So, it’s over.
Elated? Disappointed? I guess that depends on your expectations going into the fight billed as ‘The Fight of the Century’.
I won’t delve into the match-up too much. I’ve already given my two cents on it (which you can see here) and as the hype for this super fight was built on what had preceded it, let’s stop looking into the past and look to the future.
Are these fighters done with each other? I would say unequivocally that yes, they are. Floyd Mayweather Jr. left no doubt as to his superiority over Manny Pacquiao regardless of the scorecards or Mayweather’s tactics.
So where next? Or to quote former heavyweight contender Sam Peter, who next? Or to quote Sam Peter correctly, who nex’?!?!
It’s almost weird to think that the world’s best fighters has pretty much run out of options and potential opponents, but that seems the case to me at least.
The build-up to Floyd fighting Manny Pacquiao was so huge, and had gone on for so long this seems like the culmination of his career and the perfect time to retire.
With one fight left on his Showtime contract that isn’t an option.
Sure, there are some good quality contenders in the welterweight division. IBF belt holder Kell Brook is a talented fighter, but brings no real name value outside of the UK and–much more importantly–little money to the table with the man called ‘Money’.
Amir Khan has fought much more often in the US than Brook has, but if Floyd is sticking to his schedule and wants to cap his career off in September then Ramadan will put paid to that. Amir Khan–a Muslim–will not be able to get ready by the time Floyd’s next free diary date comes up, and as much as Khan has begged for the fight he isn’t enough of a star or draw that Floyd is going to change his plans to fight him.
Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is the most interesting stylistic proposition to me, and as he is advised by Al Haymon–one of Mayweather’s team and a powerful figure in boxing–a bout between Thurman and Mayweather might be reasonably easy to make. But Thurman hasn’t quite got the name to take on Floyd, although with his ability to talk up a fight it may be relatively easy to put him in a position that he can hype it up. Al Haymon and his ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ outfit–which stages shows which are televised on NBC among other stations–has the platform to sell Thurman as a serious threat to Floyd Mayweather to a large audience.
Thurman is already known to NBC viewers for his stirring battle with Robert Guerrero, who is also known as a previous Mayweather opponent. With a snappy highlight reel made up of Thurman’s biggest knockout victories inter-cut with Mayweather teeing off on Guerrero and ending with Thurman dropping him? It may not fool you or I, but casual boxing fans are easily swayed (if they haven’t been put off by Mayweather’s clinical display against Pacquiao anyway)
If Mayweather holds firm on his promise to ditch all of his world title belts, it may be that there is little point in him fighting just another contender. While it’s also true that Floyd doesn’t need belts to sell a fight–nor to legitimise them as a true title fight–it may be that he has another fight in mind.
Whether that’s a glorified exhibition against a ‘name’ opponent or a challenge for Miguel Cotto’s WBC middleweight championship (a problematic scenario given Mayweather’s allegiance to Al Haymon and Cotto being backed by Roc Nation Sports and Jay-Z, who doesn’t get along with Haymon) who knows?
Bad Left Hook head honcho Scott Christ explores these and other options over at SB Nation in this piece right here.
Whatever happens, it’s Floyd Mayweather. In the sport he excels at he has earned the right to fight whoever he likes.
Their are a few narratives that have emerged from the super fight, and sadly none of them are about what a great fight it was.
Manny Pacquiao’s lowered work-rate is one of the main talking points. Is it because Mayweather dictated the pace and range? (Answer: Yes.) Is it because Pacquiao was injured? Quite possibly, though he seemed fine throwing his arms up confidently at the weigh-in and when he got his shots off looked as good as he always does.
Was it a mix of the above added to the fact that Manny Pacquiao is getting old? Quite possibly.
So who can he fight next? Not unlike Mayweather, there is no higher plane for Pacquiao to try and reach now he has taken part in the biggest money fight in boxing history, but unlike Floyd there are questions Pacquiao needs to answer.
My preferred opponent for ‘Pacman’ would be Ruslan Provodnikov. Sure, they spar with each other and Freddie Roach trains both (although Provodnikov doesn’t always have Roach in his corner when he fights) but both are coming off of losses and although Provodnikov–like Brandon Rios in 2013–favours Pacquiao stylistically, he is also a very game opponent who pushes the pace and would make for an entertaining fight.
Further down the line there are potentially more interesting fights for Pacquiao than you could think of for Mayweather. A fifth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez would be edge-of-your-seat stuff, although Marquez is struggling with the pains of a 21-year career and has previously stated he wanted to leave his rivalry with Pacquiao on his own terms (I.e blasting Pacquiao into unconsciousness).
I think a very interesting fight for Pacquiao could end up as a real passing of the torch. Terence Crawford has won titles at lightweight and light welterweight, and looks a remarkably composed fighter considering his only having had 26 professional bouts and really only having stepped up his level of competition two years ago. Promoted by Bob Arum–and tipped for big things–a bout with Pacquiao will either be the moment Crawford steps up to the plate and proves himself the next big star of boxing, or another high-class scalp for the ageing warrior from the Philippines to take with him into the Hall-of-Fame.
Leo Santa Cruz and Vasyl Lomachenko
These two have been favourites of the hardcore boxing fans for years. Lomachenko for his peerless amateur record which included two Olympic gold medals, and Santa Cruz for his quintessentially Mexican style and never-say-die attitude.
Depending on what you knew of them beforehand you may have been underwhelmed last night. Lomachenko, who currently holds the WBO featherweight championship (a title he won after just three fights, equaling a long standing record set by Saensak Muangsurin in the 70’s) complained incessantly about low blows and toyed with his opponent, which must have felt like he was toying with the audience waiting to see one fight and one fight only.
And that fight wasn’t Leo Santa Cruz vs. Jose Cayatano. Cayatano, reportedly an insurance salesman when he isn’t partaking in a bit of the ol’ face punching, did far better than he was expected to, and that is more of damning evidence that Leo Santa Cruz is doing something wrong in his preparation. Either that, or he is already past his prime, which is worrying considering he is still only 26 years old but not unprecedented for a fighter who tends to use his face to block punches.
I do hope that if you watched these two fighters on the undercard that you liked them. Lomachenko is a truly exceptional technical boxer who does things I haven’t seen in the ring in many years. Santa Cruz–despite appearing to fight to the level of his opponent–was fun and aggressive as always, and will always be in good fights going forward.
For Lomachenko I pick a durable South African called Simpiwe Vetyeka. You may know him for fighting former pound-for-pound star Nonito Donaire recently, and he is a very skilled and crafty fighter who will cause Lomachenko a few problems. You can find out more about why I feel this would be a good styles clash here, in a piece I wrote for Bad Left Hook.
For Santa Cruz, it seems the wheels are already in motion for him to fight former three-weight world champion Abner Mares, but I would like for him to move back down to super bantamweight and fight British standout Scott Quigg. You can find more on why I feel this would be a slobberknocker here, also at Bad Left Hook.
Who do you think Floyd and Manny should fight next? Anybody who says ‘each other in a rematch’ will never be taken seriously by me again, but all other suggestions are welcome.
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