Danny Garcia's knockout victory of Amir Khan this past Saturday night sent shockwaves through the boxing world as a new star was born. Not only did the born-and-bred Philadelphia native Garcia cement himself as one of the top fighters in the world, but he also knocked off one of the fighters who was possibly in line to face pound-for-pound #1 ranked Floyd Mayweather. Currently serving out roughly two more weeks of his jail sentence, pending good behavior, Mayweather is scheduled to be released soon from the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before he went away, however, and before his May fight with Miguel Cotto, the man known as "Money" stated he would like to fight once more before the end of 2012 because he didn't want to give the fans another year-long hiatus from the sport.
Khan, a rising star who was scheduled to move up to welterweight before the Garcia loss, was hoping to be in the running for a fight with Mayweather in late 2012 or possibly early 2013. A rematch with Miguel Cotto in New York City was rumored to be a possibility for Mayweather's next fight, but it's highly unlikely that Mayweather will fight anywhere outside of Las Vegas, where lately he has made it a hobby of generating around $40 million for 12 rounds of boxing. While a rematch with Cotto would be intriguing in the ring considering the way Cotto performed in May, fans are not exactly clamoring for it to take place. Nevertheless, Cotto is rumored to be making his return to the ring in early December at Madison Square Garden, so a Mayweather rematch seems unlikely. Not to mention, Mayweather stated after the Cotto fight that he is not a 154-pound fighter, so he would naturally like to stay at welterweight.
The obvious choice for Mayweather still remains Manny Pacquiao, but as fans around the world have witnessed for almost three years now, that fight will happen when all parties involved are willing to put egos aside...hence, not anytime soon. The fight may be closer to reality now that Pacquiao technically lost his last fight against Timothy Bradley. Nobody believes Pacquiao's popularity or stock fell after the Bradley fight, but the clock seems to be ticking on his career, especially after his last two performances (Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez) and his steady rise in politics in the Philippines. If Pacquiao were to lose again before fighting Mayweather, the approximately $75 million that each fighter stands to make (at the minimum) would most certainly go out the window because fans would come to the realization that Pacquiao is not on the same level as Mayweather anymore. Same goes for Mayweather in that regard. Should he lose before a Pacquiao showdown, the money goes down the drain as well. Make no mistake, a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao showdown is at the top of the list, but it still seems very unlikely at this stage. So who else is there?
The other obvious selection is the man who defeated Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley. Unfortunately, the minute Bradley signed a contract with Top Rank Promotions and Bob Arum, he, along with the rest of the boxing world, understood that he was signing a virtual anti-Mayweather contract, as per the aforementioned egos in the previous paragraph. In case you have not been following boxing over the past few years, Floyd Mayweather and his "Money Team," along with Golden Boy Promotions, do not play nicely with Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions. The feud and hatred between the parties has spilled over into matchmaking, preventing boxing fans from seeing some of the sport's most intriguing match-ups.
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is another choice that seems obvious, but Golden Boy is not ready to push the 21-year-old, future megastar into a fight with Mayweather just yet. After Canelo's fight in May against Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya stated that Canelo isn't ready for Mayweather. Golden Boy is leaning towards putting Alvarez in the ring with Mayweather during Cinco de Mayo in 2013. In the meantime, he has to get past Josesito Lopez on September 15th. Rumors are swirling that Canelo could be Cotto's opponent in early December in another Mexico vs. Puerto Rico grudge match. If that fight does happen, and Canelo defeated Cotto, the Mayweather showdown would be all but set for 2013.
Sergio Martinez is yet another possibility at 154 pounds should he get past Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on September 15th, but Mayweather doesn't seem too eager to promote a fight with Martinez, perhaps thinking "Maravilla" is not yet a big enough draw in the sport. It would certainly be an intriguing fight, and perhaps Mayweather's toughest fight, even more so than Manny Pacquiao. Hardcore fight fans would love to see this fight, but outside of diehards, casual fans have never heard of Martinez, regarded by many as the #3 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. Maybe that will change after September 15th, but only time will tell. If the lineal middleweight champion Martinez looks spectacular against Chavez Jr. and starts to become a household name, he could land the assignment.
Juan Manuel Marquez is also a possibility because of how he always fares against Pacquiao, but we have already seen that song and dance before. Mayweather, coming off of a 21-month layoff, dominated Marquez in 2009 en route to an easy unanimous decision victory.
Mayweather proved he is willing to fight young, up-and-coming fighters, as he did in September of 2011 when he faced Victor Ortiz. There are certainly plenty of fighters out there for Mayweather, but only a few names truly have a golden opportunity to state their case to be Mayweather's next opponent.
