Floyd Mayweather Jr., one of the biggest attractions in sport and boxing’s premier fighter, announced in the lead-up to his rematch with Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana that he will be retiring in September 2015.

In recent years, Floyd has fought in his hometown of Las Vegas, with the MGM Grand becoming a home away from home for the ten-time world champion at five weight classes, and completely took over the place. Mayweather’s fights have become events, and have netted him over $400m in purses, with $105m of them being in the last twelve months.

Check out the stats of Mayweather’s box office reign at Dan Rafael’s ESPN blog and you’ll understand why the likes of Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao are desperate to fight the head of The Money Team. The glory of being the first man to beat Mayweather – who is unbeaten in 47 bouts with 26 KO’s – is one thing. Being set for life after the bout is another. Fighting Mayweather is like finding the Golden Ticket for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, except that Mayweather’s chocolate factory is the MGM Grand, and the tour is usually a 12-round schooling inside a boxing ring.

If Floyd is going to stay true to his word – and he is known to change his mind and contradict himself on a regular basis – September 2015 will be the last time we see Floyd in the ring, and he will be 49-0 if he wins both bouts. Boxing fans will know that legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano walked away from the sport with the same record, and begs the question: Can Floyd walk away as joint-first? With an ego like his, the urge to have one more fight to round it up to 50 and make history one last time will surely be too much to ignore.

We can speculate on the 50th fight of Floyd’s career all we like, but what we know is that Mayweather will have two fights next year, most likely in May and September in Vegas. Let’s take a look at the potential dance partners, and the likelihood of them being in the opposite corner:

The Frontrunner: Amir Khan, 29-3, 19 KO’s (Former WBA and IBF Light-Welterweight Champion)

Britain’s Amir Khan has twice been the frontrunner for a Mayweather fight and missed out. In May of this year, Mayweather asked for the fans to vote for Khan or Maidana to be his next opponent via his website on social media. Khan won the fan vote, but Mayweather went ahead and fought Maidana – who had been defeated by Khan in a December 2010 title defence – anyway.

Maidana gave Floyd a tough 12-round bout in May, and got the call for a rematch last month after Khan ruled himself out of a September bout because of Ramadan. He is the leading candidate for the call in May, but there is a new issue of the horizon: The rise of an anti-Islamic backlash in the US because of the threat of ISIS and the publication of deplorable and tragic videos of American and British hostages being beheaded.

Whether you agree with it or not – and Khan has publicly condemned the actions of the terrorist group – sometimes it comes down to being able to sell a fight, and a person, to the paying public. It could be a case of wrong religion, wrong time for Khan, which would be a great shame for him and for fight fans who view politics and sport as different entities.

The One Everyone Wants (with the exception of Amir Khan): Manny Pacquiao, 56-3-2, 38 KO’s (Current WBO Welterweight Champion)

If you want to make a boxing purist boil with rage, say the following words to them: “Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather”. It won’t be pretty.

The Filipino legend has won world titles in eight weight classes and beaten the likes of Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales (twice), Marco Antonio Barrera (twice) and Juan Manuel Marquez (twice). Now 35, and with plans to retire in 2016 to venture full-time into Philippine politics, Pacquiao and Mayweather simply have to fight in May or September of 2015. The boxing public will never forgive them if they don’t share a ring before they disappear into the sunset.

Imagine if Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns hadn’t met in 1981, when they were #1 and #2 at welterweight, and instead fought everyone but each other, whilst making remarks, excuses, threats, accusations and god-knows what else about the other in almost every public avenue. Their standing in the sport would not be the same, and whilst Floyd and Pacman’s legacies are significant and great on their own, the glaring hole in both their CVs is a bout with each other.

The likelihood of the fight happening depends on the egos of the fighters, the issues with promoters and TV stations, and a potential banana skin by the name of Chris Algieri, the unbeaten WBO light-welterweight champion who Pacman fights in Macao on Saturday November 22. If Pacman wins, journalists, fighters, promoters and fight fans will be calling for Mayweather-Pacquiao once again, and the excuses are running out fast.

The Outside Bets: Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Kell Brook, Miguel Cotto.

There are four outside bets to consider for Floyd’s last two remaining fights, and they all have their merits and drawbacks…

First of all – and the least likely – is Sheffield’s Kell Brook, who recently defeated America’s much-hyped Shawn Porter to become IBF welterweight champion. Bearing in mind that there are only three world champs at the weight: Floyd, Pacman and Brook, then it makes sense on paper that Floyd would want to unify the belts. But that’s where boxing is unlike any other sport. It rarely makes sense, and Floyd is unlikely to face unbeaten Brook when he has only one credible world-class opponent on his resume. The fight wouldn’t generate much interest or money, and Floyd is all about the money. Sorry, Kell. The Mayweather bus is not stopping in your town.

The second least-likely option is the mega-punching Keith Thurman, who holds an interim world title belt at welterweight and has attracted a lot of attention in boxing circles for his KO’s and engaging personality. In two years, and after a couple of significant victories, Thurman is likely to be the man at 147lbs. If he was to KO someone like Maidana or Devon Alexander in his next fight, he might be able to push for a September Mayweather fight. But it’s highly unlikely.

Danny Garcia is the #1 fighter at light-welterweight, and he has run out of credible opposition in his weight class, after defeating premier fighters Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan in his time as WBC/WBA world champion. If he stepped up to welterweight, he would have to make a statement fast, either by beating someone like Maidana in spectacular fashion, or by arranging a televised meeting between his father and trainer Angel Garcia, and Floyd’s father and trainer, Floyd Sr. The two hot-headed and opinionated elder statesmen would sell the fight on their own, and create a storyline for the All-Access Showtime TV documentary that airs in the lead-up to all Floyd’s fights. As fun as this one sounds, the fight itself would likely be a one-sided affair, especially as Garcia is yet to fight at 147lbs.

Last but not least is Miguel Cotto, who is currently the world middleweight champion after destroying the #1 fighter at the weight, Argentina’s Sergio Martinez, in nine rounds back in June. Cotto gave Floyd a great fight in May 2012, bloodying his nose and applying pressure throughout, before ultimately falling on points. A rematch would sell because the two men are huge business, and the added incentive for Floyd would be the opportunity to become a champion at a sixth weight. However, Cotto is likely to have a blockbuster fight with a fellow Floyd victim – Mexico’s Saul Alvarez – next year, which nixes the Mayweather rematch and means that Floyd might have to swallow his pride and negotiate the Pacquiao fight instead.

Conclusion

The second Maidana fight grossed $14,899,150 from 14,859 tickets according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, putting it in fifth position on the list of all-time Nevada boxing gates. Floyd has four of those five results, and two Pacquiao fights would likely replace the only other non-Mayweather fight (the Lewis-Holyfield rematch) from that list. It’s time for Floyd and Pacman to put their issues and egos to one side and think about the fans.

Khan is likely to get the call for May, and if Floyd wins, and Pacquiao beats Algieri in November, there will be nowhere else for either man to go but to each other, for what is likely to be the biggest pay-per-view fight of all time. It will have happened too late, but at least we’ll know. There are too many ‘what ifs’ in boxing as it is to risk another.