Now that the Pacquiao-Mayweather match-up seems to have gone up in a ball of fire (at least for the time being), Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will have to find new opponents for their next fight. From the way things are looking, Team Pacquiao will likely pursue a fight with either junior welterweight contender Paullie Malignaggi, or newly crowned WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman. Since Malignaggi recently defeated former lightweight king Juan Diaz, a Pacquiao-Malignaggi fight would be a fairly decent match-up. But in my opinion, the idea of a Pacquiao-Foreman fight has very little appeal.
Based on his appearances on HBO, Paullie Malignaggi has earned a reputation as a good, but not great fighter. He can beat someone like Lovemore N’Dou, but he was defeated pretty convincingly by Miguel Cotto. And against Ricky Hatton, Malignaggi was completely outgunned and stopped inside the distance (his corner through in the towel and the timing of the stoppage was a bit controversial). But since that time, Malignaggi has gained some momentum with his two fights with Juan Diaz. The first fight was a decision loss that most people felt he won and the second fight was a unanimous decision victory. So considering he just beat a former champion in Diaz, it seems that Malignaggi may be maturing as a professional. And while just about everyone would consider Pacquiao to be a huge favorite if they were to meet, Malignaggi is a legitimate top ten contender and it’s not an unreasonable match-up.
Manny Pacquiao-Yuri Foreman is on the table basically because Foreman is a world champion. And if Pacquiao took this fight and came out victorious (which he probably would), this would be his eighth world title in an eighth weight class. The possibility of Pacquiao becoming an eight-time champion would undoubtedly be the selling point of the fight. But in my opinion, the idea of Pacquiao winning a world title in an eighth weight class doesn’t make this a worthwhile match-up.
Without question, Team Pacquiao views Yuri Foreman as the perfect opponent. He’s undefeated and he just won a somewhat big fight against Daniel Santos on the undercard of Pacquiao-Cotto, so he’s a recognizable name to Pacquiao’s fans. But since Pacquiao’s last fight was fought at a catchweight of 145, it seems a bit odd that Team Pacquiao is all of a sudden ready to make the jump to 154 pounds.
Yuri Foreman is a good fighter, but he’s not a dangerous puncher by any means and he’s nowhere near the skill level of Pacquiao. I seriously doubt that Team Pacquiao would put their fighter in with Kermit Cintron, Alfredo Angulo, or any junior middleweight who possesses one-punch knockout power. People often criticize Floyd Maywether, Jr. for cherry picking his opponents. But if Team Pacquiao ends up taking this fight with Yuri Foreman, it would be one of the worst cases of cherry picking I’ve seen in recent years.
I have all the respect in the world for Manny Pacquiao and he certainly deserves to be referred to as the pound-for-pound king. But since he is no longer fighting Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as it was reported by Boxingtalk publisher Greg Leon, I would prefer to see him face Paullie Malignaggi, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, or any of the other top junior welterweights. And if Team Pacquiao wants their fighter to take a tune-up, he’s certainly entitled given his recent track record against top opposition. But I am not in favor of the networks pushing Pacquiao-Foreman as a historically significant event just because Pacquiao stands a good chance of winning a world title in yet another weight class. In my opinion, this fight would have little substance.
As for Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the only fight that makes sense for him at the moment is the winner of Shane Mosley-Andre Berto. Rumors have circulated in recent times that Mayweather has contemplated taking a fight with Matthew Hatton, the younger brother of Ricky Hatton. Matthew Hatton has a record of 37-4-2 and the toughest opponent he’s faced thus far is Lovemore N’Dou, a fight that resulted in a draw. A fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Matthew Hatton isn’t even competitive enough to call cherry picking. This match-up makes Kelly Pavlik-Gary Lockett look like a mega fight. I have never been among those who accuse Mayweather of only facing soft opposition, but if he were to take the fight with Matthew Hatton, I would have no choice but to join the club.
It’s a shame that it looks as if Pacquiao-Mayweather won’t be happening in the near future. The buildup would have been very exciting, but all of the talk surrounding this proposed mega fight has grown stale. Pacquiao-Mayweather was and could still be the biggest fight around, but it’s neither the beginning nor the end of the boxing world. And if the two parties can’t reach a mutual agreement because of this ridiculous steroid issue, boxing fans still have other exciting match-ups to look forward to in 2010.