By Ivan G. Goldman
Floyd Mayweather can feed us all the bogus information he likes, but if he doesn’t take on Robert Guerrero after all, I’d prefer he went after the opponent everyone has been talking about for years — Manny Pacquiao.
WBC light middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez would be another great match. More on that later.
The fact that Juan Manuel Marquez kayoed Pac-man in December with a shot heard round the world changed the equation considerably when it comes to the dream Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown that never happened, but it didn’t change everything. We always knew the right punch could take out the fighting Philippines Congressman. He’d been stopped before. It makes him more exciting to watch. Wily Floyd has twisted himself into a pretzel not to make that fight, which is one reason it remains tantalizing.
I mean really, who would fans prefer to see in there across from Mayweather? Pacquiao? Or Devon Alexander? (the latest name floated by Floyd)
For weeks Floyd has been feeding us occasional chatter that strongly implied he would fight Guerrero on May 4 in Las Vegas. It would be an excellent match. But this week Mayweather tweeted that negotiations are almost completed for a welterweight unification fight with IBF titlist Alexander instead. Mayweather’s WBC title would also be on the line.
The tweet may very well have been a negotiating ploy to bargain Guerrero down on his asking price. If the Alexander match were as close to a done deal as Mayweather said, how come the IBF never heard of it? Alexander at this point is supposed to defend his belt against undefeated Englishman Kell Brook, but he’s suffered biceps trouble that’s postponed the event twice already. Of course he’d earn far more loot against Mayweather and also have a shot at chiseling his name in boxing history. But if he’s okay for May, that means he’s faking an injury to pull out of another fight. That just doesn’t sound like him.
Mayweather, who apparently has no promotional contracts with anybody, doesn’t have a big public-relations apparatus behind him to clarify matters, though sometimes publicists and promoters do more to block accurate information than to send it out, especially in the midst of delicate negotiations.
Guerrero holds one of those “interim” titles that the alphabet gangs have been passing out in exchange for additional sanctioning fees extracted from fighters. His happens to have the imprint of the WBA. Its real title holder is Paulie Malignaggi, who is in fact shopping for an opponent. Paulie is a terrific boxer and mover, but he doesn’t have the power to get Mayweather’s respect, and though he’s got plenty of New York fans, it’s questionable whether the promoters could sell that match to the public.
There’s speculation that either Alexander or Malignaggi would be an excellent tune-up for the pound-for-pound king. I’m not sure I’d classify the talented Alexander as a tune-up, but his loss to Bradley two years ago is still a drag on his reputation. Besides which, Mayweather, who fights only once a year or so, would have an extremely difficult task marketing anything that even smells like a tune-up. How much more are fans supposed to take?
Mayweather could possibly get away with taking on a lesser opponent in May as long as fans know he will face hard-hitting, hugely popular Canelo next. Insiders have raised the possibility of an Alvarez-Mayweather showdown in September. At this point fan-friendly Alvarez is supposed to compete on the undercard of the tentative May 4 card in Las Vegas. But would you really trust Mayweather’s promise to fight Canelo later in the year if he hasn’t signed an iron-clad contract to do so? The potential for bait-and-switch is approximately the size of the Grand Canyon.
Big pay-per-view cards require plenty of marketing time. Floyd’s having a fine old time keeping everyone guessing, but with less than three months to go between now and May 4, he and his people must move soon or give up the date. At age 36 he may not have as much career left as he seems to think.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE