Floyd Mayweather Jr. hints at next foe
Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. caused a stir late Tuesday night when he tweeted that he likely would face fellow welterweight titlist Devon Alexander in his next fight, even though his name comes out of the blue.
Mayweather is scheduled to be back in the ring for his first fight in a year -- and since his two-month jail term last summer for domestic abuse -- on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
While his opponent has not been formally announced, it has been an open secret in the boxing industry that interim welterweight titlist Robert Guerrero is the leading candidate to get the pay-per-view main event fight.
However, on Tuesday night, Mayweather tweeted, "The negotiations for my fight are almost done. The front runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. It'd be a unification bout at welterweight."
The negotiations for my fight are almost done. The front runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. It'd be a unification bout at welterweight” -- Tweet from Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather's comment caught many by surprise, especially considering that Alexander was scheduled to defend his title against mandatory challenger Kell Brook of England on Feb. 23 in Detroit before postponing the fight on Monday, citing a severely strained right biceps that he injured hitting the heavy bag during a training session a few days ago.
It would be quite a surprise for Mayweather to go with Alexander, who, according to trainer and manager Kevin Cunningham, will be sidelined for six to eight weeks because of the injury. That would mean if Mayweather was going to fight him, Alexander would spend much of the promotion for a major pay-per-view fight injured, which is a far-fetched scenario when trying to market a fight.
"Devon is focused on getting his biceps 100 percent. That is all we are focused on," Cunningham told ESPN.com.
Cunningham declined to discuss whether he has been negotiating a fight with Mayweather.
"The only comment I got is that Devon is focused on getting his biceps back to 100 percent, and whatever Mayweather tweeted, you got to talk to Mayweather about that," Cunningham said.
Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, who has promoted all of Mayweather's bouts since 2007 even though the company does not have a long-term deal with him and works with him on a fight-by-fight basis, said many times in recent months that he was working on Mayweather's next fight and often cited Guerrero -- a Golden Boy fighter -- as a strong possibility.
Schaefer, who also promotes Alexander, was taken by surprise by Mayweather's comment.
"[The comment] came from Mayweather and not me, so I cannot comment on it," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "Last I checked I was working on rescheduling the [Alexander-Brook] fight."
Mayweather's adviser is Al Haymon, who also works with Alexander and Cunningham.
Asked whether perhaps Haymon was working on a Mayweather-Alexander deal without telling him, Schaefer said, "I doubt that Al would mislead me regarding Alexander's plans.
"I am telling you that I am working on identifying a replacement date for Alexander versus Brook. I can only inform you on stuff I am working on. What Floyd says is up to Floyd or [adviser] Leonard [Ellerbe] to comment on."
Ellerbe did not return a phone message. Haymon does not speak to the media.
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While Cunningham would not say whether he and Haymon were working on a Mayweather deal, he did continue to say that Alexander was legitimately injured. On Monday evening, he detailed Alexander's injury and lamented the postponement of the fight with Brook. He continued to talk about the injury on Wednesday.
If Mayweather does wind up facing Alexander, Mayweather's assertion that the fight would be to unify titles seems unlikely.
Mayweather holds the WBC version of the title, while Alexander is the IBF's titleholder. But Alexander's fight with Brook is a mandatory defense that is already under contract. Contracts for title fights almost always contain language for rescheduling the fight, usually within 90 days, in the event of an injury.
Also, the IBF -- which generally approves unification fights over mandatory defenses -- likely would not sanction the fight because Alexander's mandatory defense is already under contract, meaning the deadline to ask permission for a unification fight came and went months ago.
"Alexander has already signed to fight mandatory challenger Kell Brook. The IBF expects Alexander to fight Brook next," IBF championship chairman Lindsey Tucker told ESPN.com.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Brook's promoter, also doubted the veracity of Mayweather's tweet.
"Seems bull----, but two things," Hearn told ESPN.com. "We have a signed contract to fight Devon Alexander [and] they would have to ask the IBF for an exemption for a unification fight, which, as we already have a signed contract, would be heavily disputed."
Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs), who turns 36 on Feb. 24, has won world titles in five weight classes. He presently holds titles at welterweight and junior middleweight. In his last fight on May 5, he outpointed Miguel Cotto to claim a 154-pound title for the second time. A month after the fight, Mayweather reported to jail.
Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs), 25, of St. Louis, a former unified junior welterweight titleholder, won a version of the 147-pound title Oct. 20 with a lopsided decision against Randall Bailey at the Barclays Center in New York.
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