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Can Manny prick Floyd’s bubble?

Robert Guerrero’s limitations made Floyd Mayweather Jr. look like a master craftsman in the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday. Guerrero had no antidote for Mayweather’s speed, defense and lateral movement. You can’t hit what you don’t see and Mayweather just wasn’t in Guerrero’s sights for most of their 12-round battle.

Unfortunately, Mayweather’s reluctance to engage made for a boring fight. Guerrero tried to turn it into a brawl where he could muscle his way through Mayweather’s defense and bang away from close range. The Ghost needed a standing target but Mayweather wouldn’t oblige. If there was a Ghost in the ring that night, it wasn’t Guerrero. Mayweather was an elusive butterly from the onset, slip-sliding away, backtracking, dodging bullets and staying on perpetual motion mode.

There are five fights left in Mayweather’s calendar with Showtime. The next will likely be against unbeaten Saul (Canelo) Alvarez who’s only 22. Alvarez is the WBC/WBA unified lightmiddleweight champion and fights in the 154-pound division. Mayweather defended his 147-crown against Guerrero. If they duel, you wonder what weight limit they’ll agree to?

When Mayweather faced Miguel Cotto for the WBA lightmiddleweight crown last year, Floyd scaled 151 and the Puerto Rican 154. The extra poundage made Mayweather slower than usual and although he won handily, took a lot of punishment. Mayweather scaled 146 for Guerrero and his speed was dizzying. To make the fight happen, Mayweather and Alvarez could agree to a catchweight of 150 but is that realistic for the Mexican?

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Alvarez has a 42-0-1 record, with 30 KOs, compared to Mayweather’s 44-0, with 26 KOs. It’s remarkable that they’ve logged nearly as many fights as each other even if Mayweather turned pro in 1996 and Alvarez, 2005. It’s even more remarkable that Mayweather is 14 years older.

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Despite Alvarez’ youth and power, he won’t be able to stop Mayweather in his tracks. Mayweather will run circles around Canelo and turn his red hair to white. That’s if Mayweather displays the same speed that he did in exasperating Guerrero. It doesn’t really look like Mayweather is fading because of age so Alvarez shouldn’t think time is on his side.

A Mayweather-Alvarez fight could break pay-per-view records. The fight is tentatively set on Sept. 14 during Mexico’s Independence Day weekend. It won’t matter if the bout is held in Las Vegas or Texas or Mexico – the fans will come out to pay for tickets. But unless Mayweather gets careless, it should be smooth sailing for the Money Man.

If there’s anyone who can prick Mayweather’s bubble, it’s Manny Pacquiao. The question is whether or not Pacquiao still has the desire to train hard and work his way back to prominence in the ring, given his responsibilities as Congressman. The man who will deflate Mayweather’s ego must be smarter, quicker and stronger.

Mayweather’s defense is almost impregnable because he’s so fast. Before an opponent can unleash, Mayweather is out of range. Against Guerrero, he kept beating him to the punch with a right lead down the middle – a perfect weapon for a southpaw. Mayweather didn’t bother to throw a follow. As Guerrero recoiled to counter, Mayweather was gone. That was the pattern of the fight. Pacquiao, like Guerrero, is a southpaw who’s also vulnerable to the right – Juan Manuel Marquez proved it. But unlike Guerrero, Pacquiao has the ability to slip the right and throw a counter overhand right with Mayweather still in range. Guerrero had no Plan B while Pacquiao will surely show up with a Plan B, C, D and E.

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Writer Scott Christ said Mayweather will always be criticized for not fighting Pacquiao. “We might be amazed how, in 20 years time, the Mayweather-Pacquiao saga is a mere footnote that new fans are barely aware even (never) happened.” Mayweather refused to face Pacquiao at his peak, fearing he would put his unblemished record too much at risk, but with his impressive showing against Guerrero, that shouldn’t be a concern particularly as the Filipino is coming off back-to-back losses.

No matter Pacquiao’s defeats to Timothy Bradley and Marquez, he remains a marketable foe for Mayweather. If Pacquiao hurdles his next assignment, either Brandon Rios or Mike Alvarado, in November, he’ll be an even worthier challenger for Mayweather.

If Pacquiao is looking for a final fight to cement his legacy as one of the world’s greatest warriors, it could only be against Mayweather. For sure, he’ll train hard for the Money Man. The bout would be more of a blockbuster than Mayweather-Alvarez. But at the moment, it remains a dream. Once the elections are over and Pacquiao disposes of his next opponent, then maybe, the dream could start taking shape into becoming a reality.

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