Floyd Mayweather Jr. is widely expected to make a “comeback” in 2016, but according to rumors circulating Saturday he may fight a surprising and controversial opponent — Adrien Broner, the flashy but inconsistent 26-year-old Cincinnati native who calls himself “The Problem.” The fight, in which Mayweather would be a prohibitive favorite, would likely result in a 50th victory for Mayweather against no defeats, allowing him to retire — presumably for real this time — by breaking the 60-year-old record for most wins in an undefeated career.
Former Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano, who fought for the final time in 1955, ended his career at 49-0, the identical record Mayweather took into his self-proclaimed retirement after he easily outpointed Andre Berto on September 12.
But given that Mayweather has “retired” on several previous occasions in his career, boxing fans have remained skeptical that the undefeated welterweight’s latest retirement is anything more than a break from the boxing game that will set up a triumphant, record-breaking comeback in 2016.
On Thursday, Mayweather’s signature opponent, Manny Pacquiao, claimed that he was already negotiating a rematch with Mayweather to be held in early 2016. But a new rumor appeared this weekend, courtesy of Ring TV reporter Michael Woods, that Mayweather may instead take the path less traveled and choose the flamboyant Broner as his comeback foe.
Woods wrote on Friday that he received a call from an unnamed source who passed on the tip about a Mayweather vs Broner fight.
“I’m hearing rumblings,” the source said, as quoted by Woods. “They are thinking Adrien Broner versus Floyd Mayweather if and when Floyd decides to get bored of being the world-traveler, an Instagram Hall of Famer. AB vs. TBE.”
Of course, in the public mind, a matchup of Mayweather and Broner is likely to generate little more excitement than did the fight between Mayeather and Berto, which appears to have been a significant money-loser, pulling in the lowest number of pay-per-view sales of any Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight since 2006.
Broner scored a solid stoppage victory over rugged Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev in Cincinnati last weekend, giving the 140-pounder the vacant World Boxing Association super lightweight title belt. But in June he dropped a unanimous decision to Shawn Porter and in 2013, he also lost to Argentine Marcos Maidana who went on to be defeated twice by Mayweather in following year.
Following that fight, Broner declared that he wanted his next opponent to be 39-6 British fighter Ashley Theophane — whose main claim to fame is that he is promoted by one Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather answered by posting an Instagram message saying that the fight between Broner and Theophane was “coming soon,” and posting for a photo of himself posing with the two boxers.
But the whole scenario could be nothing but a way to create a storyline for a Mayweather comeback — against Broner, who has claimed Mayweather as a role model and cultivates a similar outrageous and self-promoting persona.
“This could easily be worked into some sort of concocted storyline to put Mayweather and Broner at odds later in 2016, and would even give Mayweather a chance to play the babyface for once, since the easiest way to sell it would be Rocky Balboa-Tommy Gunn style, where the young idiot starts thinking he’s better than his mentor,” wrote Scott Christ of the popular boxing blog Bad Left Hook.
“It’s a win-win fight for Mayweather because Broner doesn’t present the same kind of danger that fighters like Amir Khan, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia would present to him,” concurred Allan Fox, of Boxing News.
Woods, the reporter who first publicized the rumor, said that he spoke with Mike Stafford, who serves as a coach and mentor to Adrien Broner, to ask him about a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in 2016 — and Stafford “didn’t shoot the rumor down.”
[Featured Image: Al Bello / Getty Images]