Matt Christie evaluates the likelihood of a Floyd Mayweather comeback and considers potential opponents
AFTER a superb amateur career culminated with a 1996 Olympic bronze that deserved to be gold, Floyd Mayweather Jnr spent the next 19 years dazzling, conquering, and almost strangling the life out of professional boxing. There were scintillating showcases of his colossal talent against the likes of Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti and Ricky Hatton. There were rare struggles with Jose Luis Castillo, Zab Judah and Marcos Maidana. There were masterclasses over the brilliant Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and Canelo Alvarez. In the end, with his earnings stratospheric, his age at 38, and no desire to prove more than he already had, he signed off with a forgettable and largely selfish swansong against the undeserving Andre Berto in September 2015. Floyd Mayweather’s record reads 49-0.
WHILE there was a sense of relief at the press conference when Mayweather announced his retirement, the public – particularly in his adopted Las Vegas home – remains enthralled with “Money”. He has retained an army of loyal fans who worship his every move, and will pay a fortune to watch him fight. And there are just as many who will hand over cash in the hope to witness a humbling of the loudest boxing braggart of all time. It should be noted that Mayweather was Box Office gold during the final decade of his career, and with astronomical spending habits, Floyd could certainly be persuaded to return if the money – his key motivator – was right. Also consider the impending opening of the new Las Vegas Arena, and there is a ready-made stage for one of the most lucrative ventures in sporting history.
The Legacy Factor
THIS is not as easy to call. While Mayweather’s gargantuan but delicate ego will not be content to share the historic 49-0 tally with heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano, history dictates that a comeback is unlikely. There have been plenty of greats who have returned after high-profile retirements (think Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali) but very few have walked away with spotless records and come back to risk them. Marciano considered a return but was ultimately talked out of it, no amount of cash could persuade Joe Calzaghe to attempt to better his 46-0 ledger, Ricardo Lopez decided to stick with, and not twist, his unbeaten 52-fight career, while legends Gene Tunney and Carlos Monzon walked away with their world championships intact and never came back. Ultimately Mayweather, whose rehydration methods were called into question at the end, may also decide the risk to his legacy is too great.
The right opponent
THIS could be another sticking point in the supposedly inevitable return. Do not expect a Leonard-esque return against middleweight terror Gennady Golovkin, which would be the public’s first choice. And the hugely disappointing viewing figures that accompanied his final bout against Berto suggest he will not be allowed to return against anyone he pleases. Despite the disappointing nature of their first bout, a rematch with Pacquiao would do big business. Manny’s infamous shoulder injury could persuade plenty that a sequel would be more competitive, and there is every chance the Filipino will look outstanding against Timothy Bradley in April. And though all parties have confirmed the fraught negotiations took their toll first time round, the money earned would be a strong motivator to sit down at the table again. And crucially, Mayweather will be rightfully convinced he has the beating of Manny, making it a low-risk, high-reward contest. Other names who could emerge are former victims Alvarez and Cotto, and if loudmouth Adrien Broner beats Mayweather’s own Ashley Theophane in February or March, he too becomes a viable rival for Floyd.
Will he or won’t he?
Yes. While Mayweather has remained committed to retirement so far, it appears certain he will fight again. With the Las Vegas Arena waiting for him, the public willing to line his pockets with gold, Mayweather’s desire to get richer and to 50-0 almost guarantee his return. Whether you like it or not, Floyd could be set to steal the boxing headlines yet again in 2016.