By Jack Price @PriceyJ
With the pound-for-pound king Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather set to return to the ring on May 4th, fight fans are extremely excited to find out who he is going to face. And with the 5-weight world champion approaching his 36th birthday, there are many people who believe that on this night the first ‘L’ could be put on his record. As far as I see it, there are only two guys out there that look likely to share the ring with him in May, but to make this article a little more interesting I have selected 5 potential opponents that I would like to see ‘Money’ face.
In order of the most likely, this is how I think these fights would go:
Floyd Mayweather Vs Robert Guerrero – Welterweight
Guerrero and Mayweather stare deep into each other’s eyes as the referee gives his final instructions in the center of the ring at the MGM Grand. Mayweather, for the first time in his career, seems to have had his feathers ruffled by his quiet but extremely confident opponent. The 35-year old is used to having the fans in the crowd be mostly supportive of his opponent, but he has never experienced anything like this before. Guerrero fans have come in the masses to support their fighter, who is finally getting the opportunity he has been asking for, for so long.
The first bell rings and Guerrero shoots straight out of the blocks, giving Mayweather little time to think and feel out his opponent. The action continues like this for the first few rounds. Guerrero rushing forward with ruthless aggression and throwing tons of punches that “almost” catch Floyd. Despite many of the punches only partly connecting with Floyd’s body, ‘The Ghost’ takes all of the first four rounds purely because of Mayweather’s low work rate. The bell for round 5 sounds and Harold Lederman asks the question that is on everyone’s mind; “Has father time finally caught up with the previously-unbeatable Floyd Mayweather?”
Almost like he has just heard that question amplified through a loud speaker, Mayweather throws a stiff and sharp right hand that sends Guerrero stumbling backwards. This is followed by a double-jab right hand combination that pushes Guerrero back onto the ropes. Instead of piling the pressure on, Mayweather takes a step back and slyly throws a short left uppercut as his opponent bounces forward. Clearly annoyed by the punch he has just been caught with Guerrero swings a left-hook that wildly misses. And the notorious smile that we have become so used to seeing, appears on Floyd Mayweather’s face. For he realises that this is the turning point in the fight.
Rounds 6,7 and 8 lack the excitement of round 5 but the work rate from both fighters are just as high. Mayweather is dominating without actually throwing many punches, and Guerrero is just searching for a way to get back into the fight. The frustration all becomes too much for Robert at the end of the 8th, he has been waiting for this opportunity for so long and it’s now all falling apart in front of his very own eyes. In an attempt to turn it into his type of fight, he grabs Mayweather, who clearly isn’t as steady on his legs as he once was, spins him round and punches him in the back of the head. A loud “ooooooo” goes out from the crowd and the bell rings just before Mayweather has time to complain. For Mayweather now, things have just got personal.
From round 9 onward he ups his game once again and there is a real sting in every punch he throws. Guerrero gives it his all in the last round, but still fails to win it as the final bell rings and the two men hug in respect for each other. Guerrero raises his hand to his loyal fans but the realisation of a loss is clear to see in his facial expression. Mayweather strolls cockily back to his corner and nods appreciatively to his uncle Roger. If the final half of the fight hadn’t have been so easy it may have been the last time we would see the legend in the ring.
The scores are in. The two fighters embrace for one last time before the predictable scores are announced. All three judges have it the same: 116-112 to Mayweather.
“I gave it my best. I wanna thank God and all of my fans for the support. Floyd is a great fighter, but I’ll be back,” says Guerrero in good spirits at the end of the fight. If it had of been closer, he may have been a little more disappointed with himself. Floyd comes out with the usual stuff he says post-fight and then just before the broadcast gets cut off and we go back to Steve Bunce in the BoxNation studio we hear “44 and 0 now baby. Who’s next?”
