearly all professional sports, has been forced to confront the use of performance-enhancing drugs. These include not just anabolic steroids but also diuretics which can be used as masking agents or to help fighters cut weight for fights.

    As a combat sport, boxing needs to be especially conscious of PED usage and find ways to stamp it out.

    In baseball, if you take steroids, you may hit the ball a little farther or throw the ball a little faster. Home run numbers can go up and so can strikeouts. Overall, though, for all their perceived evils, the chances of physical harm coming to the participants as a result—while not zero—is substantially less than in boxing or MMA. 

    In those sports, the goal is to hurt your opponent. To knock him down, keep him down for the count or force him to quit. The extra concussive force added to a punch could be the—literal—difference between life and death.

    In the aftermath of his lopsided decision loss to Pacquiao, Rios became just the latest in a string of high-profile boxers over the past couple of years to test positive for a banned substance while participating in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) program. 

    In this particular case, dimenthylamylamine (which was found in Rios' sample) can aid in weight loss and has been found in many over-the-counter supplements that aid in building muscle mass. 

    Rios has vehemently denied the accusations and maintained his innocence. And that's not to say he isn't telling the truth, but his story isn't all that different from other athletes who have been snagged by tests in the past.

    This is a serious problem in boxing, and until there exists some sort of strict, universal standard for testing, it will only continue to grow. And unless boxing gets serious, it could end in tragedy.