Wrestling & MMA

Skeptics fear boxing will lack star power after careers of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao

Skeptics predicted the end of pay-per-view attractions when Oscar De La Hoya was closing his successful career five years ago.

But even if with his skills descending, De La Hoya helped usher the transition to the next generation of marquee fighters. De La Hoya’s fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao provided both fighters the perfect platform for additional followers.

Mayweather and Pacquiao not only enhanced their profiles with victories over De La Hoya but they have become the sport’s reigning pay-per-view kingpins. And, although he lost bouts against the multi-division champions, Miguel Cotto also carved a piece of the premium fight landscape.

Now the skeptics are resurfacing with the same gloomy scenario predicted in the twilight of De La Hoya’s career. With Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s window of pay-per-view dominance likely closing in the next two years, the doubters anticipate that the next era will lack a must-see performer.

And, as in the end of the De La Hoya era, possible successors to the lofty and envied spots currently enjoyed by Mayweather and Pacquiao make for interesting debate.

An abbreviated list of candidates to consider as the next pay-per-view stars could debunk the doubters’ theory.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: the logical heir to the pay-per-view throne. Alvarez, 24, has a rabid fan base in his native Mexico that is reaching similar hysteria in the United States. Alvarez already crossed into marquee-fight territory with his pay-per-view match against Mayweather that generated more than two million purchases last year. Mayweather’s two subsequent bouts after his victory against Alvarez reportedly failed to match the purchases of the bout with Alvarez.

Gennady Golovkin: currently considered the sport’s most devastating puncher. The Kazakhstan native and reigning middleweight champion could emerge into the top-tier fight stage but Golovkin would need the logical “dance partner” — Alvarez or Cotto — for such an opportunity.

Marcos Maidana: two consecutive fights against Mayweather have provided Maidana additional exposure. In the first bout, Maidana’s relentless aggression placed Mayweather in unfamiliar perilous situations. A match between Maidana and fellow Argentine Luccas Matthysse could prove appealing for a pay-per-view event but not as the headliner.

Leo Santa Cruz: the reigning 122-pound champion has benefited from his two recent title defenses occurring on the undercard of pay-per-view telecasts headlined by Alvarez and Mayweather, respectively. Talk has intensified of a possible unification fight against Miami resident Guillermo Rigondeaux or Santa Cruz moving to featherweight and challenging fellow Mexico native and Southern California resident Abner Mares, a former 122-pound champion.

Chris Algieri: the wild card in the group is the college-educated Algieri, whose narrow win against dangerous puncher Ruslan Provodnikov in June earned him a junior-welterweight belt. Not only did Algieri win a world title, but he also cashed in by becoming Pacquiao’s next opponent in their pay-per-view fight Nov.22.

▪ Miami resident Richar Abril retained his World Boxing Association lightweight title with a majority decision against Finland’s Edlis Tatli on Saturday in Helsinki, Finland.

Two judges scored the fight for Abril, 117-111 and 116-112, and the third had it 114-114. A native of Cuba, Abril is now 19-3-1.