Floyd Mayweather Vs Juan Manuel Marquez – Welterweight
“Marquez is a great fighter. It’s me and him at the top, and I’m just looking forward to this fight,” says Floyd at the final press conference. Marquez just looks like a blood-thirsty animal just waiting for fight day to come, and his shoulders are bulging like boulders as he climbs into the ring on May 4th. With aggressive grins on both men’s faces, they touch gloves as a sign of respect just before we witness one of the most exciting fights of the year.
The first round is slow with neither man throwing much. Marquez seems to be stalking Mayweather and looking to throw the same overhand-right that knocked Pacquiao down for the first time back in their memorable December clash. Floyd, being the smart and prepared man that he always is, just rolls his shoulder forward and lets it brush past his ear. Marquez, clearly not phased by missing with every punch, just continues to do this for the first three minutes. It’s almost like he knew what was coming next…
55 seconds into the second round and we witness something like we have never seen before. Marquez launches the right hand over the top once again and it connects perfectly with Mayweather’s jaw. Floyd’s legs buckle instantly and his eyes have gone for the first time in his career. The crowd erupts as the 35-year old hangs on for dear life whilst Marquez desperately tries to shake him off.
“It’s like a grappling match in here, and there’s no way Floyd is going to let go!” cries Benny Ricardo, who for once has a reason to sound so excited. There’s 20 seconds left on the clock and Floyd still doesn’t seem to be fully recovered. However, Marquez seems to have gassed himself out after throwing constant bombs for the last 30 seconds. The bell rings and both men are desperate to get back to their corner.
Surprisingly it is Marquez’s corner that is the most chaotic. Nacho Beristain and his team scream advice at the 39-year old who is breathing extremely heavily. Meanwhile Roger Mayweather asks his nephew calmly “How are you feeling?”
“I’m good,” says an also heavy-breathing but composed Floyd. His senses seem to have finally come back. As the third round begins, Marquez rushes straight out of the blocks once again and comes so close to landing that right hand for the second time. Floyd has now felt Dinamita’s power and seems content to just box and move. He does this, and it works effectively for the next few rounds. As round seven finishes, we do start to hear a few jeers coming from the crowd. Not because it’s a boring fight, it’s just that the pace and action has slowed down so much since the second round, and the fans want to see more.
Floyd gives the fans what they want when he pushes onto the front foot at the start of round 8, seemingly having got his confidence back. Marquez, still breathing relatively heavily, allows himself to get pushed back onto the ropes. This is his type of fight, but he just doesn’t seem up for it. A few words from Nacho in Mexican during the minute break seem to shoot adrenaline back into Marquez’s body. These words were later translated as “It’s the last fight of your career, do not blow it.”
Floyd, having seen his opponent’s energy increase massively, does the smart thing and goes back to his boxing. However, this doesn’t keep the little Mexican bulldog in front of him from getting in close. This is the last fight of Marquez’s career, and he is not going to blow it! Round 9 clearly goes to Marquez. It’s like Floyd can see everything coming but he just can’t stop it. Round 10 and 11 pass and the majority have scored them to Marquez for his sheer aggression and work rate. Even a boxing purist would struggle to give the rounds to Floyd’s counter punching because there just isn’t enough of it. The bell rings to start the final round and both men were off of their stools early.
“Let’s go baby,” says Uncle Roger as he pats Floyd on the shoulder for the last time in his fight.
The two men touch gloves and prepare for three hard minutes of battle. Marquez starts as the aggressor, digging his head into Floyd’s chest. Mayweather tries to land the short uppercut but he just can’t, which is something we have never seen before. With under a minute left, Marquez is winning this round. If he does win it then this fight is very, very close. Realising this, Floyd picks up the pace and starts to land some clean counter right hands as Marquez comes in. But is it enough to steal the round?
Tense moments follow the sound of the final bell. Even the crowd are quiet, just anticipating the scorecards that must be close. After a very long wait we hear Michael Buffer say the words “Ladies and gentleman.” Both Floyd and Marquez are fixated on the man with the mic. “We have a split decision!… Judge Patricia Morse Jarman scores the bout 116-112 to Mayweather. Judge Dave Moretti scores the bout 117-111 to Marquez.”
