It’s sad but true that boxers and those in the fight game really don’t when to call it a day.
What compels them to put their bodies and health on the line after their best days have gone? It can be money, of course, or the lure of unfinished business.
As far as Floyd Mayweather is concerned, it’s hard to know what gets him out of bed and into the gym. He’s got nothing to prove, having achieved that perfect 50-0 record, and doesn’t need the cash – as anybody who follows him on Instagram can attest.
However, the five-weight world champion made a huge announcement in November when he confirmed he will be coming out of retirement in 2020.
Intriguingly, he didn’t actually say in what discipline, ending the social media post with ‘boxing’, ‘UFC’ and ‘MMA’ tags. Most assumed he would be returning in his normal boxing field, but he has announced that he is planning on working with UFC impresario Dana White on as-yet-unscheduled project.
Could Mayweather be making his MMA debut?
‘Money’ has his last ‘proper’ fight in 2015, and since then he has defeated Conor McGregor in a standard boxing match and then took down Japanese kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition bout in December 2018.
He is outspoken on his reluctance to get back into the ring. “Boxing is a very, very brutal sport. In the last few years a lot of fighters have died inside that squared circle,” Mayweather has said.
“You have got to know when to hang it up. I had a great career.”
All of which suggests that a switch to MMA might be in the offing. It’s an ultra-violent sport, of course, but its fatality rate is far smaller than that of boxing.
That said, White has launched his own boxing promotion, and he wouldn’t be shy in sending Mayweather a few dollars to headline his debut bill.
So who could he take on his big comeback bout? Let’s take a look at five of the key contenders.
#1 – Manny Pacquiao
It was one of the great injustices for fight fans that they ever got to see Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio get it on when in their prime.
They did fight in 2015, a contest five years in the making as contract negotiations stalled, and it was a tremendously hyped affair between two men who, at one time, could lay claim to being the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.
Mayweather won that one on points, but there’s unfinished business between these two and with the Filipino still active as the WBA welterweight champion there would be gold on the line too.
The American offered Pacquiao a rematch but in an exhibition only. Manny refused, saying he wanted a proper fight or nothing at all, and maybe he has done just enough to tempt ‘Pretty Boy’ out of retirement.
#2 – Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
What a risky fight this would be for Mayweather.
After four or five years on ice, would he really want to come back against one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet?
Canelo demolished Sergey Kovalev in November to become a five-weight champion, and make no bones about it the Mexican would jump at the chance to take on Mayweather again.
They met back in 2013, with Alvarez giving Floyd one of the toughest nights of his career and winning on one of the judges’ cards.
Would Mayweather be keen? Not if he’s got any sense, he wouldn’t.
#3 – Conor McGregor
The Irishman has announced his return to the Octagon in 2020 after a year in the wilderness following defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Maybe that will be a warm-up out ahead of a possible UFC meeting against Mayweather, which would surely break all sorts of Box Office records.
It would be another brave move from Money, but plenty have proven that McGregor is far from invincible in the fight game – Mayweather himself in their one-sided boxing bout.
Have money, will travel that’s been Floyd’s mantra in recent times. Maybe there’s more to come if he takes on McGregor in Las Vegas or somewhere like Saudi Arabia.
#4 – Khabib Nurmagomedov
As daft as Mayweather would be to step inside the ring with Canelo, he would be downright crackers to entertain the notion of making his MMA debut against Nurmagomedov.
But there have been talks of a boxing match between the pair, with the Russian’s dad Abdulmanap claiming he would give the green light to the contest if Khabib entered a boxing training camp with Vasyl Lomachenko’s own father.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, claimed that Mayweather’s camp had been bugging him to get the fight on, claiming that Mayweather is ‘running out of money’.
#5 – Masaaki Noiri
As was the case in his contest with Tenshin Nasukawa, Mayweather seems happy enough to make some money while securing his legacy by taking on fighters below his level.
Masaaki Noiri is no mug, indeed he’s a major kickboxing champion in his native Japan.
A fight with Mayweather would be big business in Tokyo or even Nagoya, where Noiri is from, and Money would certainly be up for entertaining the idea.
After all, his win over Nasukawa was one of the easiest paydays of his career!