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Floyd Mayweather Jr. vanquished Conor McGregor on Saturday night in the 10th round of a fight that somehow managed to exceed even the loftiest (and some say biased) expectations despite featuring one of the best boxers of all time and a newbie to the sport.
Whatever else you may think of it, the bout was a beautiful spectacle and full of the drama fans demand in a game where you’re always one punch from the end.
Mayweather, now 50-0, vowed to retire following the fight, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, comments he doubled down on once the dust settled at the T-Mobile Arena.
But should he? And will he?
Or will the allure of hundreds of millions of dollars draw him back once again?
Let’s look at his five best options, including a couple of potential enticing matchups.
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This one is obligatory.
Nobody expected the chatter of an intersport matchup between the kings of boxing and mixed martial arts to amount to hands being thrown in a ring, but it did, and it was glorious drama at its best.
It was a circus in the lead-up but a fun night once the bell rang.
You can hate it, but facts aren’t subject to opinion.
Expectations—both for the fight and McGregor—were low, yes, but they were exceeded in a big way.
And both men made a ton of money.
Floyd pocketed a minimum of $100 million, while Conor’s check will be at least $30 million, per Simon Samano of MMAJunkie. Those numbers will balloon when pay-per-view (expected to be substantial) and live gate receipts are tallied up.
Expectations are that Floyd will total somewhere near three times his purse (in the neighborhood of $300 million) and Conor north of $100 million, per the fighters (via MMAJunkie). Not bad for less than a half-hour of in-ring work.
Nothing else exists for either man that can bring home that kind of cash.
And they can sell a rematch based on the “exceeds expectations” curve most fans probably graded Saturday’s bout on after expecting a wipeout of embarrassing proportions.
It probably won’t happen, but with those dollar figures, you can’t dismiss it entirely.
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Mayweather played games with Canelo Alvarez in their 2013 megafight, winning virtually every second of every round en route to a majority-decision victory that had no business being anything but unanimous.
Judge C.J. Ross spawned years of Twitter memes for her ineptitude on that night, but luckily the right man had his hand raised.
Canelo has improved, but we’ve seen that show before, and it was tactical brilliance of the highest order from Mayweather. You could easily argue that it was his most complete performance in a career filled with such nights.
The more attractive option would be if Gennady Golovkin beats Canelo on September 16. He’d become the lineal middleweight champion with a ton of hardware and as good a claim as any to pound-for-pound supremacy.
Would that be enough to draw Floyd back into the game?
Legacy matters to him, after all. He’s 50-0 and could walk away now owing nothing.
But, what about the chance to cement perception one final time by challenging the sport’s biggest boogeyman for one of boxing’s glamour titles?
Admittedly, Floyd doesn’t need this or any other future fights to add to his legacy. His critics will always be his critics—never satisfied—and his supporters will always be fanatical in having his back against any perceived slights.
This is not a fight you should expect, and it’s probably not one Floyd should be expected to take, but if he did?
Hell of a cherry on top of his legacy, win or lose.
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Errol Spence Jr. is the best young fighter in the sport.
The 27-year-old looks like he has all the pieces to be a generational talent.
Comparisons to Mayweather are widespread and unfair, as they are to every young fighter. But one can see their justification, particularly when it comes to the big-fight composure Spence demonstrates every time out.
His recent championship win over Kell Brook is the perfect example.
Elite champion? Fighting on his home turf? Entire crowd stacked against you?
Spence weathered some early attacks from Brook, who you could have argued was the top 147-pound fighter in the world heading into the fight. The challenger surged late in a bout that became increasingly one-sided as it steamed toward a knockout.
Granted, the welterweight division is a stacked neighborhood.
But, with all due respect to Keith Thurman (a unified champ), Danny Garcia (a former two-division champ), Shawn Porter and all the rest, there is nobody like Spence.
How would Spence’s speed and explosiveness to his target stack up with a cerebral defensive master such as Mayweather?
We’d love to find out.
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Isaac Brekken/Associated Press
One of boxing’s oldest adages is that it’s virtually impossible for a fighter to stay away.
You see it all the time.
Guys hanging on for one fight too long. Coming back for one fight too many.
Mayweather once again reiterated that he was done as an in-ring competitor in his post-fight comments Saturday, but we’ve heard that plenty of times from plenty of fighters.
We’ve even heard it before from Mayweather.
He stayed clear of boxing for nearly two years after defeating Ricky Hatton in 2007, killing a highly lucrative rematch with Oscar De La Hoya in the process. But he came back in 2009 to beat Juan Manuel Marquez and stayed active until a 2015 shutout of Andre Berto.
Floyd once again retired, keeping clear of the ring until McGregor and the promise of hundreds of millions more in his bank account drew him back.
Smart money says that won’t be the case here, so long as he stays clear of the tax man.
That’s a fight that has knocked out plenty of great athletes in the past.
Otherwise, it’s time to go. Ride off into the sunset and mean it.
There’s nothing left to prove.
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Lost in all of the talk over money and records is one indisputable, crucial fact about Mayweather’s career: The man was always a professional when it came to handling his responsibilities in the sport.
He always handled his business.
He was always prepared and in top shape for his fights.
He never half-assed it.
Those are the lessons that any young fighter who followed his career should take heed of.
Mayweather Promotions, with the biggest name in the industry behind it and huge financial resources, gives him the opportunity to put a good amount of time into finding the “next Floyd Mayweather,” as he repeatedly stated was his goal at the post-fight presser.
He’s got a good, young stable to cultivate, including former super featherweight titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
Davis looks like a blue-chip talent, but he missed weight and turned in an uninspired performance vs. Francisco Fonseca on Saturday, showboating and winning by knockout on what looked to be a clear foul.
That’s anti-Floyd stuff.
It’s the opposite of what made him a huge, transformational superstar.
Whatever you think of him, and there has been debate on both sides, Mayweather brought unprecedented amounts of attention on the sport of boxing. If he’s truly gone from the ring, that’s a huge loss for the sport.
Finding the next Mayweather is something boxing will need to grapple with.
The game always needs a star, and who better to find it and cultivate it than the man himself.