Chance wasted for boxing superfight between Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 

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Saturday (10 p.m., NBC Sports Network): Tomasz Adamek vs. Steve Cunningham, 12, heavyweights.


Special to The Miami Herald

The fallout from Manny Pacquiao’s stunning sixth-round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez eight days ago still resonates throughout boxing.

Particularly telling in the aftermath is Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s immediate fight path now that the always dreamed but never finalized mega-bout between the sport’s top two pay-per-view attractions seems unlikely.

With Pacquiao’s promotional clout sliding after two consecutive defeats, a fight against Mayweather has lost its luster. Had they fought, the bout was targeted to shatter pay-per-view records and attract immense crossover appeal considering that Pacquiao and Mayweather traded spots as boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter the past four years.

Whether you believe Mayweather’s or Pacquiao’s versions of the negotiations, the fight never materialized. Still eager to fight, despite frequent periods of inactivity, Mayweather will have some intriguing options for 2013.

Will he consider fighting at junior-middleweight from his comfortable surroundings at welterweight for a potentially-appealing match with 154-pound champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez? Mayweather has fought twice above 147 pounds — a close split decision win over Oscar De La Hoya and another distance-lasting victory against Miguel Cotto in May.

The fight against De La Hoya was Mayweather’s closest to a loss in his spotless 43-fight record. And, although his performance against Cotto was more convincing, Mayweather frequently stayed on the ropes instead of using the exceptional boxing skills that have defined his career.

If Mayweather prefers to stay at 147 pounds, an emerging rival could be Robert Guerrero. A former lightweight and junior-lightweight champion, Guerrero (31-1, 18 KOs) solidified a successful transition to the welterweights with his hard-fought victory against former 147-pound champion and Miami native Andre Berto last month.

Expecting an immediate rematch with Pacquiao after his controversial decision over the Philippines native in June, Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) instead remains on standby for another pay-per-view opportunity. A bout against Mayweather would feature two unbeaten champions. But such a match could prove a tough sell, considering both fighters are defensive-minded, counter-punching tacticians.

Thanks to his 10th-round TKO victory over Carlos Molina on Saturday night, two-division world champ Amir Khan might find himself as another alternative for Mayweather.

Although Khan has fought at 140-pounds the past three years and has lost two of his previous three fights, Saturday’s win helps him remain relevant in marquee bouts. The native of England and 2004 Olympic silver medalist also provides the international attention that played a role in countryman Ricky Hatton’s fight against Mayweather in 2007.

But Khan likely will stay in the junior-welterweight class and seek rematches with Lamont Peterson or Danny Garcia, both of whom pinned Khan’s consecutive losses before his win against Molina.

Mayweather will explore all possibilities between 140 and 154 pounds as he targets his next fight date. Headliner status enables Mayweather to hype and sell a fight against virtually any opponent — Victor Ortiz being the notable example.

Still, the inability to produce a fight with Pacquiao, when the timing was ideal, will remain one of boxing’s frustrating episodes. The best didn’t fight the best at the appropriate time.

Weekend results

Miami’s Glen Johnson lost a lopsided decision to George Groves (16-0) on Saturday in Groves’ native England. All three judges scored the super-middleweight bout for Groves, 120-107 (twice) and 119-109. Johnson, 43, has lost four consecutive fights and is now 51-18-2. …

Philippines native Nonito Donaire retained his World Boxing Organization junior-featherweight title with a third-round KO of Jorge Arce on Saturday in Houston.

Miami resident Guillermo Rigondeaux was scheduled to defend his 122-pound title on the same card as Donaire and Arce, but the fight was cancelled after Rigondeaux’s opponent, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, failed a pre-fight blood test Thursday.

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