The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Feb. 10

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Feb. 10

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    Manny Pacquiao is all smiles, but does he still have the hunger in the ring?
    Manny Pacquiao is all smiles, but does he still have the hunger in the ring?Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    There's a big week ahead in boxing, so let's get right to it.

    In this week's edition of top storylines, we review Floyd Mayweather's latest publicity stunt/stroke of promotional brilliance, question whether or not Manny Pacquiao still has the hunger and then take him to task for even discussing any fight but the one he has scheduled for April 12.

    Danny Garcia has named his next foe. Who is it? And should boxing fans be excited?

    Finally, we'll assess the never-ending stream of heavyweight fighters who are willing to accept Tyson Fury's challenge, only to withdraw a few days before the fight.

    Consider yourself armed!

    These are the top boxing storylines for the week of February 10.

Will the Fans Really Determine Floyd Mayweather's Next Opponent?

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    Floyd has millions of reasons to smile, and he says he'll let the fans select his next foe.
    Floyd has millions of reasons to smile, and he says he'll let the fans select his next foe.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Floyd Mayweather is boxing's pound-for-pound king, and he knows better than anyone how to market himself to the masses. 

    Never shy about using his presence on various social media platforms to create interest/angst, Mayweather may have outdone even himself this past week, when he announced on Twitter (h/t The Ring Magazine) that he would allow the fans to select the opponent for his May 3 date at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    All you need to do is click your way over to the man they call "Money" Mayweather's website and select from the available fighters. Give the site access to your Facebook and Twitter pages, and bang—you can become a part of boxing history. 

    But don't get too excited, because your choices are limited.

    Behind the first door sits former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan. The mere mention of him as a potential opponent has got many boxing fans in a snit, and given the Brit's shaky chin and .500 record in his last four fights, you can't really blame them.

    If he isn't your particular brand of vodka, then you might choose to vote for current WBA welterweight champion Marcos Maidana. I'll say this for the rugged Argentine: at least he's scored a few quality wins of late.

    Maidana unseated Mayweather's protege—via Boxing News 24, he refers to him affectionately as "little brother"—Adrien Broner to capture his first welterweight title in December. Recently and against Mayweather's advice, "The Problem" exercised an immediate rematch clause, and he hopes to face Maidana sometime in the spring.

    If Maidana were selected to face Mayweather, he could—and likely would have to—drop the WBA belt to spurn Broner for the considerably larger payday.

    Interestingly enough, there is no available option to select other or none of the above. 

    You can call this a marketing ploy (which it is) or a legitimate method of getting the fans involved (which it isn't), but it's certainly interesting, and it has people talking.

    And that, more than anything else when it comes to Floyd Mayweather, is exactly the point. 

Why Is Manny Pacquiao Focusing on Other Fights?

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    Pacquiao better start focusing all his attention on Timothy Bradley.
    Pacquiao better start focusing all his attention on Timothy Bradley.Associated Press

    Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley made stops in Los Angeles and New York City this past week to build interest for their rematch on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    Bradley's WBO Welterweight Championship, which he won in highly controversial fashion over Pacquiao in their first fight nearly two years ago, will be the prize for the victor.

    But with all the stories about Pacquiao that keep floating around in the media, you have to question if the Filipino icon has his head in the right place, or if he's overlooking his foe.

    By now, if you pay any attention to the world of boxing, or even if you just read this piece on a weekly basis, you’ve heard about Pacquiao's famous attempt to goad Mayweather into a bout by suggesting they compete for charity, according to BoxingScene.com. 

    Then, while in New York City doing interviews for his upcoming bout with Bradley, Pacquiao was asked by ESPN's Keith Olbermann whether he would ever face Mayweather in the ring.

    Per ESPN's Dan Rafael, Pacquiao's response can be boiled down to basically this: If he calls, we'll listen, and we'll fight. 

    Now, in his defense, he was asked the question. He didn't bring it up and didn't walk into it. 

    The problem, to these eyes at least, was his answer. He just signed a contract to fight a guy who beat him—granted it was bogus but still—and the fact that he's even entertaining the notion of a fight with someone else is a problem.

    If Pacquiao doesn't get by Bradley—and it's not a guarantee he will—then all other potential fights become academic.

    Asking fighters a question about their next fight—while training for their upcoming one—is so common that it seems like they’ve all memorized a stock answer meant to duck, dodge and deflect. 

    You'll usually hear something about not wanting to look ahead, having to take care of business one fight at a time or how they're focused on the guy in front of them.

    That's all Pacquiao had to say, and he didn’t.

    Here's hoping—for his sake at least—that he isn't looking past Bradley toward anyone else.

    If he is, he'll lose.

Has Manny Pacquiao Lost His Fire?

