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Where does Floyd Mayweather Jr. go now?

Whatever spin they want to put out there, or whatever amount of damage control can be done from either side, it's now quite apparent that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are going different directions, at least for the time being. Pacquiao will be facing rugged welterweight elite Joshua Clottey on March 13 in Texas, headlining what Top Rank will try to make a bonanza of a show at Cowboys Stadium.

So what does Mayweather do?

Floyd agreed to a March date with Pacquiao reluctantly, or at least that wasn't his desired plan. Mayweather wanted to fight Pacquiao in May, but Pacquiao's political aspirations got in the way, as elections in the Philippines are held that month, and Manny is running for office. Now without Pacquiao, Mayweather could surely fight in May, and it looks pretty obvious he won't be fighting in March. Even with Pacquiao and Top Rank headed to Jerrywood and Mayweather having the MGM Grand open for the same date, neither Floyd nor Golden Boy are dumb enough to try and split the audience by going head-to-head with a Pacquiao fight. HBO would be forced into picking a side, too, and given that HBO has plenty of power, they can just plain say no and offer a different date.

It seems we can forget about March 13 as a Mayweather date. It's now Pacquiao-Clottey, and Floyd will either fight shortly thereafter, or he won't. There simply aren't many viable options out there for him.

Top Rank's fighters are out. Bob Arum isn't going to negotiate a deal with Mayweather to fight any of his guys, which notably takes Miguel Cotto out of the equation, not that the public would exactly be clamoring to see Mayweather-Cotto anymore.

As for their rivals, Golden Boy has one elite welterweight, and it's Shane Mosley. Mosley is fighting Andre Berto on January 30, and it's way too late to pull the plug on that one and shift gears for a Mayweather-Mosley fight. Plus, Mayweather would actually have to agree to fight Mosley, something many simply don't believe he has "the guts" to do.

What about the other guys?

Welterweight is an exciting division when you look at the top six guys only -- Mayweather, Pacquiao, Mosley, Cotto, Berto and Clottey. Past that, there are zero star players in the division. Do you think Mayweather is going to fight someone like Selcuk Aydin or Vyacheslav Senchenko?

There are two guys that Dan Rafael of brought up last night on Friday Night Fights who are legit contenders and all, but just not attractive fights: Luis Collazo and Kermit Cintron. Cintron has been campaigning at 154 pounds for the last year, so weight might be an issue.

Collazo is best known for losing to Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley and Andre Berto. He was highly competitive against Hatton and Berto and got hurt early against Mosley. He's a very talented fighter and a tricky opponent for most, but the style matchup against Floyd is terrible for him. When Andre Berto boxed at distance, Berto demolished Collazo. Mayweather is a lot better at finding and keeping distance than Berto. In short, I don't need to see Mayweather-Collazo to know that Mayweather can beat Collazo.

Paulie Malignaggi has been brought up plenty, too. Paulie is a good fighter at 140 pounds, but has zero power, is essentially a jab-only guy, and just isn't on Mayweather's level. Same thing as Collazo. I like Paulie, think he's a very good boxer, and know he can't beat Floyd Mayweather. I have no desire to see that fight.

Unbeaten 140-pound titlist Timothy Bradley has expressed desire to fight Mayweather (or Pacquiao) while all of this has unfolded. Bradley's star has risen steadily in the last year, and I think he's made a fan out of everyone who has seen him fight. He's a hungry, aggressive fighter who can box and brawl, and he has what looks like a tremendous future in front of him. Of all the guys out there, this might be the best fight Mayweather could take if he wants to get back in the ring by May.

For those looking for a Paul Williams fight, don't count on it. Mayweather is not going to get into the ring with a guy listed as 6'1" that might be even taller than that, with an 82-inch reach. I also truly doubt Williams can make 147 pounds anymore (the last time he got down there was June 2008), and Floyd isn't going over the welterweight limit. He also shouldn't be expected to do so. Mayweather-Williams just isn't feasible.

There has also been the floated idea that Mayweather would like to fight in the UK, where he's quite popular. Rumors of a fight with Matthew Hatton were among the most ridiculous you'll ever hear, and if that happens, everyone involved should be ashamed.

What exacerbates this situation is the fact that with Mayweather out there needing a fight, a lot of these guys (Malignaggi and Bradley perhaps especially) are going to be unable to commit to anything themselves, in the hopes that they do land that mega payday to face Floyd, which would easily trump anything else they can possibly set up.

If I were advising Floyd Mayweather, and I had the best interests of his career to think about, I'd tell him to do one simple thing: Wait for now. Wait to see who wins Mosley-Berto, then challenge the winner, maybe for a July fight. It's really the only truly credible fight for him with Manny Pacquiao out of the picture, and with the fact that Top Rank isn't going to have their guys fighting him. I'd have no real problem with Mayweather-Bradley, but Mayweather against the Mosley-Berto winner is also simply a much bigger fight.

He can't fight a weak opponent. He can't claim a "tune-up" fight. He needs a legitimate threat across the ring from him, someone that people know, and someone who can point to a recent big win as proof of said threat to Mayweather. And with all of that, the only thing that makes sense is waiting for the Mosley-Berto winner.

Then again, maybe he'll just "retire," same as he did after beating Carlos Baldomir, after beating Oscar de la Hoya, and after beating Ricky Hatton and preparing for the undesired Oscar rematch. Fourth time's a charm?

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