Devon Alexander (23-1 13 KO's)
Currently ranked as the #2 fighter in the WBC welterweight rankings (Floyd Mayweather is the champion), Alexander is in a unique position as he has a de-facto audition for a Mayweather fight on September 8th. The Golden Boy Promotions fighter is scheduled to face newly-crowned IBF welterweight champion Randall Bailey. In 2010, Alexander looked poised to be an heir-apparent to Floyd Mayweather after knocking out Juan Urango and unifying belts at jr. welterweight. Mayweather went so far as to call Alexander after the Urango fight, telling him he would be passing the torch to him, but a three-fight string of so-so performances followed, including a technical decision loss to Bradley in January 2011, setting Alexander back. After a split decision victory in June of 2011, Alexander decided to move up to welterweight, citing problems making weight at 140 pounds (a weight he had been fighting at since he was 15 years old). The move paid off as he made a successful 147-pound debut by dominating Argentine slugger, Marcos Maidana, in February. That performance not only placed Alexander back in the good graces of most fans, because it was clear he was a completely different fighter when he didn't have to drain his body to make weight, but it placed him back on the radar as one of the top fighters in world. Now, Alexander has the opportunity to win his third world title, in his second weight class, at the ripe age of 25, setting up a potential unification fight with Mayweather. Most athletes begin their prime in their mid-to-late 20's, so "The Great" may be ready to shine. Alexander is going to need another performance like he did against Maidana, possibly even better, if he wants to get a crack at the "Money" man. The St. Louis native has a great back-story that will have casual boxing fans falling in love with his humble personality considering his upbringing. He is also a southpaw, which would help Mayweather prepare for a showdown with Manny Pacquiao. Perhaps most importantly for Alexander, he is an Al Haymon fighter. Haymon, who also represents Mayweather, may have more leverage than any other figure in the sport, and could be the deciding factor in determining Mayweather's next opponent.
Robert Guerrero (29-1-1 18 KO's)
Another southpaw fighter in the Golden Boy Promotions stable with the opportunity to audition for a Mayweather showdown, the WBC #4 ranked welterweight, Guerrero, makes his welterweight debut on July 28th against the #1 contender Selcuk Aydin for the interim WBC title. Guerrero has been very adamant about his desire to face Mayweather, believing he has the style to beat "Pretty Boy" Floyd. However, Guerrero has never fought above lightweight (135 lbs), and his biggest wins have come against Malcolm Klassen, Joel Casamayor, Vicente Escebedo, and Michael Katsidis. Guerrero is of Mexican descent, which makes him a big promotional draw, and his story is also one that fans will fall in love with. Guerrero temporarily stepped away from the sport in 2010 to aid his ailing wife and high school sweetheart, Casey, who was suffering from cancer, undergoing a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. Guerrero is now back full-time to the sport and says he is ready to face the best. Most fans believe he is a good boxer, but not yet great. He will need a Herculean-like performance against Aydin if he wants to be considered for the opportunity. Guerrero may need a spectacular knockout to show the world he can hurt a true welterweight.
Josesito Lopez (30-4 18 KO's)
The one wildcard that seems to continually be overlooked. The stars aligned just right and Lopez was placed in the position of a lifetime. He took full advantage of the opportunity by knocking out Victor Ortiz back on June 23rd, who was already penciled in to face Alvarez on September 15th. Lopez was supposed to be nothing more than an afterthought. He was supposed to be a tune-up fight for Ortiz. Instead, Lopez stunned the boxing world, and has since become boxing's new golden child. Lopez dubbed himself "The Mexican Rocky" after defeating Ortiz. When Golden Boy could not find another opponent for Alvarez after James Kirkland, Paul Williams, and Ortiz all fell out, they decided to give Lopez a crack at the 154-pound title. Make no mistake about it, Golden Boy, along with 99% of the boxing world, expects Canelo to beat Lopez. Josesito has never fought at a weight above 144.5 pounds, which is what he weighed in at for the Ortiz fight. Now, he moves up yet again to face the hard-hitting, 154-pound champion Alvarez. It's certainly a long shot for him to win, but should Lopez pull off the upset of the year, and Mayweather decides to return to the ring in late 2012, you may as well pencil in Josesito Lopez as Floyd Mayweather's opponent, because Lopez will become a bigger overnight sensation than Jeremy Lin. After the Ortiz win, Lopez also signed a contract with Al Haymon, so that would also make this fight all but a done deal. But again, that is only possible if Lopez pulls off the upset of the year against Alvarez.
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