MAYWEATHER'S ROAD TO 49-0 MUST INCLUDE PACQUIAO AND ALVAREZ
By Tommy Canez
By easily defeating Robert Guerrero last Saturday, Floyd Mayweather left no question why he is considered one of the best fighters of this era. He boxed beautifully, landed crisp right hands all night, matched jab for jab with Guerrero, and displayed defensive mastery. With his exceptional defense, he showed that boxing is about hitting and not getting hit. He did what many boxing pundits expected him to do against Guerrero, one of the world's best welterweights, who was nonetheless an overmatched and outclassed opponent. The only chance Guerrero ever had was to land a lucky punch, hope Mayweather made a bad mistake or had a terrible night. Basically, Guerrero's chances of victory were the same every underdog has when he steps into a boxing ring.
After the fight, Mayweather claimed he wants to finish out the remaining five fights on his Showtime contract and ride off into the sunset. That means his resume has room for just five more opponents. Who is out there that could possibly give him a run for his money? Some potential opponents are world 154-pound champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Now, Mayweather has expressed on several occasions that he prefers to stay at 147 pounds. Although Mayweather did not explicity state he will or wont fight Alvarez, he seemed to leave the door open for a bout against Alvarez, who would provide a serious threat and is the most logical choice if he plans to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend this September. The fight would sell itself with Alvarez carrying the Mexican fan base. Furthermore, the fight would be intriguing because Alvarez is an an opponent who possesses qualities that Mayweather is not used to seeing in the ring: fast hands, combination punching, head movement and a commitment to body punching.
If not a mega-fight with Alvarez, who is left? World junior weltwerweight champion Danny Garcia, coming off a quality win over Zab Judah, would make for a good fight but nonetheless would be a heavy underdog. It would involve Garcia moving up 7 pounds. Garcia would also provide a quality that Mayweather is not used to seeing such as being able to punch with his opponent. The pre-fight hype would also spur pay-per-view buys with Danny's father getting under the Mayweather family's skin with his entertaining and foul trash talk. However, other than that single quality, Garcia would fit the mold of the usual Mayweather opponent which is one punch at a time, and a stationary target.
World middleweight champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez also comes to mind. Martinez looked ordinary in his last fight, a win against Martin Murray, and appears to have left a lot of himself in the ring against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last year. Martinez would provide the type of opponent that fans have clamored for years to see Mayweather against. Martinez is a fighter with fast hands with an unorthodox style who can bounce on his toes and has in the past shown supreme power. However, Martinez is likely to require surgery and is said to be out of action for the remainder of 2013. He can be ruled out as a Mayweather opponent for this year, and will be 39 years old in 2014.
Another potential opponent would be Paulie Malignaggi if he pulls off the upset against Adrien Broner, which is a long shot. The angle for this fight would be that Malignaggi beat Broner, who has the same style as Mayweather, and that he could do the same to Mayweather. However, the odds of Malignaggi upseting Broner are long indeed due to Broner's exceptional talents. But if Malignaggi defeats Broner in June, one has to assume that Malignaggi would become the instant front runner to fight the great Mayweather.
Two other potential Mayweather foes, Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley, seem to be headed towards fighting each other in the fall.
This leaves Manny Pacquiao, who has an upcoming fight against Brandon Rios in Macau planned for November. If Pacquiao is successful against Rios, it would catapult him back to the top of Mayweather's list of opponents. If Pacquiao beats Rios and Mayweather continues to avoid him, Mayweather's goal of matching the great Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record will always have a huge asterisk hovering around it like a pesky mosquito. Although Mayweather has stated that Pacquiao has unfinished business against Marquez before he can even think about getting into the ring with him, such talk is simply a smokescreen for saying he has no interest in fighting Pacquiao. There have been countless fighters throughout the history of the sport who have lost to an opponent and never had a rematch. If we go by that standard, we would have to assume that Oscar De La Hoya had no business in the ring against Mayweather for having unfinished business against Bernard Hopkins (who knocked De La Hoya out). Victor Ortiz should also have not had any business in the ring with Mayweather for having unfinished business against Marcos Maidana. Miguel Cotto should also have had no business in the ring against Mayweather for having unfinished business against Pacquiao. The list goes on and on. Pacquiao's unfinished business with Marquez is not a true barrier to fighting Mayweather.
Despite Pacquiao's recent knockout loss to Marquez, he's already beaten Marquez twice so it's not as if Pacquiao has to prove he can beat Marquez. On top of this, many boxing pundits have their doubts about the integrity of Marquez's win given his suddenly bulging muscles that coincided with his newfound association with confessed drug cheat Angel Heredia.
Moreover, Pacquiao looked extremely sharp in his last fight before Marquez caught him with a devastating right hand. Pacquiao showed he still possesses the hand speed, power, and his classic foot speed by darting in and out to bother Mayweather. Most importantly, Pacquiao has the ability to fight the same type of fight he fought against De La Hoya by taking his time, moving side to side, landing fast combinations, and resetting or by being the aggressor who punches from every conceivable angle. There are not many opponents that brings what Pacquiao would bring to the table as far as in the ring qualities as well as a hardcore fan base.
Ultimately, Mayweather can continue to fight overmatched, outclassed, and slower opponents and retire and build a brand around 49-0, but it would always be questioned by many fans without Pacquiao as one of the 49 wins. If Pacquiao does his part against Rios, Mayweather-Pacquiao would be the only fight left that would put a huge exclamation mark next to his 49-0 record. Floyd Mayweather is an extraordinary fighter who will go down as one of the greats when it's all said and done. Let's just hope he reaches 49-0 with Canelo and Pacquiao on his resume.
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