On Saturday night, Barclays Center was the center of the universe for most everyone involved with business in boxing's glamorous welterweight division. There was a 12-round nontitle fight between Danny Garcia moving up for his first fight in the division against former two-time champion Paulie Malignaggi in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card televised by ESPN.
But there was even greater star power at ringside in the forms of WBA "regular" welterweight champion Keith Thurman and former IBF champion Shawn Porter, who said he was there on a mission to scout Garcia as a possible opponent at the end of the year.
Looming over the proceedings like some "Godfather" figure controlling everything, of course, was Floyd Mayweather Jr., who reportedly is close to announcing his next bout next week most likely against former champion Andre Berto. In a perfect world, Mayweather's next bout -- the last on his Showtime contract and he has said the last of his career -- would be against Thurman, who could pit his 26-0 record and power punching against Mayweather's 48-0 mark.
But that's not going to happen in September at least. "I'm not bummed about not getting the opportunity to fight Mayweather until he announces his retirement," Thurman said before Saturday night's card. "I don't think he will retire. His contract is up. Let's keep talking and try to make it happen. [Mayweather] said I'm not on their to-do list."
That obviously is a sore point for Thurman, who won his title from Robert Guerrero in March and then survived a devastating body punch from Luis Collazo three weeks ago before forcing him to retire at the start of the seventh round. Thurman noted that the WBA "anointed" Mayweather as its "Super World Welterweight" champion while Thurman retained the "regular" WBA welterweight title. "I had to Google it to find out what that meant," Thurman explained. "The 'Super' champion doesn't have to fight any mandatory challenger."
That is patently unfair in Thurman's view, but it is boxing reality. After receiving a purse expected to approach $200 million for his decision over Manny Pacquiao in May, Mayweather is in a position of absolute power. A fight against a diminished Berto should be a walkover and leave him with a 49-0 record that matches that of all-time great heavyweight Rocky Marciano. Fans have called for Mayweather to go for 50-0, but he has insisted beating that record doesn't matter to him.
"It's the 'Money show,'" Thurman said, using Mayweather's nickname. "He wants to make history on numbers [of dollars] and numbers alone. I wouldn't pay for his next fight."
Still, Thurman is holding out hope for "a nice phone call from Al Haymon," who advises Mayweather, is the power behind the PBC series and counts Thurman as a member of his burgeoning stable of boxing talent. If he can't have Mayweather in September, Thurman said, he could be satisfied with IBF champion Kell Brook, Amir Khan or Porter.
Thurman scoffed at a suggestion by Mayweather that he should fight up-and-coming Errol Spence, saying Spence is where he was three years ago. He said that comment was misdirection from Mayweather "to get the monkey off his back.
"[Floyd] should prove to the world that he will fight any undefeated fighter, not just Latino fighters, which have a sort of style he's accustomed to since the amateurs."
So, why won't Mayweather put Thurman on his to-do list? "Why does the king chop off people's heads?" Thurman countered. "Because he can. Everyone says, 'Yes sir, Floyd sir. They accommodate Floyd." That includes Haymon, who has been a financial guru to Mayweather but really can't make him do anything. "Al's not going to put nothing on Floyd," Thurman said. "Al works for all of his fighters. You have to understand how difficult a job that is. If I want to fight him but he don't want to fight me, Al's not going to make the fight. It's that simple."