Real or not: Will Floyd Mayweather put on a show against Logan Paul? Can Spence beat Crawford?


Floyd Mayweather is back! Or something like that.

On Sunday, Mayweather announced that he’s returning to the ring for a “super exhibition” fight against YouTube sensation Logan Paul on Feb. 20. Is that surprising? Not really, considering the success of the recent exhibition match between former champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. And Mayweather is arguably a bigger star than those two.

And talking about stars, Errol Spence Jr. returned to the ring for the first time in over a year on Saturday and showed why he’s one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world with a dominant victory over Danny Garcia. But can he beat Terence Crawford … if they actually fight? While Garcia was a solid opponent, Crawford is on a different level and opened in some sportsbooks in Las Vegas as the favorite if a megafight were to happen.

And how about Anthony Joshua? Will we see him against Tyson Fury if he defeats Kubrat Pulev this Saturday? Should Billy Joe Saunders push for a fight against Canelo Alvarez after his successful super middleweight title defense this past weekend?

ESPN’s boxing experts share their thoughts on these topics and more.

Real or not: I’m excited to see Floyd Mayweather box again

Ben Baby: Not real. I can’t remember the last time I was excited to see Floyd Mayweather in the ring. The extreme counterpunching Mayweather used and the inability to ever hurt fighters as a welterweight never suited my palate. One of the reasons I never enjoyed Mayweather is that he was a fighter who never seemed to take big risks — of course, he rarely needed to because he often stumped opponents. Plenty of people enjoyed Mayweather fights. I was not one of them.

Mayweather’s greatest skills as a prizefighter were his nose for big-money fights and his marketability. It’s why his final professional fight — a gussied-up exhibition against former UFC champion Conor McGregor to put him at 50-0 as a pro — perfectly embodied Mayweather. It was a combination of a massive payday coupled with an opponent who never really had a shot of beating him.

This latest endeavor against YouTuber Logan Paul is an example of Mayweather’s business acumen. He’s probably going to make a lot of money to do little to no work. It’s hard to argue against that logic.

While it’s indeed a farce, this exhibition will likely be more entertaining than many of Mayweather’s fights toward the end of his career because, in Paul, he’ll have an opponent he can truly look great against for casual fans.

A funny thing about this fight, though. Why isn’t this one sanctioned, like Mayweather’s fight against McGregor? Paul actually has an official pro boxing match on his record — a split-decision loss to YouTuber KSI in a cruiserweight bout last year. McGregor was making his pro debut when he fought “Money” Mayweather in 2017. Even though McGregor was an actual fighter, it took just a couple of rounds to highlight the ridiculousness of that event. I imagine the same thing will happen in February when Mayweather steps into the ring to face Paul.

Here’s the rub of it all. Boxing fans may not be able to stomach Mayweather joining in the current trend of exhibitions masquerading as pugilism. It will not matter because we live in a world where some of boxing’s biggest attractions are YouTubers and retired fighters.

And where there’s a market, there’s a payday to be had.

Real or not: The Errol Spence Jr. who fought on Saturday beats Terence Crawford

Cameron Wolfe: Not real. Spence’s aggression, jab and activity were just too much for a counterpunching Danny Garcia, who is a step below in class. But Crawford offers so much more in challenges for Spence, including more power and an ability to match his speed and timing. This version of Spence loses to Crawford.

This was Spence’s first fight back after his car accident, and Garcia exposed some flaws in Spence’s defense that Crawford would jump on. Crawford isn’t flat-footed like Garcia and he won’t allow Spence to dominate the pace either. Spence-Crawford is the quintessential 50/50 fight, but Crawford’s intelligence in the ring and ability to adjust are why he deserves the slight edge right now. But as we’ve said time and time again, we can only hope these fighters can make this bout happen.

Real or not: Anthony Joshua will KO Kubrat Pulev, then face Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III winner next



Anthony Joshua explains why he’s more likely to fight Oleksandr Usyk than Tyson Fury in 2021.

Nick Parkinson: Not (sure). Expect to see Joshua knock out Pulev in a return to explosive form. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what 2021 looks like for AJ.

There is huge demand in the United Kingdom, and beyond, for Joshua to face English rival and fellow world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury for all four major titles after Pulev, but there are complications in that fight becoming a reality as Joshua’s first bout in 2021.

Wilder is insisting he is contractually due a third fight with Fury first, and if Wilder wins an arbitration hearing, Fury would have to either give up the WBC crown to make a fight with Joshua or fight Wilder first, which would push back a possible fight with Joshua to summer 2021 at the earliest. Joshua, assuming he gets past Pulev, also needs to resolve the demands of a WBO mandatory defense against Oleksandr Usyk, who wants his shot at AJ. And if Fury is not available until later in 2021, then AJ will fight Usyk first.

It all depends on Joshua first beating Pulev, then the outcome of the arbitration hearing, and finally what Fury decides to do if the hearing does not go his way.

Real or not: Shakur Stevenson will face Miguel Berchelt for the WBC junior lightweight title in his next fight

Wolfe: Not real. When I talked to Stevenson last week, he had his 2021 plan largely mapped out with his eyes on the winner of Jamel Herring vs. Carl Frampton being his next opponent, in the spring. Stevenson is the mandatory for whoever walks away from the Herring-Frampton bout with the WBO title, and he intends on holding the winner to it.

After that, Stevenson says, he wants the winner of Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez for the WBC belt in the summer. Then he wants to finish off his year facing IBF champion JoJo Diaz. What a 2021 that would be for Stevenson if plans come true. But this scenario would place the bout with Berchelt two fights away on his calendar.

Real or not: Billy Joe Saunders should push for a fight against Canelo Alvarez next

Parkinson: Real. Saunders fights hot or cold, and he has been inconsistent in recent years even though he has successfully stepped up in weight to become a two-division world champion.

Saunders may have been critical of himself after his display against Martin Murray, but he won by wide scores (120-109, 120-109 and 118-110). He looked sharp and fit and threw a variety of shots and combinations. It was the perfect warm-up for an Alvarez bout, shaking off some ring rust and building momentum toward the big one.

Afterward, Saunders urged promoter Eddie Hearn to match him in a big fight next. None come any bigger than Alvarez, and it nearly happened this year.

“When he’s on form like this, it’s important we don’t waste the opportunity,” Hearn said. “I know Canelo wants to fight him, so does Callum Smith. The Canelo fight [versus Saunders] only fell through because of the pandemic.”

If Canelo beats Smith on Dec. 19, Saunders will be seen as a good option for Canelo in the first half of 2021, while crowds are still restricted due to efforts to slow the pandemic. At 31, it’s now or never for Saunders.

Real or not: Edgar Berlanga’s first-round KO streak will continue on Saturday

Baby: Real. There’s no reason to think Berlanga’s first-round knockout streak will stop against Ulises Sierra. Sierra has a good record, but upon further inspection, it appears to be a lot of window dressing, which gives him many things in common with Berlanga’s previous opponents.

At some point, Berlanga and Top Rank have to decide if the marketability of the first-round knockout streak is worth sacrificing the rounds of ring experience Berlanga needs if he wants to become a champion.

Don’t get me wrong. Berlanga is fun, and knockouts are one of boxing’s greatest appeals. But when someone such as Berlanga gets to a certain level, it stops becoming entertaining and morphs into something slightly annoying. If Berlanga keeps the streak rolling, the next fight should be the one that pushes him into the second round. Which will be a good thing.

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