Floyd Mayweather: Who's Next and Who's Left (Besides Manny Pacquiao)?

Floyd Mayweather has put Miguel Cotto behind him, so what's next for the still-undefeated superstar? (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Floyd Mayweather improved to 43-0 (26 KO) last night with a decision win over a totally credible, totally game version of Miguel Cotto, facing one of his tougher challenges and actually having to work hard for an entire 12 rounds, clearly winning the fight over a guy who has been a true champion in his career, wasn't too small or too old, and gave a better effort than pretty much all of Floyd's recent opponents (well, pretty much all of Floyd's opponents period) have.

So now that Mayweather vs Cotto is in the rearview mirror, who does Floyd target next?

The quickest thing that needs to be said: Guys, it's not going to be Manny Pacquiao. We'll still talk about every stupid tidbit about that fight that comes up, but it's about 99.6% certain that Mayweather vs Pacquiao will not be coming this year. There is that 0.4% chance it could happen, but it's really, really unlikely.

At 35, Mayweather is now set to enter county jail in Nevada for a 90ish-day sentence that quite frankly will probably wind up being no more than six weeks or so, leaving open the likely return for Mayweather in September, probably on September 15, which is routinely a big fight weekend.

Let's run down his potential opponents, and please remember that everyone at Top Rank (Pacquiao and Tim Bradley, most notably) will not be fighting Mayweather.

Canelo Alvarez

Alvarez's one-sided plastering of worn-out Shane Mosley on Saturday night put the 21-year-old Mexican superstar at 40-0-1 (29 KO) for his career, but HBO said that Oscar De La Hoya isn't looking to put Canelo in with Mayweather next, as he doesn't feel he's quite ready. It's the right call -- there's still an ocean separating Canelo's opposition to date and the likes of Mayweather. Beating up shot Mosley and never-really-was Kermit Cintron is one thing. Mayweather is five levels up from there.

We'll have more on where Alvarez should and might go from here on Monday morning, but Mayweather vs Canelo, while a surefire PPV hit, likely won't be coming to your TV screens in 2012.

Amir Khan

Khan (26-2, 18 KO) looks to regain his 140-pound belts from Lamont Peterson on May 19, and should he be successful, Golden Boy has mentioned making Mayweather vs Khan. Richard Schaefer says he'd like to get Khan a fight at 147 before putting him in with Mayweather, but that just might not be feasible. All this "Mayweather Promotions" stuff is what it is, but it's not Mayweather Promotions providing Floyd's opponent. It's Golden Boy. He's not under contract with OscarCorp, but since beating Oscar in 2007, Mayweather has fought only Golden Boy fighters, except for Cotto, who was a free agent.

The fact that they went out of house to nab Cotto, outbidding and outnegotiating Top Rank (who wanted Cotto for a Pacquiao rematch), tells you that their options are becoming very limited indeed.

Reality is, the 25-year-old Khan has absolutely nothing to lose by fighting Mayweather. If he beats Peterson, then why not fight Floyd? If he loses as everyone would expect, so what? He's already lost twice in his career, he's not protecting a zero. Nobody thinks he's some invincible, future superstar. He is what he is: A good, flawed fighter, generally in fun fights.

Victor Ortiz or Andre Berto

Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KO) had a shot against Mayweather last year, and was infamously "sucker punched" for the knockout. Berto (28-1, 22 KO) will look to avenge his only career loss when he faces Ortiz in a rematch of their 2011 thriller on June 23.

Many may cringe at the idea of an Ortiz rematch, since time has not been kind to his performance in the eyes of most, but the storyline is natural and marketing would be easy. Berto is in an odd position where he, like Mayweather, is promoted by Al Haymon (well, he's promoted by DiBella, but Haymon advises or manages or whatever they're saying it is these days), and Haymon's boys don't fight each other. However, there's only one Floyd Mayweather out there, and I think an exception could be made.

Sergio Martinez

If Martinez could make it down to 154, maybe they'd consider it. Mayweather would have a tough time ignoring all this "Manny didn't beat Cotto for real because it was a catchweight" business if they tried to make Sergio go lower to sign up for a fight. Truthfully, I don't think this fight can happen unless Mayweather loses his mind and gets a little dumber than I think he is with this stuff. It's not that Martinez is so great that he'd definitely destroy Floyd and Floyd's a fraidy-cat who doesn't want to fight him. It's that Martinez has no fanbase, so he isn't worth any more money than, say, Andre Berto, and Mayweather is quite frankly just not a 154-pound fighter. I mean, I don't think anyone really can argue with that. He's done it twice, weighing in at 150 and 151, more or less his walking weight. The 10 oz. gloves at the weight don't suit him either, as they take some snap away from him.

And Martinez is a 5'10" southpaw with a 75" reach, giving him serious physical advantages that Miguel Cotto did not have last night. It would be a stupid fight for Mayweather to make. He could definitely beat Martinez, but if he lost, I think it would feel kind of cheap, because it would be hard for anyone reasonable to resist the logic of pointing out that sure, they met in the middle basically, but Martinez is a truly bigger man. For all it really matters, you might as well ask Mayweather to fight Andre Ward, not because Martinez is as big as Ward, but because Mayweather is that much smaller than Sergio that it doesn't mean a whole lot to add on the inches and pounds that Ward has on Sergio.

Lamont Peterson

If he beats Khan again, who knows? Particularly if he really beats him this time. Peterson isn't with Golden Boy or Top Rank, and could take the fight if the deal was right. The two also had a pretty notorious sparring session a few years ago, with reports going out that Peterson gave Mayweather a hell of a battle, some even saying he put a bit of a hurting on Floyd. Of course, Eddie Murray used to suck in batting practice.

Miguel Cotto

It's not so much that I'd mind seeing it again, but I don't think there's any true demand for it. It's really hard to argue that Cotto was something more than competitive but a clear loser in the fight. It certainly didn't scream "rematch" to me, but if the PPV sales were good enough, it could possibly happen.

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