By Geoffrey Ciani, photo by Naoki Fukuda: Now that Floyd Mayweather has defeated Oscar De La Hoya in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of all-time, it will be interesting to follow his next move. Having accumulated an unblemished record in 38 contests, including 24 victories inside the distance, Mayweather has already established himself as one of the best fighters in his era. He’s won titles in every weight class between 130 and 154 pounds, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest talents the sport has ever known.
What will Mayweather do next?
The way I see things, Floyd has six options. Of the six, it’s extremely likely that he will choose the path with the lowest risk/highest reward. Who can blame him? After all, boxing is not an easy sport, so it makes sense to try and maximize the size of your wallet whenever you can.
Unfortunately for Floyd’s legacy, boxing fans do not care about the risk/reward tradeoff. We just want to see good fights. As such, fans are more concerned about entertainment value and good match-ups. In light of that, here are the six choices I think would have the greatest impact on Mayweather’s legacy:
6. Retirement: In recent times, especially the lead-up to his mega-bout with De La Hoya, Mayweather has been no stranger to the “R” word. In fact, he even claimed he was retired after beating De La Hoya. I’m not buying it. Few fighters retire before they’ve had a fight too many and even fewer retire while in the midst of their prime. Even if Mayweather goes into a self-imposed exile, I’d expect it to be temporary. Of the six possible options, retirement would do the least for his legacy at this point.
5. Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton: This is one people have been talking about ever since Hatton scored an upset victory against Kostya Tszyu. Unfortunately, a couple of things have changed since then. For starters, Hatton has looked less than stellar in subsequent bouts. Rumors recently surfaced suggesting Hatton has been living large and partying like a rock star since beating Tszyu. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of Riddick Bowe’s demise after his first bout with Evander Holyfield. Additionally, these two are now separated by two weight classes, which makes the bout much less attractive than it would have been two years ago. Even still, it’s a better option than retirement.
4. Rematch with Oscar De La Hoya: Sadly, this is the lowest risk/highest reward option, bar none. Nothing would be more lucrative for Mayweather than convincing De La Hoya to give it another go. Not only that, but it’s also doubtful De La Hoya can do anything differently to reverse the outcome of their first encounter. That makes this a very low risk option for the reigning pound-for-pound king. Frankly, I see no reason for a rematch—except the almighty dollar. Hopefully, fans won’t have to endure these two going at it again—but don’t be surprised if they do.
3. Miguel Cotto—Zab Judah winner: I guess what I really mean here, is if Cotto wins, facing Cotto would be a good option. Cotto, like Hatton, is a pressure fighter who may be able to pose some problems for Mayweather, which makes this potentially interesting. Unlike Hatton, Cotto has looked sharp in recent performances and is naturally larger, making him the bigger threat. If Cotto beats Judah, this might be the road sought by the reigning pound-for-pound king. If Judah wins, however, it’s back to the drawing board. Despite all of his talent, Judah lacks the ring intelligence to compete with a pugilist as versatile and skilled as Mayweather.
2. “Sugar” Shane Mosley: This is the fight that really needs to happen. I touched on this yesterday in Forget the rematch with De la Hoya! Bring on Mosley-Mayweather. The title pretty much sums up my feelings on this matter. A showdown between the reigning pound-for-pound king and the former pound-for-pound king might well be the best potential bout in all of boxing. Despite his advanced age, Mosley poses a serious threat to Floyd, and as such, a win against Mosley would do more for Mayweather’s legacy than any of the preceding options.
1. Bernard Hopkins—Winky Wright winner: If there’s one bout that could potentially do more for his legacy than a fight with Mosley, this is it. The question becomes, how high can Floyd go? Can Mayweather realistically fight at 160 pounds (or thereabouts)? I’m not so sure he can, and I’m not so sure including this option is even fair…but what if? What if Floyd took on the winner of these two fellow pound-for-pound talents? Surely, a win against either Wright or (especially) Hopkins would put Floyd’s career in an entirely new perspective. If Mayweather really wants to dare to be great, a bout with the Hopkins-Wright winner will afford him the opportunity.
So, what will Floyd Mayweather do next? Only time will tell…
This article was also published at East Side Boxing