Anyone who shelled out $100 to watch Floyd Mayweather cruise to an easy decision win over Manny Pacquiao probably isn't in the mood to think about yet another mega-fight in the making. Let's face it, the"Fight of the Century" was barely the Fight of the Weekend. But now that Mayweather has proved he's the best fighter of his era—albeit one whose defensive brilliance can produce some agonizingly boring match-ups—he's signaled that he will step out of the way for the next boxing superstar to come along, even dramatically vacating his belts ahead of what will supposedly be the final bout before he retires. In the wake of the Mayweather-Pacquiao letdown, here are five possible fights that are exactly what the sport needs to stay relevant.
Featherweight — Vasyl Lomanchenko vs. Nicholas Walters: On the Mayweather-Pacquiao undercard, Ukrainian sensation Vasyl Lomanchenko punched his way to a dominant win in front of the largest pay-per-view audience ever, providing some of the best fistic fireworks of the night. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was blindingly fast with his hands and landed some breathtakingly sweet combinations. Look for Lomachenko in a 126-pound title unification fight with Nicholas Walters later this year.
Super Middleweight — Gennady Golovkin vs. Andre Ward: Golovkin, the fearsome, undefeated punching machine from Kazakhstan, has dominated every opponent he has faced. But a match against Ward, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport, has been stalled in contractual hell for the past few years. Ward, who is expected to get back into the ring soon as a part of his new contract with Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, would either derail the Golovkin hype train or become his latest victim.
Heavyweight — Wladimir Klitschko vs. Deontay Wilder: It’s been called the “most important heavyweight bout since Lewis-Tyson” and has every reason to revive a long-moribund division. Klitschko is expected to next defend his heavyweight titles against Tyson Fury in September, but assuming he wins, the next logical fight would be against Wilder, the 6-foot-7 Alabama knockout artist who holds the WBC championship belt, the only one Klitschko doesn't possess. Wilder, who would become the first undisputed American heavyweight champion since Mike Tyson if he beat Klitschko, tweeted during the Ukrainian icon's recent victory over Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings, “#Igotnext.”
Light Heavyweight — Sergey Kovalev vs. Adonis Stevenson: By far the biggest fight at 175 pounds is a unification battle between three-belt holder Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev and WBC champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson. But due to some squabbling between the fighters' promoters over purse bids—the kind of only-in-boxing nonsense that regularly delays big fights—the throw-down hasn't been signed yet. C'mon guys, if Mayweather and Pacquiao can figure it out, you can too.
Welterweight — "TBE" vs. TBD: As much as the boxing world hates Floyd Mayweather, the boxing world really loves to hate Floyd Mayweather. So fight fans will probably tune in again for what could be Mayweather's last defensive clinic —whether it’s against Amir Kahn, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, or even a rematch with Pacquiao, who complained that he was denied a pre-fight request for an injection for a right shoulder injury that supposedly prevented him from throwing more punches. Love him or hate him, Mayweather is only one victory away from tying Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record and retiring undefeated (and ridiculously rich). He may not be "The Best Ever," as he often claims, but Mayweather is better than any other welterweight fighting today. Let's just hope that whoever replaces him as pound-for-pound king provides a little more excitement on fight night.
Photos by Asssociated Press