The pound-for-pound king is nearly dead — or so he says — long live the king. If the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr, 38, keeps to his word and retires after Saturday’s world title fight against the unfancied Andre Berto, there is no shortage of talented fighters in the welterweight division lining up to inherit his crown.
And with Manny Pacquiao also in the twilight of his career at 36, the door is wide open for a new generation to take over the most exciting weight class in boxing today.
TIMOTHY BRADLEY (32-1-1, 12 KOS)
There is a feeling that Bradley, 32, never quite gets the recognition he deserves — and that includes from judges, who somehow figured it a draw last year against Diego Chaves, even though most observers had the American ahead. Part of the reticence is the lack of a knockout punch, hence just the 12 KOs. His last appearance, in June, was controversial, when he dominated Jessie Vargas for 12 rounds to earn a deserved unanimous decision, but he was caught in the final moments of the fight and had a blundering referee to thank for calling time early.
KELL BROOK (35-0, 24 KOS)
It has been a roller-coaster year for the powerful 29-year-old Briton. He inflicted the only loss so far in Shawn Porter’s career to earn a world title in the American’s backyard in August last year in a surprise, but deserved victory, but soon after suffered life-threatening injuries when he was stabbed in the leg during a holiday with a machete. He appears though to have recovered well, if his performances against Jo Jo Dan and Frankie Gavin are anything to go by. He has emerged as a real world-class act.
DANNY GARCIA (31-0, 18 KOS)
The unbeaten American announced his arrival in the big time in 2012 when he defeated Erik Morales twice and knocked out the more fancied Amir Khan. The 27-year-old Garcia may not have the punching power or be the most thrilling boxer on the planet, but the Philadelphia-born fighter is smart and he was impressive in his most recent bout, last month, albeit against the sadly fading Paul Malignaggi after making the move up to welterweight. Possesses a lethal jab.
AMIR KHAN (31-3, 19 KOS)
It may seem silly for a fighter aged 28, but the jury is still out on whether Khan has what it takes — specifically, whether he has the defensive nous and the chin — to make the transition from a very good fighter with some of the fastest hands in the business to an elite-class one. He was seemingly on a fast track to stardom, but then was knocked out in the first round to the little-fancied Breidis Prescott in 2008, his first defeat, and suffered further damaging losses in 2011 and 2012 to dent the Briton’s stellar reputation. Badly wanted a go at Mayweather.
SHAWN PORTER (26-1-1, 16 KOS)
Porter’s progress hit the rocks last year when the American lost his title to Brook. The 27-year-old was competent enough against the outclassed Erick Bone in March this year, getting the KO in round five, but was excellent in June when, as the underdog, he scored a unanimous decision over the unlikeable Adrien Broner despite being knocked down at the start of the 12th. It was the first time in his career that Porter had tasted the canvas. Porter was another hoping for a shot at Mayweather, but Mayweather dodged him.
KEITH THURMAN (26-0, 22 KOS)
There is a massive amount of buzz in boxing surrounding the American, 26, who has blitzed his way through the division so far. Thurman called out Mayweather after retaining his 147-pound belt in July in victory over Luis Collazo and it is a fight fans were yearning for — but one Mayweather was never going to take because of Thurman’s fast-growing reputation as the most dangerous fighter around. While Mayweather built his reputation on his defense, part of Thurman’s attraction is his all-out blood-and-thunder approach.
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