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Who gets the big fights?

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This article may center on how those who win the Mayweather sweepstakes but it is a wider point in boxing I have never really understood but intuitively made peace with.

How do fights get made?

There seems to a myriad of reasons and frankly you have to put up with them and just get on with it for the most part.

The reason it was running around my head started a while back when Carl Frampton stopped Kiko Martinez. Frampton has since not managed to get a title shot yet Kiko did and duly took the chance to win it.

The talk lately has been that Kiko would fight Frampton again but this seems to have cooled with perhaps Leo Santa Cruz stepping into the mix. Then this took a side step towards a Cruz fight with Scott Quigg. A bit bizarre all round really but somehow it made sense as only boxing can when it comes to this nonsense.

Some fighters always land the chance to get big fights. In the past Zab Judah, Demarcus Corley and Ricardo Mayorga always seemed to get themselves involved in big fights whether they were relevant or not. Talent is not always enough and in some cases it is clearly a hindrance. I mean no-one wants to go near Guillermo Rigondeaux and frankly who can blame them.

No-one out there can really test him at his weight class, even the dominating Nonito Donaire was beaten with plenty of room to spare. Andre Ward is so far above fighters in his weight class that even one win in two years over an overmatched prospect can’t dull his star but big fights elude him.

Network problems and contractual issues seem like a much bigger hindrance. We don’t want to admit it but we are never going to see Manny Pacquiao face off with Floyd Mayweather. Some match ups will never happen purely because fighters belong to one stable over another.

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Golden Boy and Showtime will keep fighters apart until we start seeing a Game of Thrones or Wire style twist of numerous deaths and Oscar De La Hoya takes over and decides to let everyone fight everyone in a massive Royal Rumble of boxing. Though this may seem closer to happening that ever before let’s not hold our breath.

Excitement becomes a very interesting problem sometimes when making match ups. Have you ever seen Miguel Vasquez fight? The man is dull, very dull, but obviously a talented operator. Only Tim Bradley and Saul Alvarez have managed to best him in the ring but no-one is paying to see him or in a hurry to match him with anyone of relevance at the top of end of a weight class with some pretty interesting characters.

This seems to be the area that media is looking into when it comes to Amir Khan and the possibility of facing Mayweather. All of sudden he is tarred with the brush of being not as exciting as he once was. The fights against Lamont Peterson and Marcos Maidana look a long way away now he is a lot more measured after his three fights under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter.

Records play an interesting part. For a long time Floyd Mayweather would cite the fact that Manny had lost a few times as a reason to not fight him. It never stopped Floyd fighting Oscar De La Hoya, Robert Guerrero, Carlos Baldomir, etc, etc.

He has given first defeats to guys like Ricky Hatton, Diego Coralles and Canelo Alvarez but Marcos Maidana had already lost to Andre Kotelnik, Devon Alexander and Amir Khan before getting the chance so the signals are mixed. Then again Mayweather makes his own rules so you never really know what your record is going to mean in this situation.

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Awkwardness is another area where others have struggled. Some fighters are easy to work out and good at what they do and find themselves getting big fight after big fight; Zab Judah especially springs to mind. Others avoid fighters that for one reason or another are awkward.

Paul Williams faced this problem for a long time by being a lanky southpaw with massive work rate and a huge reach. Once he got past Antonio Margarito (awkward in his own right) and won his belt he faced off against avoided fighters like Sergio Martinez and Erislandy Lara and it is a reason he was so applauded as a fighter.

His chances of fighting Floyd if he were still around and operating at a world-class level would be virtually nil. Lara spent a lot of time in the shadows after his defeat to Williams as he was quickly found out as someone to be worried about. It has taken Lara a long time to land a super fight despite his obvious talent.

Celebrity is an odd one. Mexican fighters will always attract a crowd and followers and the British public always stand by their fighters and generally those fighting at world level get the backing.

This tends to put certain fighters in better positions that others. The strange thing with celebrity is that some fighters are just naturally more interesting than others. Take Victor Ortiz for instance. The guy has talent but is obviously bat shit insane. He is exciting to watch because you are unsure what you are going to get.

So far in his career he has quit against Marcos Maidana, hugged Floyd repeatedly until he got punched in the face, TWICE!, disqualified once and recently got knocked out by a guy that rarely knocks anyone out. Coupled with his exciting win over Andre Berto and an entertaining draw with Lamont Paterson you have a guy that seems to find his way towards big fights almost in spite of himself.

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All in all, if we look at who Floyd could potentially fight next then the main hurdle is network and contractual. Let’s say you get beyond this point and you get to the negotiating table. Well you have to basically make sure you are exciting and have a patchy record.

You probably need a big win to propel you to the fight, Guerrero, Canelo and Maidana all had this. As had numerous before them. Make sure you are not awkward. Since his return Floyd has fought different types of fighters. Robert Guerrero is an all-rounder, which is why Floyd smoked him with such ease, no-one does fundamentals better than Floyd.

Alvarez was a rising young superstar bringing youth and power that seemingly Floyd had never faced. It turned out that he wasn’t anywhere near the level of Mayweather. As for Maidana, we get a brawler and a slightly awkward one at that. Floyd had little problems beating both but are these three fighters the cream of the crop that he can face at the moment, probably not.

Trying to predict what Floyd will do next is tough but getting easier due to being able to eliminate those he has already faced. Then a spanner in the works occurs. Maidana might get a rematch and deservedly so, he certainly put up a good showing last time out. He put on the best test Floyd has faced since Oscar.

Then again, if history has taught us anything, match ups are hard to predict so maybe Floyd will be as elusive as ever and come out with another curveball. The winner of Porter v Brook? Amir Khan? Finally Manny? Miguel Cotto again? Maidana rematch?

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