In a sudden and unexpected turn of events, Floyd Mayweather Jr. took to Twitter last night to announce that negotiations for his long awaited fight on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas are almost complete and that IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander is the leading contender in what would be a welterweight unification bout. While this has sparked a highly negative reaction by many, it may simply be a promotional ploy to keep us all interested as it is not a fight that is expected to take place.
The extent to which the respective parties have gone to generate such hype and intrigue is somewhat telling. To summarize:
December 13, 2012: WBC light middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez posted on his official Facebook page that a May 4 fight with the pound-for-pound king was "close".
December 18, 2012: Alexander's title defense against Kell Brook was rescheduled from January 19 to February 23 due to an ankle injury sustained by the British challenger.
December 20, 2012: Reports emerged that a deal was close to done for WBC interim welterweight titleholder Robert Guerrero to challenge Mayweather for the 'full' version of the WBC strap.
January 8, 2013: Alvarez threatened to not appear on the May 4 card at all without a guarantee that he would face Mayweather in September. This only strengthened belief that Guerrero was closing in on the coveted May 4 slot.
January 23, 2013: Mayweather tweeted that he did not know who he would be fighting and that Guerrero was just a rumor. Shortly thereafter, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer confirmed to BoxingScene.com that a Mayweather opponent had been selected but no announcement would be made until contracts were signed.
Since Guerrero's name had been circulating for a month by this time, it was curious that Mayweather would wait so long to publicly state that it was just a rumor. This, coupled with the timing of Schaefer's direct contradiction to Mayweather's tweet about an opponent having not been selected, raised some eyebrows.
February 4, 2013: Alexander withdrew from the February 23 fight with Brook due to a biceps injury that is reportedly expected to keep him sidelined for up to six weeks.
February 6, 2013: Mayweather reveals Alexander as the May 4 front runner.
The negotiations for my fight are almost done. The front runner is IBF Champion Devon Alexander. ItÃ¢??d be a unification bout at welterweight.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) February 6, 2013
At what point did Alexander fall into the conversation to fight Mayweather? Negotiations would have had to been taking place while Alexander was contracted to fight Brook. Would Golden Boy embark down this path knowing full well that their fighter already had another bout scheduled with the mandatory IBF challenger, requiring them to contend with all of the related sticky procedural matters involved?
This kind of sloppy handling doesn't sound like something Golden Boy would do for a fight of this limited magnitude. Alexander-Brook is a much more compelling fight and draws the vast and highly knowledgeable British fan base. The IBF has since indicated that they will not approve a unification bout between Mayweather and their champion Alexander. One would think both Golden Boy and Mayweather would have expected such a response.
Are we to believe that the Alexander injury was just a ruse to get out of the Brook fight and free him up to face Mayweather? Anything is possible but it doesn't do anything to help the perception of a sport that has been fighting to restore some level of credibility. Mayweather-Alexander just doesn't seem worth further jeopardizing boxing's reputation.
The bigger question is why Alexander would even be considered as an opponent for Mayweather in the first place? His textbook boxer fighting style is not one that would drive the majority of fight fans to pay $59.95 for a pay-per-view event, even one that involves Mayweather. There were some groans from the boxing community when Miguel Cotto was announced as Mayweather's May 5 opponent last year and the Puerto Rican star far exceeds Alexander as a draw and challenge. Furthermore, many have likely not forgiven Alexander for the uninspired effort he put forth against Timothy Bradley the last time he was in a high profile unification title bout in January 2011 as a light welterweight.
Since the disappointing outing against Bradley, Alexander has done little to win over fans. His uneventful performance against Randall Bailey in October drew boos from the crowd at Barclays Center. Prior to an impressive shutout victory over a sluggish Marcos Maidana last February, Alexander was the recipient of a highly disputed hometown split decision victory over Argentine slugger Lucas Matthysse in June 2011.
If Alexander is seriously being considered, it could signal something is amiss in more ways than one.
Something else could be amiss if the promotion for a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight now involves this kind of hype.
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