by Hans Olson
With all signs indicating that Manny Pacquiao will not be the one fighting Floyd Mayweather on May 5, 2012, let’s take a look at a number of potential foes for the number one fighter in the world, pound for pound.
Photos By Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
The Top 3
1. Sergio Martinez
Simply put, Sergio Martinez is the best fighter in the world not named Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. In the eyes of some—myself included—Sergio is an even better fighter than Manny Pacquiao. Martinez is a natural Jr. Middleweight , who is fighting a division higher at Middleweight where he holds the division’s lineal Championship. Sergio has stated time and time again that he would be willing to drop even further below his natural weight—as low as 150—to make this fight a reality. If Floyd wants to make a statement to the boxing world, he will do so by taking up this challenge from Sergio Martinez. Floyd would be in total control of the negotiation, which wouldn’t be difficult. Speaking with Lou Dibella a few weeks ago in Quebec City, Lou told me that Sergio would take USADA testing. It’s a fight many boxing fans would be interested in, one where the odds wouldn’t be overwhelmingly in Floyd’s favor. The downside? Although it’s an attractive fight to hardcore fight fans, your casual sports fan in America isn’t aware of Sergio Martinez, and the overall size disparity may prove to be a deciding factor when all is said and done.
2. Amir Khan
Amir Khan is one of boxing’s fastest growing stars. In the UK, his popularity soars higher with each passing day. In the United States, Golden Boy Promotions has done a fantastic job building the Khan brand by putting him in quality fights in different markets (New York City, Las Vegas, and now DC in Dec). Both Amir Khan and his trainer Freddie Roach have expressed their desire to campaign at Welterweight after the Lamont Peterson fight next month in Washington, DC. If Amir wins as many expect him to, I can see a high probability of this fight happening. The connection with Golden Boy would make for smooth negotiations, and the UK flair would add a certain level of intrigue as well. Thousands upon thousands of fans traveled from the UK a few years back when Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton challenged Floyd; a similar situation could happen with a Khan fight. There is also the interesting theory that Floyd would be willing to fight in the UK, where he himself is very popular. I have a hard time seeing that happen in May though, with a date already set aside at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Additionally, Khan has also said he would like to have a few fights at 147 before Floyd…so next Fall might be more likely that we see a Mayweather/Khan bout.
3. Victor Ortiz
Victor Ortiz remains somewhat of an attractive option for Floyd to pursue. Although Victor was being badly outclassed by Floyd through much of the 4 rounds they fought, the fight’s controversial ending left many of Victor’s fans angry and disappointed. A rematch might not be as far fetched as one would think. Immediately after the fight, Floyd proclaimed “if he wants a rematch, he can get a rematch!” I know that Floyd Mayweather would welcome it, Victor Ortiz would welcome it…but would most of the buying public welcome it? That’s the question. Did Victor Ortiz show just enough in the first 4 rounds of the fight to leave doubt as to what could have happened had the fight gone on longer? I’m not so sure. I think Floyd beats Victor Ortiz regardless of any circumstance. There is also of course the Victor Ortiz/Andre Berto rematch that has been rumored. If that happens, a fight with Floyd Mayweather in May seems less likely. Speaking of Andre Berto…
“Hay” Men: Advisor Al Haymon wields a lot of power on the inside. Along with Floyd Mayweather, he also advises Paul Williams and the aforementioned Andre Berto. If you’ve followed Haymon’s moves over the years, he rarely matches his guys against one another. Unless public demand becomes so great (not likely for Paul Williams, more likely if Berto were to beat Ortiz in a rematch), it’s doubtful either fighter gets the shot at Floyd.
Top Rankers: The winner of Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito would certainly be an attractive fight, as would Julio Cesar Jr. if he gets through Peter Manfredo Jr. this Saturday. Heck, maybe even the winner of Mike Jones vs. Sebastian Lujan would be interesting. Tim Bradley too. The problem, is that all of these guys fight under the banner of Top Rank…a major, major issue when it comes to fighting Floyd Mayweather. Or is it? Floyd’s team could send another message to Pacquiao…that it’s only Pacquiao holding up the fight, and not Arum. t’s not likely…but those names are there.
Golden Boys: Devon Alexander, Saul Alvarez, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Erik Morales, and Lucas Matthysse are all guys who could conceivably get the shot at Floyd. All are with Golden Boy Promotions, which would make the negotiation process easy. It’s tough to say who would be best suited for Floyd— I could see any of these guys being matched with “Money.” The questions? There are many. Would Floyd be too much too soon for guys like Alvarez or Alexander? Would Floyd be too much of a favorite over guys like Malignaggi, Maidana, Matthysse, and Morales?
The rest: There are always other names that come up when Floyd’s negotiating a fight, or rumored to be. Guys like Nate Campbell, and Zab Judah still come up, as does Paul Spadafora, Matthew Hatton, and even Ricky Hatton!
Speaking of retired fighters…Oscar De La Hoya’s name has even been mentioned! Anything is possible in boxing I suppose…but I don’t think any of these names are a realistic possibility for May 5. European fighters like Kell Brook, Jan Zaveck, and Vyacheslav Senchenko are all fine fighters…but are also unlikely to land the May 5 Mayweather lottery.
The winner of Selcuk Aydin vs. Jo Jo Dan would be a mandatory to Floyd’s WBC Welterweight Championship, though it’s highly unlikely that either would get the shot at Floyd, despite the talent level of both Selcuk and Jo Jo.
Which brings me to my final wildcard pick.
This fight makes more sense than many might realize. Think about Kirkland’s recent performance against Alfredo Angulo. Compare it to Victor Ortiz and his with Andre Berto back in April. Think about where both fighters were. Think about HBO’s investment in each, and their similar nature in how the network has pushed each. It’s a very similar situation. Considering that, one wonders if Floyd’s team are thinking in a similar fashion.
“24/7” is in desperate need for some fresh faces to get the reality treatment. Floyd Mayweather has been the only interesting thing about the show in recent years. At the very least, a guy like Kirkland and his trainer Anne Wolf would offer some good reality TV. It’s a very sellable fight…and one that I wouldn’t mind seeing. Oh yeah, and he’s with Golden Boy…always a good sign when it comes to negotiating a Floyd fight. Kirkland’s demeanor starkly contrasts that of Floyd. The fight could be marketed in so many ways…
Still, there are many questions. Would Floyd move up to fight him at 154? Would Kirkland move down to 147? Catchweight? Does Kirkland’s team want to risk this chance after a career revival?
We’ll have to wait and see where Floyd Mayweather goes from here…
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson