In September he announced his retirement from the sport of boxing.
He went out at a time while he was accepted and recognized as its biggest star and draw. In addition to that he equaled Rocky Marciano’s record of 49 consecutive wins without a defeat set in 1955. So it was fitting Floyd Mayweather 49-0 (25) tied the record nine days shy of the date when Marciano set it. And ever since Mayweather announced his retirement in the ring that night after beating Andre Berto, not a single soul has bought that we’ve seen him fight for the last time….and you can count me among that group.
Marciano’s record is one of those rare records that almost all sports fans were aware of, 49-0 (43). Call me a cynic, but 50-0 is much cleaner and easier to remember for historians and fans, and we know how desperately Floyd wants to be remembered. I’ve said for a majority of Mayweather’s career that he’ll be a week-old ghost seven days after he retires, and I still believe that for reasons I won’t go into now. However, if he stretches his record to 50-0, that’ll be pretty hard to forget and some will even view it as a benchmark for greatness regarding the next generation of fighters to come along. So 50-0 will keep his name around for generations to come, something that no one can dispute.
Basically, everyone who follows boxing believes that Floyd will fight at least once more. What we don’t know is who the opponent will be. We know it can’t be another Andre Berto. No, it has to be a recognizable opponent that the public will buy, especially after the debacle his last two bouts against Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto turned out to be. Some have maintained that the only opponent Mayweather could fight to enhance his legacy at this stage of his career is middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31). This is something I was on board with until recently grasping that there is another option.
Aside from fighting Golovkin there is another path for Mayweather to make history and break Marciano’s record in one night, and that is to fight the winner of the Miguel Cotto vs. Saul Alvarez lineal middleweight title bout later this month.
Right now the thought among boxing insiders is the winner of Cotto-Alvarez will fight Golovkin next year for the undisputed middleweight title. This of course would blow up in a New York minute if Mayweather announces he wants the winner. If you’re Canelo or Miguel, you’d surely leave Gennady at the altar for the chance to fight Mayweather again because it makes perfect dollars and sense. Both Miguel and Saul have faced Mayweather and lost lopsided decisions, although Cotto was more competitive. They know they’d make three times more money fighting Mayweather than they would Golovkin, and they’d have a better chance to win and much better odds of not getting embarrassed or knocked out in a spectacular fashion.
On the other hand, if you’re Mayweather, fighting the Cotto-Alvarez winner makes more sense and adds to your legacy more than fighting Manny Pacquiao in a rematch. If Floyd fought Manny again, what would he gain historically? I say nothing. If you haven’t figured out yet that Floyd holds the size, strength and style advantage over Manny, stop watching boxing immediately because you are wasting your time.
However, the dynamics change if he fights the Cotto-Alvarez winner for the lineal middleweight title.
It’s a fact that only one fighter in boxing history has won the lightweight title and then went onto win the middleweight title. His name is Roberto Duran and he’s one of the top-10 greatest pound-for-pound fighters in history. And Duran beat a big middleweight in Iran Barkley to win the title. Barkley eventually moved up to fight as a light heavyweight and heavyweight. On the other hand, Cotto and Alvarez are barely middleweights and are fighting at 155. How great would that be for Mayweather to gain the middleweight title fighting a junior welterweight in Cotto’s case or a junior middleweight in Alvarez’s case? Actually both scenarios have Mayweather written all over them.
Floyd can fight for the lineal middleweight title against an opponent, regardless of who wins, that only weighs 155, and can claim his sixth title at age 39 in his 50th bout. How sweet would that be for Mayweather’s real farewell fight to equal Duran as the only former lightweight title holder to capture the middleweight title, and doing it at age 39, two years older than when Duran beat Barkley.
I say Mayweather has three options for his 50th bout: 1) a rematch with Pacquiao. But that would be a hard sell and there’s nothing to gain in beating Manny again. 2) He could fight Golovkin but that’s too risky and he might go out the way Michael Spinks did against Mike Tyson. Like Mayweather, Spinks was undefeated and in over half of his bouts there was a title on the line and he won every one. Wrongly, today he is remembered for getting brutalized by a prime Mike Tyson in his final bout. Or 3) He fights the Cotto-Alvarez winner, he’d be a big favorite over both, and in his 50th bout he becomes the lineal middleweight champ and walks away for good with his health, wealth and title.
If we know anything about Mayweather, only option three applies.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com