The fight of the century is finally here! Sure, it’s about five years too late but I am not complaining. And if you are reading this post, neither are you.
My feelings on this fight have not changed since Mayweather-Pacquiao was originally discussed.
Who I think is going to win the fight may not surprise you but how the fight will be won just may.
Below, I break down the fight based on 10 key criteria that will help predict the winner.
Floyd Mayweather has been down only once in his career but not by a punch (his glove touched the canvas after falling down due to pain in his hand after landing a punch against Carlos Hernandez nearly 14 years ago).
And he’s only been buzzed or hurt on a few occasions, most notably, against DeMarcus “Chop, Chop” Corley, “Super” Zab Judah and “Sugar” Shane Mosley [it’s worth noting that two of the three boxers who stunned him were southpaws, like Pacquiao].
Being the more aggressive fighter, Pacquiao has been dropped or hurt a bit more. He’s been stopped on three occasions and knocked down on three other occasions.
The first KO loss was technically not a knockout, as he was “stopped” after an accidental clash of heads against an unknown Filipino boxer way back in 1996.
Three years later, and a little more troubling, Pacquiao was TKO’d (via a body shot) for the flyweight title.
And most recently, we all saw what Juan Manuel Marquez did to him.
Slight Advantage Mayweather
Mayweather has often been criticized for picking soft spots at different points of his career. Henry Bruseles and Sharmba Mitchell come to mind, but way back in 2005. Since then, he’s generally faced top contenders or current beltholders.
His best wins (in terms of how close each opponent was to his prime) came against Angel Mafredy (TKO 2), Diego Corrales (TKO 10), Jose Luis Castillo (UD 12, UD 12), Ricky Hatton (TKO 10), and Saul Alvarez (MD 12). His other “big name” victims include: Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosely, Miguel Cotto, Zab Judah, and Arturo Gatti.
Although Pacquiao has sometimes been criticized for primarily fighting Top Rank fighters, one would be foolish to suggest that he’s ducked anyone. Like Mayweather, his resume is hella-impressive.
His greatest, “at or near-their-prime” victories came against Lehlo Ledwaba (TKO 6), Marco Antonio Barrera (TKO 11), Juan Manuel Marquez (SD 12), and Timothy Bradley Jr. (UD 12). His big name ledger is also littered with common Mayweather opponents (De La Hoya, Mosley, Cotto and Hatton) as well as other former champions like Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito and Joshua Clottey.
If anyone has watched HBO’s 24/7 boxing series, then you are well aware of Mayweather’s nocturnal training habits. Many people may question his outside-the-ring exploits and “Money” persona, but no one can deny his dedication to staying in great physical condition. Given the fact that he relies more on speed and skill, conditioning is super important, since his fights often go the distance.
Although there have been some rumors about Pacquiao starting his intensified training late, I wouldn’t pay them much mind. Pac Man is kind of like the Tasmanian Devil–he’s an endless bundle of energy. Punches are thrown from all angles, he’s constantly darting in and out and side to side, and he rarely gets gassed in a fight.
Freddie Roach proclaims that Mayweather’s legs are shot. Although I really respect his opinion, I respectfully disagree with him here. Sure, Mayweather is a bit older and tends to stay in the pocket more–partially due to age, partially due to strategy. But as he showed against Canelo Alvarez, he could still move laterally, forward and backwards when needed.
Pacquiao primarily uses his legs to find offensive openings, not to avoid punches as Mayweather often does. And don’t let his aggressive fighting style fool you, he has very adept footwork. It’s just not the typical, defensively-oriented footwork that we are used to seeing from most boxers.
This will arguably be the most important factor in the fight.
Mayweather has never faced a boxer as fast as Pacquiao.
And Pacquiao has never faced a boxer as fast as Mayweather.
On May 2, something will have to give.
As has often been the case in his biggest fights the past 10 years, Mayweather will be fighting within the friendly confines of the MGM Grand Arena in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.
However, those confines do not promise to be so friendly on May 2.
It’s safe to assume that Pacquiao will have a legion of Filipino fans as well as others who will be either rooting against the polarizing Mayweather or simply rooting for the underdog (Pacquiao) to win.
Slight Advantage Pacquiao
I do not think there is much debate here. Although Manny Pacquiao hasn’t recorded a knockout in over five years and he and Mayweather have similar KO percentages (Pacquiao at 59% and Mayweather at 55%), the power factor is the one clear advantage that Pacquiao has in this fight. This fit pits the classic boxer Mayweather versus the quintessential puncher Pacquiao.
For a man once referred to by one of my buddies as the “king of the 12-round decision,” Mayweather clearly has had a lot of rounds to hone his ring generalship skills. Because of his unusually long-reach for his height, excellent counter-punching ability and old school “shoulder roll” defense, Mayweather is adept at fighting going forward, backward or in the center of the ring.
Pacquiao is an underrated ring general but he typically only knows how to fight one way (offensive) and at one speed (fast). It’s not that he can’t adjust, it’s just that he’s never really had to, as his style has typically rendered most of his opponents helpless.
The rub is what happens if he’s forced to do something different against the taller and longer Mayweather?
This fight will be more about physical size rather than physical strength. Neither man wins based on physical strength but more on speed, timing and impeccable stamina.
There is no catchweight in this fight; something that may have granted Pacquiao an advantage when he fought Cotto. Nor will he be facing a weight-drained Oscar De La Hoya.
On the other hand, Mayweather will not have a similar weight advantage like he had when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez nor will he be fighting at a catch weight like when he fought Saul Alvarez. But I believe he will take advantage of his height and reach edges, as he did when he faced Marquez.
Slight Advantage Mayweather
AND THE WINNER IS…
Given his slight advantages in the chin and size departments as well as his advantages in defense and ring generalship, look for Floyd “Money” Mayweather to retain his “0” on May 2.
The only surprise will be how he retains it.
I am going to go out on a limb and predict a late Mayweather TKO, but as my fight breakdown suggests, it will not come easy.