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    Manny Pacquiao hasn't stopped a foe since 2009.
    Manny Pacquiao hasn't stopped a foe since 2009.Vincent Yu/Associated Press/Associated Press

    WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley seems to have gotten under Manny Pacquiao's skin. 

    The fighters made stops in Los Angeles and New York City last week to do a series of press events for their April 12 rematch, and Bradley hardly missed an opportunity to point out that he feels his opponent is no longer hungry in the ring.

    "Pacquiao is really talented, but I feel that his hunger is not there," Bradley told Bleacher Report on Thursday. 

    "He’s mad because I said I feel it’s not there. But I can ask all of you. Does it look like it’s there? Is that the old Pacquiao that you’re seeing?"

    It's an excellent question, and if you forced most fans to give you an answer on the spot, few but the fiercest of Pacquiao partisans would be willing to give you an unequivocal yes.

    At his peak, Pacquiao was a dynamo. He walked into the ring and attacked his opponent from every angle imaginable. His punches came so fast and with so much force that many a foe took the beating of their life.

    Just ask Oscar De La Hoya, who will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this summer, what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a Pacquiao beating. It was his last fight in the ring.

    But the Filipino icon hasn't shown that devastating style in quite a while now. His last stoppage victory came against Miguel Cotto all the way back in late 2009.

    Of his last seven fights, six have gone the distance, and in the one that didn't, Juan Manuel Marquez stopped him in the sixth. 

    Even against Brandon Rios in November, Pacquiao looked solid but nothing like the man who once set the boxing world on fire with his stupefying offensive weapons. He never had Rios, a tough but limited former lightweight champion, in any significant danger, and he didn't press for a knockout. 

    So Bradley's question is definitely legitimate, and it's up to Pacquiao to prove him wrong.

Is Danny Garcia's Next Fight a Letdown?

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    Garcia tamed a beast named Lucas Matthysse in his last fight, but is his next bout a letdown after that?
    Garcia tamed a beast named Lucas Matthysse in his last fight, but is his next bout a letdown after that?Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    It must have been interesting to be unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia in the weeks and months leading up to his September 2013 clash against Argentine terminator Lucas Matthysse.

    So many people were willing to write him off—not going to point fingers at myself here—that it seemed that the question was less of whether Matthysse would win and more of how badly he'd hurt Garcia in the process.

    And then something really surprising happened.

    Garcia won the fight.

    In the best performance of his career to this point, Garcia outboxed Matthysse effectively from the outside, blunting his attack and even getting the best of him in the close-quarters exchanges that are the hallmark of the Argentine's powerful style. 

    When the scorecards were read, Garcia had won a well-earned victory and immediately jumped to the front of the pack among potential future challengers for pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. 

    Garcia recently announced his next fight, and per Golden Boy Promotions, he'll defend his WBA/WBC Junior Welterweight Championship against Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico on March 15.

    Herrera (20-3, 7 KO) is known for being a light hitter, but he did score a legitimate decision victory over the suddenly peaking WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov in 2011.

    He has also won just two of his last four bouts, both against journeymen-level fighters, and was pretty clearly outpointed by Karim Mayfield and Mike Alvarado over that stretch.

    Maybe it's a little unfair to Garcia, but this fight feels disappointing. 

    You can argue that he's earned an easy one after back-to-back tough fights with Matthysse and Zab Judah, but nothing about this match says it’s compelling.

What Is Tyson Fury Doing?

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    Are Fury and Chisora fighting on the same card to set up a rematch?
    Are Fury and Chisora fighting on the same card to set up a rematch?Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    It seems like forever since we've seen British heavyweight contender Tyson Fury inside a ring.

    To be more precise, it's been almost a full year. 

    Granted, a lot of that had to do with the three-ring circus that his on-again, off-again fight with fellow Brit David Haye devolved into. Maybe that’s being a tad unfair. It didn’t devolve; it was always that way.

    Fury will return to the ring on Saturday night against Joey Abell.

    Abell (29-7, 28 KO) is an American heavyweight who is known for his punching power, but to say that most of the fighters he's beaten have been putrid would be an understatement. 

    All jokes aside, it appears that he's feasted on a veritable who's who of who’s that.

    The funny part is, usually when a fighter is forced to withdraw this close to a fight—the heavily tattooed Gonzalo Omar Basile was the original foe for Fury but came down with a lung infection—someone pulled off the proverbial scrap heap replaces him. 

    And Abell fits that description, but he's not much worse—if even worse at all—than Basile. 

    The truth is that neither of these fights is remotely compelling, and Fury, even for a comeback fight, should have done better.

    Hopefully a rumored rematch, per The Guardian, with Dereck Chisora, who will appear on the same card against Kevin Johnson, will come next.

    Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.