In a stunning turn of events, Floyd Mayweather Jr was last week linked to a boxing return despite announcing his retirement in the wake of defeating Conor McGregor over the summer.
Mayweather posted two videos of himself training in his Las Vegas gym, prompting a series of speculation articles of a possible comeback and 51st bout in 2018.
So, who would the 40 year-old legend and former pound for pound king face should he decide to lace up the gloves again?
WBN runs the rule over what would be a sparse list of potential foes for a fight Mayweather would surely demand another nine-figure check for participating in.
Top choice would definitely be the winner of Gennady Golovkin v Canelo Alvarez II.
The middleweight duo are likely to collide for a second time on May 5 of next year, and despite Mayweather already defeating Canelo previously, the Mexican has improved immensely in the time since then.
‘GGG’ on the other hand would be the standout candidate.
Mayweather moving up to 160 seems the only scenario where defeat would be anywhere near possible for the freakishly talented ‘Money’ man, and going up against the hard-hitting Kazakh’s power would sell the fight as a rival to the Pacquiao or McGregor fights.
Golovkin doesn’t have the profile of either, but would one hundred percent give Mayweather the opportunity to bank another check in the hundreds of millions.
At Mayweather’s chosen and dominated division of welterweight, Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr would be the two pronounced candidates, although it’s debatable either would elevate a clash above one and a half to two million buys.
Mayweather only wants those super-fights that have the pull to hit the three, four and five millions of this world and Thurman or Spence don’t have the PPV profile to do the job just yet.
Similar can be said at 154, a weight class currently crying out for a leading man, but on recent viewing needs an injection of star quality to take it to the next level.
Terence Crawford moving up in weight may have the ‘master versus future world number one’ element to it, but once again may struggle to reach over the magic two million purchases.
A rematch with a well-beaten McGregor is a lost cause in the boxing ring, meaning Mayweather would have to alter the rules slightly or better still move over to MMA in order to reach anywhere near the 4.4m buys for their T-Mobile Arena rollover last August.
Facing Pacquiao in a second bout was terminated by Australian Jeff Horn, or rather the Brisbane judges earlier this year, leaving the Filipino out in the cold with retirement on the horizon.
A big win over a Crawford or a Thurman could bring the fight back to life for Pacquiao, although on evidence of his Horn performance, the ‘Pacman’ doesn’t have too much left in his locker.
That leaves Mayweather with very few options for a return, and facing Golovkin or Canelo in eleven months’ time (September 15 – Mexican Independence Day weekend 2018) seems to be a one selection deal for the American superstar moving forward.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay