Exit Strategy: Floyd Mayweather's future as his career winds down

Kevork Djansezian

Floyd Mayweather isn't getting any younger, and he knows it. He has just a few fights left on his contract with Showtime, and says he'll leave the sport when that deal ends. Who could he face over the next two years?

Floyd Mayweather has four fights left on a six-fight deal he signed with Showtime and CBS Sports in early 2013, including his scheduled May 3 bout with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Having recently turned 37 years of age, Mayweather (45-0, 26 KO) says he's planning to finish out that deal and hang up the gloves.

If he were to fight four more times and retire at 49-0, that would tie the legendary mark set by heavyweight great Rocky Marciano from 1947-55. "The Brockton Blockbuster" fought his last fight 20 days after turning 32 in 1955, beating Archie Moore at Yankee Stadium via ninth round knockout.

Whether or not Mayweather's record matches up to the résumés of the stars of yesteryear is up for another tiresome debate that could largely depend on how old you are. But if Mayweather sticks to his guns and hangs up the gloves after these next four bouts, which would in theory be in May and September of this year, and May and September 2015, what fighters are currently potential opponents?

We know we have Maidana on May 3. Three more fights will come, and it's not that easy to predict the future. Two years ago, would you have thought you'd see Mayweather vs Robert Guerrero? Six months ago, would you have expected Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana?

Here are some possibilities.

Amir Khan

Khan (28-3, 19 KO) was expected to be Floyd's opponent on May 3, but that was before he chose to avoid a fight with Devon Alexander for December 7, 2013, and before Marcos Maidana upset Adrien Broner on December 14, creating quite a bit of positive press for himself. In the end, Mayweather held online polls, weighed the pros and cons, read all the lukewarm interest in Khan as an opponent, and saw, I believe, that Maidana was the hotter name at the moment. So he took Maidana, and Khan was left in the cold, largely of his own doing. Like I've said previously, he gambled and lost. It's as simple as that. He took the chance that nobody else would fight their way ahead of him on the pecking order, but somebody did.

Now, Khan is looking to return against a legitimate welterweight opponent -- Luis Collazo's name has been mentioned, as well as Lamont Peterson (not a legitimate welterweight opponent, but hey), and Shawn Porter, and Adrien Broner, which isn't happening. If he can notch a good win at 147 and maybe Mayweather doesn't fight in September, instead opting to wait until November or December, we could see Mayweather-Khan by the end of this year. If Floyd is firm about fighting in September, we could see Mayweather-Khan in 2015.

That said, Khan is vulnerable every fight. His chin is just that bad. Plus, even apart from the chin, there wasn't much positive to take out of Khan's last fight, an April 2013 win over Julio Diaz that was far more competitive than expected.

Canelo Alvarez

Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KO) and Mayweather brought in more money than any fight has ever seen last September, and with Canelo's thorough smashing of Alfredo Angulo this past weekend, the 23-year-old Mexican superstar could find himself in line for a rematch. If there even appears to be 75% of the money that the first fight made possible for a rematch, there's no reason this can't happen.

Alvarez lost nothing by losing to Mayweather, and if Mayweather-Maidana underperforms and we're told to look up on Google how many buys the fight had when everyone gets a little testy about it, there could be plenty of reason to do Mayweather-Canelo II. It might not happen this year, though, as Alvarez is set to return in July. He wants to fight three times, but a fight in July and then a Mayweather bout two months later would seem unlikely. Of course, all of that could change.

Danny Garcia

Garcia (27-0, 16 KO) has a tune-up bout this weekend with Mauricio Herrera, and the (mostly) undisputed junior welterweight champ has just kept on winning, rising up the ladder as a possible Mayweather opponent. In terms of having earned it, he's done as much as anybody has, cleaning out a division and proclaiming himself ready to move up to 147.

Keith Thurman

Thurman (22-0, 20 KO) is a rising puncher at welterweight, and he appears headed for an April return on Showtime. He's an exciting, likable fighter with good power and an engaging personality. Someone with his KO ratio and youth could be easily promoted as an actual young lion looking to knock off the old lion and take over the welterweight pride. I hated that sentence, and I hope you did, too.

Paulie Malignaggi

This is a potential desperation option -- like, if people start losing, and Floyd really needs an opponent, Golden Boy does have Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KO) in-house, and he has a fan following and is a known fighter. A lot would have to go wrong for Mayweather-Malignaggi to become a possibility, but, well, a lot could go wrong. Things happen fast in boxing. Paulie would be a tough sell because he has no power and nobody's going to think that he can outbox Mayweather. Who would ever buy this fight? Like I said, desperation option only.

Shawn Porter

Porter (23-0-1, 14 KO) put himself into possible position as a future Mayweather foe when he lifted the IBF welterweight title from Devon Alexander in December 2013, a fight that was, as mentioned before, originally supposed to go to Amir Khan. Porter still has to make a bigger name for himself, probably, but he's no less a name right now than Robert Guerrero was. A possible Porter-Thurman clash in the fairly near future could set up a Mayweather opponent.

Adrien Broner

I've been saying this could easily happen for the last year or so. There's a lot of love between Mayweather and Broner, but Floyd isn't shy to criticize Broner openly to the press, or point out things he should be doing differently. The relationship would have to further sour, but that's entirely possible. Broner (27-1, 22 KO) will have to prove himself worthy. When you talk yourself into the picture the way he did, people naturally revel when you face a setback. There's no real shame in losing to Marcos Maidana, but Broner set himself up for the backlash that has come from that.

Manny Pacquiao

Well, we may as well throw it in. Here's how Mayweather-Pacquiao could happen:

  1. Pacquiao leaves Top Rank, or
  2. Pacquiao doesn't actually leave Top Rank, but Top Rank has no hand in promoting Mayweather-Pacquiao and make no money from the fight, and HBO is also not involved. The last part could be negotiable, I guess, but probably not.
If that happens, the fight could pretty easily be made. And it's not unthinkable. It's just highly unlikely.
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