The Mexican fans erupt at the sound of such a wide score. Has their hero ended the unbeatable reign of Floyd ‘Money’Mayweather. “And judge Robert Hoyle has the fight scored 115-113 to winner………. And STILL WBC welterweight champion of the world, Floyd ‘Moneeeeyyyyy’ Maywwweeeeaaaaatttthhhher!”
The cockiness is still there from Mayweather when he raises his hand, but you can also see the signs of relief. He walks straight over to Marquez and hugs him. “What a fight!” says Bob Sheridan. “And this could be the last time we see both of these guys in the ring… Well if it is, I’m certainly satisfied with what I’ve seen here tonight. Good night ladies and gentleman!”
Floyd Mayweather Vs Devon Alexander – Welterweight
Both men walk to the ring with their entourages and their world titles on show for this welterweight unification bout. Just weeks ago it looked as though Alexander was going to be stripped of his title for taking this fight and pulling out of his scheduled date with British star Kell Brook. But a deal was reached between all three parties (Brook, Alexander & Mayweather) and the winner of this fight must defend their titles against the British contender who out-boxed Mike Jones impressively over 12 rounds just two weeks ago on the 20th April.
There isn’t much difference in size when the two men square up in the center of the ring, but it’s clear to see that Floyd is by far the more confident. Many people believe that Alexander only took this bout for the money. Just under $2 million is what he is expected to receive. The first round starts and the action is incredibly slow, which was always expected with two defensive-minded fighters like these. The question on most people’s mind at the beginning is: “Will Devon’s defensive southpaw style be an advantage or his downfall?” Mayweather is used to guys rushing him so he could struggle with a fighter like this. We just don’t know what’s going to happen, but we do know it won’t be too exciting.
Mayweather, who usually does very little in the opening rounds, actually throws by far the more punches in round 1. Not many of them are landing as Devon seems content to just cover up and take the shots on his arms. If he wants to stand any chance of winning this fight, even with some generous judging, he’s going to have to throw something. The next few rounds follow exactly the same pattern, except for that Alexander is throwing a little bit more. Mayweather seems to be comfortable fighting as the aggressor and seems to handle his opponent’s power very easily. Devon is getting through with some shots but they’re having no affect and his work rate just isn’t high enough. This is exactly what we expected from the 26-year old.
However, his trainer Kevin Cunnigham seems happy with what his fighter is doing: “This is good. Just stick to the plan man.” Alexander gives a nod of agreement, sucks up some air, stands up and goes out for another three minutes of doing the bare minimum.
Another few rounds pass by and it’s now round 9. Only one can really be scored to Alexander so far. Despite throwing many more punches than he usually does, Floyd looks as fresh as a daisy. This is actually the best many people have seen him fight in years. But maybe it’s down to his opponent just not being in the fight. With just a minute left on the clock in round 9 it seems like it’s time for the next step of Team Alexander’s plan as the southpaw switches to orthodox throws a left hook and pushes Mayweather back into the ropes.
“Finally some life from Devon Alexander,” says Jim Lampley. Despite the strong, controlled pressure finish from the underdog, it’s still tough to give him the round. And unfortunately for ‘The Great’, Mayweather seems to have sussed his plan already. The 35-year old is now in the defensive mode we are used to seeing him in, and is effectively landing counter-punches as Alexander marches forward on the front foot. No matter how hard he tries, he just can’t compete with Mayweather in any field, and as the 12th round finishes, he hangs his head in shame knowing that there is just no way the judges can give him this fight.
Well… They didn’t get the winner wrong, but they certainly haven’t scored it properly. 116-112, 117-111 and 115-114 are the scores, all in favour of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. The correct winner has been announced but the scorecards are just way too close. Most fans, even Team Alexander fans, only gave one round to the Saint Louis native. It’s almost like the last scorecard was given in an attempt to trick the fans who didn’t pay full attention, that this fight was close.
