March 13th could still be a huge day for the sport of boxing.
Manny Pacquiao has settled on Joshua Clottey after attempts to make a slightly more interesting third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez failed. Marquez, in a stunning change of heart, reportedly turned down a third fight with Pacquiao because he wanted him to take the same type of blood tests that Floyd Mayweather Jr. had requested.
Regardless, Clottey and Pacquiao should still be a fun fight, especially in Cowboys Stadium, and I had been looking forward to it. That is until the Mayweather camp revealed that since they had the MGM Grand booked already, they were going to go ahead with a fight.
This means that in a very strange turn of events, we may still have the sport's two top draws fighting on the 13th, just not against each other. My first reaction was a bit of shock, but the more I think about it, I think it will be great for boxing from a publicity sense, with a lot of talk in the press about which man performs better and who gets the larger viewing audience.
Now it is up to Floyd to pick the right fight, and that is not rumored opponent Nate Campbell. Campbell (33-5-1, 25 KO) is a fine fighter, but he really provides no interest in this situation. He is too small (never weighed in as high as 140), too old at 37, and far too unknown to excite any mainstream fans.
A Mayweather-Campbell fight is a tune up for Floyd, and a slightly dangerous one at that, because Campbell is a smart veteran boxer. I see virtually no reward and some risk in this fight for Mayweather, and outside of Campbell's immediate family, there can't be many boxing fans eager to see it.
The first of the three better choices that have been rumored is Paulie Malignaggi (27-3-0 5 KO.) I know, I know, action fight fans out there probably just died of boredom even thinking about this matchup. However, even though I don't think Paulie has a prayer against Mayweather, you would get to see some good technical boxing, as both men have plenty of speed and technique to go around.
The real reason this fight works is because of promotional opportunities. The two men have both been at the center of accusations of steroid use by Pacquiao, and I can see them making a huge deal about taking blood tests, telling everyone how THIS is the fight where nobody is cheating, etc.
Sleazy as that may seem to Pacquiao fans, it will help to sell the fight. This may be Floyd's whole goal, just to ruin Pacquiao's night without even meeting him in the ring.
From an actual challenge stand point, the other two opponents that have been discussed are the real deal.
Kermit Cintron (32-2-1 28 KO) is a big, powerful boxer. This is the type of guy that people have said could beat Floyd ever since Mayweather's close call in his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo.
Cintron is ranked second by BoxRec at light middleweight, and if Mayweather were to step up and face him at 154, he could shut up a lot of critics who have been saying he wants no part of bigger fighters.
The fight that I would get most excited about, however, is Timothy Bradley (25-0-0 11 KO.) Bradley is an exciting young fighter who may not have huge power, but has immense skill and athletic ability.
He may be one guy that has a prayer of trying to outbox the ultimate pure boxer in Mayweather.
I have seen some writers accuse Mayweather of attempting to get a smaller man in the ring with Bradley, but a closer look will tell you that "Desert Storm" actually began his career at welterweight and has fought there several times.
Of the four potential opponents discussed, Bradley is the only one that I think you can legitimately say would be a bigger fight than Pacquiao-Clottey. To me, Mayweather-Cintron is about equal in terms of appeal, and the other two are basically a gimmick fight (Malignaggi) and an excuse to get Floyd in the ring (Campbell.)
It will be interesting to see what decision Team Mayweather makes here, but here is hoping he goes with Bradley, a matchup of maybe the biggest man in boxing and one of boxing's next big things.
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