Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is expected to make a decision “in the very near future” about which opponent he’ll face in his 49th fight, scheduled for September 12 — a bout that Mayweather claims will be the last of his so-far undefeated career, a career that had made the 38-year-old Mayweather, who made his professional debut in October of 1996, the world’s richest pro athlete.
Speculation among boxing fans and experts has run the gamut as to the identity of that “final” opponent — if indeed Mayweather, who has declared himself done with boxing on two prior occasions, sticks to his retirement this time.
Names ranging from Miguel Cotto, whom Mayweather has already beaten once, to middleweight knockout specialist Gennady Golovkin, to the 42-year-old Oscar De La Hoya, who retired in 2008, have been proposed as potential September foes.
The fight will be the last of Mayweather’s six-bout contract with the premium cable network Showtime, and the network’s Vice President Stephen Espinoza has promised that the fighter will “decide in the very near future so we can get moving.”
Mayweather himself brought up a new name in a June interview — former welterweight title holder Andre Berto.
Several days after the mention, the 33-year-old Berto, who lost three of four fights before taking a 14-month break from 2013 to 2014, claimed that Mayweather had been harassing him with crank phone calls.
On Thursday, Los Angeles Times Boxing Corresondent Lance Pugmire wrote that he had “learned” that, in fact, Berto was Mayweather’s top choice to fill the September 12 fight card.
But the popular boxing site Ringside Report ran its own story this week, claiming to debunk the Berto rumors — even though they started with Mayweather himself.
“(Berto’s) chances of landing a Mayweather fight are about as realistic as Oscar De La Hoya’s recent claim that he wants to launch a come back and face Gennady Golovkin in his very first come back fight,” wrote Ringside report blogger Travis “Novel” Fleming.
Fleming recounts the history of rumors leading up to previous Mayweather announcements, finding that non-name, or over-the-hill fighters are frequently mentioned as possible Mayweather opponents — but Mayweather has always ended up fighting a bankable name in the end.
“Since beating Arturo Gatti in 2006, everyone he has fought was either coming off of a career high, they were a champion, or they were a big name,” Fleming wrote.
The top candidate by that criteria, according to Ringside Report — 28-year-old Bolton, England, native Amir Khan, who has certainly lobbied for a Mayweather fight repeatedly.
Though the fight would almost certainly be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas — where Mayweather has fought each of his last 11 fights going back to his 2007 megafight against De La Hoya — Khan brings a devoted British following that would not only travel to Las Vegas, but would also make for high ratings in the United Kingdom, though the fight there would be aired in the middle of the night.
Fleming also names Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia as potential opponents, but none would bring the box-office appeal of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Amir Khan.
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