“I’d like a rematch,” says Devon. “Floyd didn’t hurt me once and I believe on another day I can give him a much better fight.” Floyd just grins and shakes his head as Max Kellerman turns to him with a sarcastic look on his face: “What are your thoughts Floyd?”
“My thoughts are that Devon Alexander is a very awkward fighter, but I can assure you, there will be no rematch,” replies Floyd who seems in very good spirits. It’s like those 12 rounds have just convinced him that he’s still got it. “I want Kell Brook next, then I’ll fight twice next year, see how it goes, and we’ll go from there. But right now I’m gonna get a few weeks rest and I’ll see you all back here in September!”
Floyd Mayweather Vs Saul Alvarez – Light-middleweight
“This is a bigger fight than Floyd Vs Pacquiao” says Richard Schaefer when he announces the fight to the fans at a press conference in February. We hear this allegation a lot over the next 3 months with Mayweather smiling and nodding in agreement every time. Canelo nods too although he’s never really sure of what’s actually being said. The 22-year old doesn’t say much during the build-up but he is clearly lacking respect for his legendary opponent. Just like before the Cotto fight, Mayweather, realising his opponent is not the most exciting man outside of the ring, does his very best to make the HBO 24/7′s as interesting as they can possibly be.
One thing that is clear to see from the 24/7 episodes is that both men are training as hard as ever for this fight. At the weigh-in the Mexican fans come out in numbers to support their young hero on the symbolic week end of Cinco De Mayo. Alvarez weighs in at 154lb on his second attempt and Floyd tips the scales at his career-heaviest of 152lb. When the two men face off it is clear to see that the young man has a big size advantage here. And when the two men go head-to-head in the ring for the final time, Canelo’s arms, chest and neck look even bigger than ever.
As the action begins, Max Kellerman asks Larry Merchant, who has come back for one last HBO special, ”Who is going to win this crossroads fight? Will Floyd’s career be ended by the young superstar that is Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez?” Before Max can even finish the sentence, Larry replies with “Yes Max, I think so.”
Both fighters come out hesitantly as the first bell rings. Canelo throws the first few shots, but they all whistle past Floyd Mayweather’s ears. Mayweather has already taken the center of the ring, and shoots out the right hand every time Alvarez tries to get close. With Floyd fighting on the front foot, the young man is clearly confused as to what to do next. He was expecting to come out and bully Floyd on the ropes, but Mayweather looks strong and isn’t going anywhere.
For the first few rounds the same pattern follows. There are some boo’s and jeers coming from the crowd when the 6th round ends and Floyd has taken every one of the six sessions. “WHY ARE YOU NOT THROWING?!” shouts Chepo Reynoso. We then here Canelo mumble something back in Mexican, and his coach just shakes his head.
Clearly aggravated by the crowd and his team’s reaction, Canelo comes out fast in round 7 and just doesn’t stop punching. But his frustration grows when none of them land. Floyd hasn’t actually done much in this fight either, but everything he does is perfect and he’s clearly winning every round. As the 10th round ends, Larry Merchant, who was hoping that his last night commentating was going to be watching Mayweather lose, says “This was meant to be close. But Floyd Mayweather is just too much for this over-matched youngster.” And everyone watching is in agreement. Canelo just hasn’t lived up to the hype that was surrounding him. Or maybe it is that Floyd Mayweather really is unbeatable.
The final two rounds follow the same pattern and on most cards Floyd has won every round. The judges have it a little closer, scoring it 118-110, 118-111, 117-111.
Floyd Mayweather Vs Sergio Martinez – Light-middleweight.
There is a strange buzz around the arena. Usually at the MSG there are thousands of fans “hoping” that Floyd Mayweather loses. But with this one it almost seems like people are expecting him to lose. At the weigh-in the size difference was clear between these two. Martinez, who usually campaigns at middleweight, looked incredibly strong at 154lb, and when they faced off he seemed to almost tower over Floyd, despite only a 2″ difference in height.
