It seems that there are very few people in boxing who believe that Floyd Mayweather’s uneventful decision win over Andre Berto will be his last fight. That cynicism is understandable. For it is justified by both the history of the sport, and the history of the man.
Observers of the sweet science have been conditioned to assume that a fighter will usually battle on until they have very little left to give. Mayweather’s performance against Berto showed that he had plenty left in his considerable tank, and legitimate boxing retirements rarely look like that.
What’s more is that Floyd has dangled this carrot on more than one occasion in the past.
After his November, 2006 fight with Carlos Baldomir, an emotional Floyd claimed his professional career was at an end. That retirement, however, was particularly short lived.
7 months later he engaged in the biggest fight of his career to that point, against Oscar De La Hoya.
Later in 2007, Mayweather once again claimed that he was hanging-up his gloves, following a 10th round stoppage win over Ricky Hatton. That second attempt at leaving the sport behind was a tad more successful, as he managed to stay out of the ring for close to 2 years.
Still, come September of 2009, he was back between the ropes putting on a display of pugilistic poetry against a thoroughly outclassed Juan Manuel Marquez.
Without the discouraging factor of any major decline, and with the allure of surpassing Rocky Marciano’s unbeaten streak, as well as huge amounts of cash, still sitting on the table, why should we believe that the third installment of the Mayweather retirement will be any different?
Regardless of how convincing one might find Mayweather’s reasoning and performance, the answer to that question is – we shouldn’t?
So if, and when Floyd does return, here are the Top 5 opponents we would like to see him take on.
5. Amir Khan
If for no other reason, we would like to see this fight happen so that we wouldn’t have to listen to Khan moaning about it anymore.
Aside from that, Khan could actually make for an interesting fight with “Money” May. When one remembers how hard a time Floyd had dealing with the handspeed of Zab Judah back in 2006, you would have to give the lightning-fisted Khan a shot at causing the upset. Especially considering Floyd himself has slowed down a beat since then.
Given Khan’s penchant for drama, the chances are it would also be a more entertaining scrap than most Mayweather match-ups.
Like someone that features higher on the list, Khan’s chances of getting Floyd would, of course, be greatly increased should he secure and win a fight with Manny Pacquiao. He has a good chance to do so.
4. Saul Alvarez
When Alvarez fought Mayweather in September of 2013 the ginger Mexican had absolutely no answer for the defensive wizardry of the masterful veteran.
While the one-sided nature of their first fight is a concern, this rematch is more appealing than other highly-touted sequels, such as Mayweather vs Cotto or Mayweather vs Pacquiao.
The reason being, that Alvarez was only 23-years-old at the time of his shellacking at the hands of Floyd. In the intervening time period, he is far more likely to have improved than the veteran pair of Cotto and Pacquiao, both of whom have probably declined since they battled Mayweather.
The caveat that must be added to this potential match-up, though, is that Floyd would have to allow Alvarez to come in at 154lbs, or more. In the first fight, Mayweather contractually obliged “Canelo” to make 152lbs. A more physically mature Alvarez would struggle desperately to make that weight.
If Alvarez beats Cotto in their massive November 21st showdown, this fight becomes a real possibility. Mayweather would have the chance to come out of retirement and scoop the lineal middleweight title from a fighter he has already beaten and who also isn’t a legitimate 160 pounder.
3. Keith Thurman
This fight may have been a little more interesting when Thurman made an effort to live up to his “One Time” moniker.
In recent fights, the Florida native has seemingly become so risk-averse that he has blunted one of his most useful tools – his potent punching power.
The manner in which he matches up to Floyd, though, would likely mean that he would operate on the front-foot with greater consistency. Thus, his power would become a greater factor.
On top of his explosiveness, the 26-year-old also has an unorthodox style, good movement, fast hands and tremendous athleticism.
2. Terence Crawford
Former HBO boxing commentator and analyst, Larry Merchant, recently stated that he would love to see Mayweather take on Omaha, Nebraska’s Crawford.
The 28-year-old made his name at lightweight, where he beat quality operators Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymundo Beltran. He has since moved up to super-lightweight in search of bigger money fights, which simply don’t exist at 135lbs. A move further up the ladder, to welterweight, is likely to follow.
So far, he has just been cutting his teeth at 140lbs, but he has looked impressive in dispatching of Thomas Dulorme and Dierry Jean.
In recent times Crawford has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Manny Pacquiao by their mutual promoter, Bob Arum. It is a fight that makes a lot of sense, especially for the promoter, who would have a new star on his hands if Crawford were to beat the aging Filipino.
Such a win would also make Crawford a very interesting, and marketable opponent for Floyd.
Could Crawford trouble Mayweather? Absolutely.
Earlier in his career, Crawford was seen as more of a jabbing, technical boxer, but as time has gone on he has shown that he is just as comfortable in a fire fight and can be a pernicious finisher.
The consensus fighter of the year in 2014, Crawford has the all-round skill set to pose serious problems for Floyd.
1. Gennady Golovkin
The middleweight monster’s esteemed coach, Abel Sanchez, said on a recent episode of On the Ropes that he believed Mayweather would emerge from retirement at some point, and that if he did, Golovkin would willingly cut to 154lbs in order to lure him into a bout. In fact, Sanchez said that Golovkin would “make all efforts to accommodate” the fight.
Would he remove a limb? Because, in all honesty, it is hard to see anything short of that securing this fight for the Kazakh.
Golovkin has looked absolutely terrifying tearing through the 160lbs division. In the process of establishing himself as one of the sport’s most dangerous fighters, Golovkin has scored 20 consecutive stoppages.
His most recent victory, a one-sided pummeling of David Lemieux, may not have been as spectacular as some of his previous performances, but it was perhaps his most complete boxing display yet.
It was near flawless.
While branding Floyd a ‘cherry-picker’, like so many do, is very unfair, Mayweather certainly isn’t a risk taker. Fighting somebody like Golovkin, who could not only match him for skill, but is also much bigger than him physically, would be a step too far.
Even if Golovkin was forced to drain himself to 154lbs, Mayweather would likely enter the ring as an underdog. After all, Golovkin isn’t a huge middleweight and has said on a number of occasions that he could make the super-welterweight limit.
Golovkin’s otherworldly footwork, ramrod jab, and pulverizing power would make him a nightmare for Mayweather.
This is more of a dream-fight than a legitimate possibility, but it is undoubtedly the most exciting, intriguing, and dangerous bout out there for Floyd.