Hoping to see the self-proclaimed best fighter ever face top competition later this year? Be prepared to be disappointed.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. seems intent on facing a lackluster opponent in September.
After finally defeating longtime rival Manny Pacquiao in May, the world’s best boxer suggested to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael that he’ll face one of two unheralded welterweights in September: Karim Mayfield, a fighter who lost two of three fights in 2014, or Andre Berto, someone not too far removed from being knocked out by journeyman Jesus Soto Karass.
In the meantime, a desperately-seeking-attention Amir Khan has gone out of his way to pressure Mayweather into choosing him for September instead. Khan recently told FightHype.com’s Ben Thompson that Mayweather must believe he is just too dangerous:
I mean, the first thing is that he must definitely see me as a dangerous opponent if he doesn't want to fight me. It seems like Floyd is definitely avoiding me. He's all about money, so he knows financially it's the biggest fight out there for him. It's the biggest fight out there for him and it's the most dangerous fight out there for him. I mean, everyone is talking about it already.
Obviously, Khan’s assertions are ridiculous. Khan has been knocked out twice in his career, by Breidis Prescott in 2008 and Danny Garcia in 2012. He’s avenged neither, and there’s nothing in his career since to suggest that he’d do anything against Mayweather except be walked down and countered into oblivion.
But perhaps more ludicrous than even Khan’s silly claims is Mayweather’s intention, if we are to take him at his word, of fighting either Mayfield or Berto next.
Both fighters would be better suited as sparring partners for Mayweather than actual competitors. Neither has done anything to deserve the fight, nor does either man possess any attribute that might give Mayweather problems.
Mayweather should fight a credible opponent in September, but no one has yet suggested who deserves the bout by any reasonable standard.
Mayweather should face either Kell Brook or Erislandy Lara.
If you follow the sport closely enough, you should almost immediately ascertain why these men would be the two best options.
Why is that important?
Both ranking organizations, comprised primarily of writers and historians, attempt to track lineal boxing championships, more or less, and both do a reasonably acceptable job of it in comparison to alphabet organizations like the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO.
According to both, Mayweather is the lineal champion at both 147 and 154 pounds. Also according to both, a better option for Mayweather’s September bout than any yet proposed would have to be the welterweight Brook or junior middleweight Lara.
Neither has been mentioned all that much by the boxing media as Mayweather's next fight.
Mayweather is a more natural welterweight at this stage of his career than anything. His last three fights have been in that class, and he will likely finish his career competing at 147 pounds.
Brook is ranked the No. 1 contender at 147 by Ring. He’s ranked No. 3 by the TBRB behind the already-vanquished Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. While Bradley might have a legitimate case for the fight, Brook is undefeated and appears to have the combination of strength, speed and skill to give Mayweather a run for his money.
Brook, age 29, might just be the best welterweight in the world right now, and he also holds the only legitimate alphabet strap at the weight Mayweather does not currently possess: the IBF title.
The title unification would be more important historically than any other bout Mayweather could choose at 147 pounds, and the U.K.'s Brook would help make the fight very appealing to those watching across the pond.
Meanwhile, Lara is probably the most legitimate threat left at either weight who could present Mayweather serious problems on fight night. The long-armed southpaw’s Cuban style would be a nightmare for Mayweather to figure out using his traditional counterpunching approach and might force the 38-year-old American to open up offensively.
That, of course, would play right into Lara’s hands, a fast-handed, accurate puncher who loves to move around the ring and counter his opponent from a distance. He’s naturally larger than Mayweather and is younger and closer to his prime at age 32.
Lara is ranked No. 2 at junior middleweight by both Ring and the TBRB behind Canelo Alvarez, whom Mayweather already defeated in 2013. He remains the consensus best fighter Mayweather has not yet faced at 154 pounds.
Mayweather will be seeking career victory No. 49 in September, daring to match popular heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 benchmark before he decides whether to continue his stalwart fighting career.
A refusal to meet a noteworthy competitor should not tarnish a potential 49th victory. With both Brook and Lara available and likely more than willing to accept the largest payday of their fighting careers to date, there’s simply no reason to look anywhere else.
Mayweather should fight Brook or Khan in September.
Kelsey McCarson, a member of the TBRB, also contributes to TheSweetScience.com and BoxingChannel.tv. Undefeated junior middleweight Jermell Charlo punched him numerous times last year for charity.