Five years have passed since Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor met in the ring, in what was one of the most lucrative boxing fights in history. And now, we are talking about a possible rematch. While it looks like a long shot at the moment, there was a time when we thought the same thing prior to their first meeting in the ring.
Another fight boxing fans thought was never going to happen was Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin 3. But both sides were able to come to an agreement to make it happen, and Alvarez kept his super middleweight belts with a decision victory. Can GGG still compete at a championship level? He still owns two belts at middleweight, a division in which he won’t have to face Alvarez again.
One can only dream, but what’s the better matchup between Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko, if the fights were made?
How about former heavyweight champ and KO artist Deontay Wilder? After two consecutive loses to Tyson Fury, Wilder could be in position to fight for a heavyweight world title — again. If he beats Robert Helenius on Oct. 15, can he get back in the conversation?
Jake Paul returns to face another former MMA champion, Anderson Silva. Can he do to Silva what he did to Tyron Woodley — twice — in what could be his biggest test yet?
Mike Coppinger, Ben Baby, Nick Parkinson, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim explore these topics and share their thoughts.
Will we ever see a Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor rematch? Do we want to?
I never thought the first one would happen, and it still feels ridiculous even in retrospect that Mayweather and McGregor faced off in boxing in 2017. So, I’ll never say never to a rematch happening one day down the line. As long as there are enough people who will buy it — and there are, courtesy of Mayweather and McGregor being giant stars — it could always be an option for them. Tens of millions would be made by both, surely. It could certainly happen again.
With that being said, I cannot imagine Mayweather vs. McGregor 2 occurring any time soon. McGregor is still working his way back from a bad left leg fracture sustained in a fight against Dustin Poirier in July 2021. He is expected back in the UFC at some point in early-to-mid 2023, though if I were a betting man I’d put the odds closer to a return next summer. McGregor is under contract with the UFC and has two fights remaining on his deal. At this juncture, I cannot imagine the UFC allowing McGregor to go back to boxing and face Mayweather like the promotion did in 2017 — despite what Mayweather has said over the past few days about ongoing negotiations.
The UFC would still have to give its approval to McGregor and probably be in on the promotion of the fight. There is even less upside for the UFC now compared to 2017, so it seems very unlikely Dana White & Co. would OK it. But as I said, McGregor has two fights left on his contract. It’s possible he eventually becomes a free agent, and if that happens then all bets are off. “The Notorious” would be able to do whatever he wants, whether it’s boxing, MMA elsewhere, pro wrestling or racing his Lamborghini yacht against other obscenely rich dudes in Europe. That could include an exhibition with Mayweather, who by the way at 45 years old isn’t getting any younger. We were all fooled five years ago when we said it could “never happen” and I won’t be fooled again. — Raimondi
Can Gennadiy Golovkin still be a top middleweight fighter?
At 40 years old, the sands in the hourglass of Golovkin’s career are quickly shifting.
He was listless against Alvarez for the first seven rounds, but a late rally showed GGG can still hang with the best.
At 160 pounds, where GGG still holds two titles, he won’t have to contend with Alvarez, who just a few months ago was recognized as the best fighter in the world.
After a failed attempt to wrest the undisputed 168-pound championship from Alvarez, Golovkin has a chance to prove he’s still the best 160-pounder. He can accomplish that task with wins over Jermall Charlo and Jaime Munguia, easily the two most appetizing options in a rather weak division.
A matchup between GGG and Charlo, in particular, is one of the best fights you can make in boxing. Against Canelo, Golovkin proved he still possesses a granite chin and plenty of power. — Coppinger
Better matchup: Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko?
It depends on what is the “better” matchup. A bout between Haney and Lomachenko is the biggest lightweight fight that can be made. Haney is at the top of the division, but many feel Lomachenko, the former champ, could win his belts back. That has all the trappings of an elite fight that will be fought at a very high level.
