Five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather announced on December 12 that he will be making his return on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada against a yet-to-be-named opponent.
Nicknamed ‘Money’, Mayweather has been absent from the squared circle after being jailed from June to August having pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend back in 2010.
The WBC welterweight and WBA light-middleweight titleholder last fought against Miguel Cotto in May 2012.
Unbeaten in 43 fights since turning professional in 1996, many regard Mayweather as pound-for-pound the best pugilist in the world.
Although no opponent has been named for his comeback, there are several worthy challengers at 10.5 stone and at 11 stone who could test the American.
1. Robert Guerrero
While Mayweather was incarcerated Guerrero defeated the then unbeaten Selcuk Aydin in his first welterweight bout to capture the WBC interim title.
Since that win in July, ‘The Ghost’ dropped Andre Berto twice in the opening round en route to a unanimous points victory to defend his title in November.
A likeable persona, the 29-year-old Californian bullied the naturally larger Berto and would constantly be pressurising Mayweather throughout if they were to meet.
A former world titleholder at featherweight and super-featherweight, Guerrero seems surprisingly comfortable up at 10.5 stone and is as tough and durable as they come.
2. Saul Alvarez
Perhaps the most dangerous fighter on this list, Alvarez is one of the most talented young pugilists on the planet.
Still only 22-years-old, the red headed Mexican has compiled an impressive record of 41 wins (30 K.Os) and zero losses.
Nicknamed ‘Canelo’, the WBC light-middleweight titlist is still raw and relatively untested at the highest level but a contest against Mayweather could materialise.
Alvarez is also scheduled to box on May 4 and is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions - who are affiliated with Mayweather - so a match-up could happen.
3. Tim Bradley
Although he does not exactly have the most fan-friendly fighting style, Tim ‘Desert Storm’ Bradley is a world-class pugilist.
Yes, his WBO title victory over Manny Pacquiao in June was very dubious to say the least, but the former unified 10 stone champion is a handful for any welterweight.
However, the problem with the 29-year-old is that he has been involved in several lacklustre affairs and is a thinking fighter just like Mayweather.
The old boxing cliché is that styles make fights, but the only thing a Bradley-Mayweather bout would make is a cure for insomnia.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
The only boxer on this list to have fought Mayweather before, Marquez is coming off a career best win having brutally knocked out arch-rival Manny Pacquiao in the sixth round on December 8.
The 39-year-old Mexican’s stock has never been higher and a May bout against Mayweather would be the perfect time to cash in against the highest earner in boxing.
When they fought in 2009, Mayweather comprehensively outboxed Marquez, winning almost every round on the judges’ scorecards.
However, Mayweather came in several pounds over the 10.5 stone limit while Marquez was a newcomer to welterweight. But against Pacquiao, Marquez looked physically more imposing than ever before and could prove to a tougher challenge to ‘Money’ than he was in 2009.
5. Manny Pacquiao
From about 2008 to last week, there was no bigger fight that could be made in boxing than Manny Pacquiao against Mayweather.
But having recently suffered a devastating knockout loss against Juan Manuel Marquez, the appeal of a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout has been severely diminished.
But if it did take place in May, would it still attract the masses? Of course it would. And would it sell high pay-per-view numbers? Most definitely.
The only problem with this fight is the same thing that has stopped it from occurring for the last four years: negotiations.
Mayweather versus Pacquiao is still the biggest fight possible in boxing but, as for it actually happening, do not hold your breath.