By Mike Sloan: Saturday night in Las Vegas was a sensational one for the sport of boxing, that part is unquestioned. The mega event between undisputed pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and Mexican superstar Saul Alvarez smashed live gate revenue records and premature numbers suggest that the Showtime-televised card might set the all-time pay-per-view mark.
But Mayweather’s sensational performance against Alvarez, in which he scored a dominant decision win, was not the only big story from Saturday.
Junior welterweight Danny Garcia proved many critics wrong by dispatching the dangerous and heavily favored Lucas Matthysse via unanimous decision. Garcia was expected by many – this scribe included – to get his block knocked off by the powerful Argentinean but that never happened. Garcia was the one to score a late rounds knockdown and walked away with his perfect professional record still intact, leaving egg all over the face of innumerable self-proclaimed “experts” within the sport.
Immediately following Garcia’s triumph of Matthysse, “Money” Mayweather took young “Canelo” to school and displayed the sort of skills that have made the Las Vegas-based Grand Rapids native an all-time great. Per the norm, questions swirled throughout the MGM Grand as to whom Mayweather would next lock horns, but there wasn’t a concrete name that was the consensus among media and fans. Even Manny Pacquiao, a man so closely tied to Mayweather for years, was only mentioned in passing but without the typical zeal that has accompanied the two future Hall of Famers for the past few years.
One name that seemed to surface more than anybody else, though, was Garcia. The immediate aftermath of two excellent similar-sized fighters both winning via magnificent performances on the same card usually breeds assumptions from the pundits in what they believe is the logical next step. Most appeared to believe that Matthysse would trounce Garcia and that would possibly set up a monumental Mayweather-Matthysse showdown. But since “Swift” threw a school bus-sized wrench into those plans, it was generally agreed that Garcia should probably be next in line for the highest-grossing athlete in all of sports.
The question is, though, is Garcia the worthiest of all competitors to next fight Floyd? The answer is a mixture of yes and no and there are several reasons for both arguments.
For starters, a Mayweather-Garcia duel would do very well in terms of ticket sales, media hype and PPV numbers. Garcia has yet to become a household name and he is nowhere the same level of celebrity as Canelo is, but his win over Matthysse was the highlight of the year’s biggest card. His name is hot right now and with proper promotion - something Golden Boy excels at – a fight between the two would instantly anchor the first half of 2014.
Garcia would be another young, undefeated warrior who would pose a major threat to Mayweather’s perfect ledger, just like Diego Corrales, Ricky Hatton and Alvarez were before him. He’s toppled plenty of big enough names in the sport (Amir Khan, Erik Morales, Zab Judah, Matthysse) and his style is aesthetically pleasing, even to the casual boxing fan who only wants to see heavyweight versions of Arturo Gatti-Gabriel Ruelas. If that’s not enough, the amount of trash talking between the camps, specifically the trainers, would grow to such epic proportions that it would make James Toney look like Marcel Marceau.
Right there, those are reasons alone to make the fight in May.
However, there are just as many reasons as to why the fight should not happen next, most notably the suggestion that Garcia, still only 25, might not quite be ready to take center stage in what would amount to the biggest fight he’d ever be in against arguably the finest fighter of the past 30 years. Garcia is fast and powerful, but even at 36 Mayweather would still be too much for him.
Granted, Garcia has enough power in his fists to wreck Mayweather’s equilibrium and he’s crafty enough to keep the fight much closer than anybody Mayweather has fought since Miguel Cotto. But he’s not exactly Willie Pep on defense and any time he’d open up, Mayweather’s still blurry handspeed would create all sorts of havoc.
The most damning case against a Garcia-Mayweather fight in May is the fact that the “Philly Rican” is just not a big enough star yet. He just scored the biggest win of his career on Saturday and it’d behoove all parties involved to wait until he’s a more well-known commodity outside boxing circles. Canelo was already an established star; Garcia is not. The fight would do well enough on just Mayweather’s star power alone, but it wouldn’t be the sort of mega event that was Mayweather-De la Hoya/Cotto/Mosley/Alvarez. One needs to look no further than Mayweather-Robert Guerrero to have the argument reinforced.
What should happen is for Garcia to tackle the winner of the Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov fight, which should be an all-out war when they clash in October. If not either of those two, the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley matchup would be just as terrific. Garcia would be able to match them in all areas and meeting at 140 or 147 wouldn’t be an issue for any of them. If he gets past any of these four, then it would probably be time to make the Mayweather fight because the promotional firepower behind it would be running on all cylinders.
As for Mayweather, he can fight anybody. If Bradley gets past Marquez, a showdown with him would be dynamite. He could also move up to 160 and tackle either Peter Quillin or Gennady Golovkin, both of which he can outbox. If not any of them, the logical choice would be for him to finally fight Pacquiao, provided he takes out the tough Brandon Rios (if the Oxnard fighter thwarts Pacquiao’s comeback, then a Rios fight would be okay as well).
But there is one man out there that should be talked about the most and that’s middleweight king Sergio Martinez. He’s among the top three or four pound-for-pound in the world and many insiders believe he’d be without question the stiffest challenge of Mayweather’s entire career. Martinez is a big enough name to turn the fight into a guaranteed blockbuster on all levels and aside from Martinez being an extraordinary challenge for the unbeaten king of boxing, time is running out for “Maravilla”. He’ll be 39 in May and he is definitely a beatable opponent for Mayweather. On top of that, it’d give Floyd a chance to become a world champion in his sixth different weight class.
So, hold off on the Mayweather-Garcia talks for now. If he can’t secure a deal with Pacquiao in May for whatever reasons, the most logical choice is for him to try and wrest the undisputed middleweight crown away from Sergio Martinez.
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