Max Kellerman is always armed with an opinion, and like any good debater, two or three responses if somebody comes back at him with a counter. TSS always enjoys a chat with the passionate, intense New Yorker, who can always be relied on to furnish a stance, and then back it up with ample evidence.

Manny Steward worked analysis on the last HBO show (Pacquiao vs. Diaz), and we found ourselves thinking, “What would Max think?” So we reached out to Max, and fired some queries at him. We do the same now and again with Larry Merchant, in a segment we call “More Merchant.” We plan on touching base with Max now and again, and getting his thoughts on the theater of the unexpected. Here’s Installment 1 of “4 Question Flurry: More Max.”

Q) Is Pacman, coming off his win over David Diaz, the top guy in the sport, pound for pound?

Yes. I have to put in a caveat, he was in with a good fighter, not a world beater, in Diaz. Hey, Mayweather fought Gatti, of course he’s going to look excellent. Now, Calzaghe is in the mix, he was in against Hopkins, who he has a great body of work, but if he does fight Roy, that might hurt his standing in the pound for pound ranking. Even if it is a business decision, that’s the sort of decision we make all the time in life. You don’t penalize a guy because he takes stiffer competition, and doesn’t look great, as Calzaghe did. But Manny is the top, in absence of Floyd.

Q) Now, if Cotto beats Margarito on July 26, in impressive fashion, does he leapfrog Pacquiao, as top pound for pounder?

Max) I don’t think so. Cotto’s fight with Mosley could’ve gone either way. Now, I think Marquez beat Pacquiao twice, but Marquez seems closer to his peak than does Mosley. But Pacquiao has risen in modern history, from flyweight to lightweight, and that’s a historical accomplishment. Back to Cotto…Cotto/Margarito on paper looks like a welterweight Corrales/Castillo. It titillates me to think about that when the bell rings. If Cotto beats Margarito he is the welterweight champion of the world, though Paul Williams may have something to say on that. Now, if Cotto beats Margarito, then I think Oscar will fight Cotto. Oscar has the heart of a lion, he’s an extremely tough guy who’s been penalized because he’s not Sugar Ray Leonard. He takes on challenges, and competes with, but doesn’t always win, against the very best. Sugar Ray beat Hagler, Hearns, Duran, Benitez. If Cotto takes on Oscar, I think Oscar has a chance to win. Cotto was even with Mosley, and Mosley is no better than De La Hoya.

Does Wladimir Klitschko need to win in a certain fashion on July 12 against Tony Thompson to keep from being rendered irrelevant, or, more irrelevant? And has his strategy of trying to collect all the belts been a wise move?

Max) Wlad makes so much money with his own promotional company, German TV, American TV, so realistically, business-wise, no, he doesn’t need to win a certain way. In terms of American boxing fans, yes. Sam Peter is the one guy, if Wlad meets him again and beats him, he is universally regarded as the heavyweight champion. If a Peter fight doesn’t come off, then every fight Wladimir is in becomes only a debate for guys like us.

Is Floyd Mayweather coming back?

Max) Listen, Floyd has the Mayweather brand. UFC fans know him, WWE fans, reality TV fans, they all know him. His brand is “the best” in the world, record breaker at the gate. In a rematch with Oscar, what was the upside? It wouldn’t do as much business, so that might hurt the brand. If he loses, and his father beats him, he wouldn’t be able to handle that. And there’s the issue of him cutting off his father’s legs, not getting the payday… If Cotto beats Margarito, and fights Oscar, and Oscar wins, Floyd will fight again, in a superfight, Cinco de Mayo, 2010.

FYI Kellerman will be working the Cotto/Margarito fight, as well as the Judah/Clottey fight, on August 2.