Garcia deserves a shot
After polishing off Canelo Alvarez in easy fashion on Saturday night -- despite the woeful scorecards turned in, especially the ridiculous draw by now-former judge C.J. Ross -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he plans to stay busy by fighting twice in 2014, just as he did in 2013.
He plans to fight again in May on Cinco De Mayo weekend or, as he likes to say, Cinco De Mayweather. The biggest question about Mayweather's next fight, however, is not so much if he'll win. We all know he will, and probably easily. The real question is who gets to cash the lottery ticket by being his next victim?
I'm here to deal in reality. So I'm not going tell you he should fight middleweights such as champion Sergio Martinez or titleholders Gennady Golovkin or Peter Quillin, as much as I'd love to see Mayweather dare to be great and go for history by trying to win a middleweight title. Those fights are not happening, certainly not in May.
Nor will I waste your time, or mine, yammering about how he should finally fight the diminished Manny Pacquiao. I wanted to see the fight three years ago when it mattered, not now with Pacquiao coming off a monster knockout loss. Besides, we all know about the Top Rank-Golden Boy/HBO-Showtime situation. Pacquiao isn't happening, and neither is Mayweather against other qualified Top Rank fighters Timothy Bradley Jr., Brandon Rios or Mike Alvarado.
That leaves us with a fighter from Golden Boy's stable, which is loaded with top fighters at junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight. So now that we know where Mayweather's opponent is coming from, which Golden Boy guy should he fight? Keep in mind that nobody stands out in terms of really getting fans that pumped up.
The top candidates are junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia, who upset Lucas Matthysse on the Mayweather-Alvarez undercard; the winner of a probable Dec. 7 fight between welterweight titlist Devon Alexander and ex-junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan; and the winner of a probable Dec. 14 fight between welterweight titlist Adrien Broner and former junior welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana.
I don't love any of those fights, but Mayweather does need somebody across the ring from him. So who shall it be?
Eventually, a Broner fight will be big business. They're pals now but business is business. But it's simply not ready to be made yet. Broner needs to prove himself a bit more. He has one welterweight fight to his name, a not-that-impressive decision against Paulie Malignaggi to win a belt in June. Besides, Maidana is a big puncher and there's no guarantee Broner will beat him. Maidana, even if he wins, probably is not commercially viable, so I'd say he has basically no chance to get Mayweather in May. Bottom line: I don't see Mayweather fighting either guy next and I'm fine with that.
So that pares my list of preferred (and realistic) opponent to either Garcia or the Alexander-Khan winner. Since my editor insists that I make a pick, I'll go with Garcia.
First, he's faced quality opposition and is undefeated (27 have tried and 27 have failed!). Also, Garcia has defied the odds before, upsetting Khan by knockout in 2012 and surprising Matthysse. So Garcia has shown he can rise to the occasion. Maybe, just maybe, he could do it again against Mayweather. I said maybe.
Garcia is also an exciting fighter. He'll come to fight without question and let it all hang out, even if he's behind, as he was against Matthysse for three-quarters of the fight. There is no quit in him.
Garcia has also earned the opportunity -- more than the other candidates under consideration -- to challenge for Mayweather's welterweight crown by establishing himself as No. 1 at 140 with clear wins against Matthysse, Zab Judah, Erik Morales (twice), Khan and even former titlist Kendall Holt.
In my book, that makes Garcia the best choice of available opponents.
Bring in "The Problem"
Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s dominance has left him in a bit of a pickle, eh?
Against Canelo Alvarez, whom many of us attempted to sell as his most difficult challenge in at least a full decade, Mayweather put forth a dazzling performance that was invaluable for inflating his legacy, but potentially crippling to his immediate future in terms of pay-per-view buys.
Mayweather's systematic disarming of Alvarez's confidence -- which drew nothing but respect from critics and admirers -- removed the drama that brings customers back in droves. Now Mayweather is literally out of legitimate opponents who provide the necessary combination of marketability and perceived danger.
Sure, unbeaten 140-pound champion Danny Garcia is likely the most deserving to get the call as his next opponent. But due to the fact that Mayweather doesn't usually finish his opponents, the casual fan -- who represents the integral portion of the audience needed to produce pay-per-views that sell above 1 million buys -- simply isn't willing to pay upward of $70 to see him pick apart another opponent they've never heard of.
Don't believe me? Let's just say there's a reason why the final numbers for Mayweather's previous bout against Robert Guerrero have yet to be released more than four months later.
That's why Mayweather has somewhat of a problem on his hands. The fighter self-dubbed as "Money," who took home a record-breaking guarantee of $41.5 million for his fight with Alvarez, isn't a fan of doing anything small. His fights, in fact, have grown to feel more like cultural events.
And unless Amir Khan pulls off the rousing double of not only defeating Devon Alexander in their proposed December fight -- a big "if" unto itself -- but doing so in a manner that removes the lingering shadow of his vulnerability, a fight between Khan and Mayweather in front of 90,000 fans at London's Wembley Stadium simply won't be in the cards.
It would seem the time is now for Mayweather, the lineal champion in two divisions, to move up in weight again, pairing himself in a dare-to-be-great challenge against a middleweight titlist. The idea offers the very sellable qualities of danger and historical context, with the obvious choice being unbeaten Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin, who is currently left without a compelling opponent of his own under the Golden Boy banner.
But for some reason, I just don't see Mayweather doing that, which leaves one fight few are willing to talk about. What about pairing Mayweather with fellow 147-pound titlist Adrien Broner?
I know what you're thinking: They said they'll never fight. They're like brothers. And, not for nothing, isn't it a bit too soon?
The timing actually couldn't be more perfect when you consider the limited options available. The trash-talking Broner, often dubbed as something of a poor man's Mayweather due to his brash personality and similar fighting style, will likely headline his first pay-per-view in December against slugger Marcos Maidana in what could be a showcase fight for his immense, yet not fully discovered, talent.
The idea of a pro wrestling-themed "teacher versus student" angle is a gold mine to a casual audience, especially considering this one pairs unbeaten American fighters who can talk and regularly draw attention for their flamboyant personalities outside the ring.
The fight sells itself.
Aside from the potential theatrics of watching Broner on the prefight all-access shows state his claim for taking over Mayweather's throne, it also satisfies from a standpoint of competition.
Broner, at worst on the outskirts of most pound-for-pound rankings, is the one fighter between 140 and 154 pounds with the best chance of giving Mayweather a competitive fight thanks to his flashy combination of speed, power and technique.
And that, above all else, is what truly sells a fight.