Martinez, who fought just under a month ago against Martin Murray in a fight that was pushed back four weeks so this fight could take place, claims to be in the best shape of his life. If we are going by his recent performance then this is definitely true. The 38-year old slugged it out with his British opponent for six rounds and then showed his true class by picking him apart and knocking him out in yes, once again, the magic Round 11, which is beginning to become an unlucky number for British middleweights.
Anyway, onto the action… This is what the fans have all been waiting for. The biggest and most highly-anticipated fight in recent years is finally about to start. Martinez looks like a hungry beast, and Mayweather is his prey. He immediately takes the role of the aggressor, which is something we are not used to seeing from the elusive Argentinian. We see some very good work from both fighters in the first two rounds, and both of them could be scored either way. Cleaner shots from Floyd but higher work rate from Sergio.
Martinez uses his size advantage well in round 3, pushing Mayweather back onto the ropes and unleashing to the body. This is something his trainer has stressed a lot in the pre-fight build-up: “If you can’t hit his head, then go to the body.” And the smart advice seems to be working. Floyd’s shoulder roll can’t keep away the mean hooks that are being flung into his ribs. There are no clear signs of pain, but the 35-year old seems very tired at the end of round 3. His legs also look very heavy when he comes out for round 4, and attempts to take the center of the ring. But ‘Maravilla’ is having none of it. He pushes Mayweather twice and forces him into the ropes. He didn’t even bother with disguising it. He just shoved the ‘Pretty Boy’ flying. The referee warns him, and Floyd shakes his head in astonishment and anger. Martinez just smiles.
The ‘Middleweight King’ seems to have realised that he has the physical, and maybe even mental, edge over his opponent. He dominates the action in the next couple of rounds, but comes nowhere near to hurting Floyd. Round 8 begins and Martinez is starting to build up a lead. Mayweather needs to do something now.
His entire legacy could be on the line here. He anticipates every movement Martinez makes at the start of the round and starts to pick him off effectively. But once again Martinez bulldozes in and nicks the final minute of the round, meaning the round could once again be scored to him. Another close round goes by and Martinez is still expected to be ahead. If Floyd doesn’t do something soon it could potentially be career-damaging. If he does “win” the fight on the judges scorecards, it will still not convince the fans.
Thankfully, he finally gets an opening in round 10. Martinez rushes in with his hands down and leaves himself wide open for a short and sharp left hook. His legs stiffen momentarily and Floyd piles the pressure on. Martinez chooses not to clinch and tries to fight fire with fire. He manages to stay on his feet for the remaining two minutes but he is taking solid shot after solid shot. You could even go as far as scoring it a 10-8 round. The gap is now slightly closer but Mayweather isn’t taking any chances.
He starts the first minute slow but then lands a powerful left hook once again. Martinez, who clearly hasn’t learned his lesson, tries to fight back once again only to be floored by two consecutive right hands. The tough southpaw rises to his feet but looks very unsteady. His team are screaming instructions from the corner. “AGUANTAR! AGUANTAR!” they shout, which means “hold on” in English. But the 37-year old cannot hear anything over the 18,000 screaming fans. Adrenaline is surging through his body and all he wants to do is fight. With 30 seconds left he goes down again, but shoots straight back up once again. But unfortunately he is floored almost immediately after the ref says “box.” It’s over. Martinez cannot get up and Floyd Mayweather has pulled it back and stopped Sergio Martinez with only 11 seconds left on the clock in Round 11!
There is no booing, jeering or complaining from anyone in the arena. There is unanimous respect for the two fighters that just gave us one of the most exciting fights in the history of the sport. The fight has done wonders for both fighters’ legacies. Martinez has proved that he can mix it with the very best. And Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather has shown more heart and courage than we have seen from him before. This will forever go down as one of the most memorable nights in boxing’s eventful history.