After all the bad publicity, court appearances and alleged ducking, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in perfect position for a potentially masterful maneuver.
If he can beat Victor Ortiz, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan in consecutive bouts, the oft-controversial fighter can cement his legacy as an all-time great once and for all and, at the same time, crush Pacquiao’s place in boxing lore with a giant hammer.
As Pacquiao prepares for a third and likely final match against Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12, the storyline remains the same as always. The Filipino superstar versus an over-the-hill, past-his-time big name – an event that will be forgotten 10 seconds after it ends. Similar to what happened with Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and the other victims, Marquez’s dismantling will no doubt be quick and efficient, but it will also leave a lot of questions regarding why Pacquiao insists on fighting competition that really isn’t any competition at all.
Mayweather, meanwhile, has a fight scheduled against Ortiz on September 17. The match will be the undefeated superstar’s first in over a year, and already, the heavy favorite is starting to feel a little bit like an underdog. Murmurs from all sides -- including Mayweather’s long-time allies -- indicate that Ortiz is in solid position for an upset and that he is a very capable adversary. Fans and critics alike are noting that Mayweather’s propensity for attracting drama may serve as too massive a distraction when coupled with his undeniable rust coming into this match.
Assuming that Mayweather can overcome the challenge that a southpaw 10 years his junior poses, he has already made it abundantly clear that he wants Pacquiao next. So long as the Filipino star agrees to adequate performance enhancing drug testing pre-fight requirements, the superfight that everyone has been waiting for can finally become a reality. Although a bout between the two is almost impossible to call, it’s difficult to not give a little bit of the edge to Mayweather in a potential match against Pacquiao. Mayweather, traditionally at least, has always been a faster and more tactically skilled fighter. What he lacks in Pacquiao-like glitz and a willingness to brawl, he makes up for in substance and a masterful defense.
Finally, if he can pull out a hard-fought win versus Pacquiao, Mayweather’s final target would reportedly be Khan. As talented a fighter as Khan is, he is not on the level of either a Mayweather or a Pacquiao. He would pose a bigger challenge than Ortiz, but not by much.
Mayweather has set some lofty plans for the next year or so, but they make sense. He didn’t come out of retirement for a quick payday, he came out to establish his legacy all the while destroying that of his biggest archrival. By accepting fights against his biggest and most competitive challengers while Pacquiao appears content fighting non-factors, Mayweather is sending a clear and concise message:
The King is here, and he wants his crown back.