However, Garcia-“Tank” Davis is the much bigger fight and better one for the sport. Garcia and Davis are well-known to fans outside of boxing and have some of the highest crossover appeal in the sport. A potential matchup easily becomes a massive pay-per-view event. Davis should be a significant favorite against Garcia, who has not faced anyone of Davis’ caliber. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an entertaining fight. — Baby
Is Anderson Silva a bigger threat to Jake Paul than Tyron Woodley?
Although I work primarily with MMA, I love being part of an ESPN combat sports team that also covers boxing because I get to occasionally weigh in on a sport I’ve been following since I was a kid. So, let’s see now … this boxing question … well, it’s really just an assessment of a couple of retired MMA fighters and how they stack up in a boxing ring against a social media star. Oh, boy, this modern sports world we live in.
Anyway, yes, of course Paul faces a bigger threat when he steps in with Silva than he did in either of his 2021 bouts with Woodley. The former UFC welterweight champion did have success in MMA with a powerful overhand right, but a big reason that punch landed for Woodley is that opponents had to watch out for the smothering wrestling of the two-time Division I All-American. Paul didn’t have to concern himself with that in the boxing ring, obviously, so he was able to beat that right hand, and Woodley twice, the second time by knockout.
A night in the ring with Silva won’t be as easy. The former UFC middleweight champ was one of the greatest strikers in MMA history, and while kicks, knees and elbows were part of his offensive arsenal, Silva mostly got things done with his fists. Hand speed was what made him special, and while he surely has slowed down at age 47, Silva still represents a bigger threat than anyone Paul has faced in the ring. Flipping that around, Paul does not pose the biggest threat that Silva has faced in a boxing ring. Just last year, “The Spider” defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who while he’s a shadow of his legendary father is nonetheless a former WBC middleweight champion who has shared the ring with Canelo Alvarez and future Hall of Famer Sergio Martinez.
So there you go, boxing fans, now you know the score for the big bout on Oct. 29. No, I’m not referring to the great Lomachenko returning from the war in Ukraine to fight in New York that night, or Katie Taylor, the pound-for-pound No. 1 in women’s boxing, defending her four lightweight titles in London. No, I bet what many fans really can’t wait for is the latest clash between a former MMA fighter and a social media maven. Sweet science, indeed. — Wagenheim
Can Deontay Wilder fight and win a heavyweight title again?
Money talks in boxing, and that’s why Wilder, despite being stopped in his past two fights, is closing in on another title shot. However, winning back a title seems less likely for Wilder to achieve, with two clever boxers currently holding all four heavyweight world titles.
Assuming Wilder, 36, avoids a catastrophic defeat against Robert Helenius on Oct. 15 (and few are backing Helenius), a title shot seems likely for the Alabama native early in 2023.
Wilder, the former WBC champion, has lost his past two fights (to Tyson Fury), but if he beats Helenius at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he progresses to a shot at WBA-IBF-WBO heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Wilder’s career now looks potentially bright, a turnaround from earlier this year when there were doubts he would even fight again after Fury knocked him out a year ago.
But as proved by the surprising turn of events that has seen Anthony Joshua offered a world title shot by Fury, recent form does not get in the way if a fight makes business sense.
After suffering back-to-back points losses to Usyk, Joshua should have been contemplating the prospect of his first nontitle fight in seven years when he returns to the ring.
But the former unified champion has been one of boxing’s biggest earners in recent years and his capacity to draw a huge crowd in the United Kingdom, as well as generate pay-per-view buys, persuaded Fury’s team to make him an offer (even if that fight won’t happen now).
That has led Usyk to change course, too. The Ukrainian, who is recovering from injury for the rest of 2022, targeted Fury after beating Joshua on Aug. 20 but is upset at Fury for negotiating with Joshua and is now focusing on Wilder.
That’s great news for Wilder, as Usyk is his only chance of a title shot right while the belts are shared between Fury and Usyk. Wilder is optimistic of his chances that Usyk will give him a shot.
“For Usyk to be able to bless me with a title shot when I’ve blessed so many during my reign, it’s a great feeling,” Wilder said last week.
Wilder’s knockout power makes him popular with potential pay-per-view buyers, promoters and TV executives. But nothing is certain, or predictable, in heavyweight boxing right now. — Parkinson