The speculation may not have quite reached fever-pitch yet, but here we fight fans are again dreaming of a match up betwixt Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. We’ve been teased so many times, it’s hard to invest too much on the recent swirl of rumors that suggest maybe, just maybe, 2015 will be the year.
Manny, the ever polite Filipino, seems to have found a way to get under Floyd’s skin without resorting to the sort of wild eye braggadocio that other fighters resort to. Manny has taken on the part of the happy warrior, cheerfully poking at Mayweather every chance he gets.
Foot Locker released the ad below of Manny mistakenly thinking an unnamed (har-har) fighter has finally agreed to meet him in the ring. The glee and excitement exhorted by Pacman is not only palpable, but pretty damn funny too.
Link for Foot Locker Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS8WJ6Lz1AU
As well, after dominating Chris Algieri for 12 rounds on November 22nd, Manny reverted back to his Foot Locker character (“He’s going to fight me!”) when Floyd was mentioned in the post-fight interview. In politics, they say the best way to insult your opponent is to say awful things about them, but to do it with a smile. Of late, Manny seems to have taken that to heart like it’s his only job.
Manny isn’t doing it on his own either. Freddie Roach works the bad cop just as well as Manny works the good cop. Asked about A Manny/Floyd fight prior to the Algieri scrap, Freddie derisively said, “who the hell knows what’s going on with him.” In September, Freddie went even further, saying, “At this point, I think Mayweather’s legs aren’t there anymore. He’s not as sharp as Manny is, if you compare his last fight (against Marcos Maidana) with Manny’s last fight. Three years ago, I thought it was a dead-even fight and real tough fight to pick. Now, I don’t think that. I think we can knock Mayweather out at this point.”
The word is Freddie has been encouraging Manny to bring up the Foot Locker ad as often as possible. Roach and Pac seem to believe they have stumbled onto a formula. Manny grins and pokes fun, Freddie snarls and suggests Floyd’s not what he once was. Before, Floyd would be dismissive and find contractual impediments to avoid the fight (excessive blood testing, uneven financial splits, etc.), and when Manny agreed to nearly everything, Floyd would change the terms again.
Just last week, while watching a college basketball game on ESPN, I saw a crawl come across the ticker at the bottom of my screen. Floyd’s team had reached out to Roach demanding a rematch clause be placed into the contract should Mayweather lose. Apparently, Freddie said yes. Two thoughts entered my mind when I read this. One: This is starting to sound serious. Two: Wait…Floyd thinks he could lose?
The mind games appear to be working. Just this September, Floyd posted an image on Instagram he titled “3 ways to sleep. Back, face, and butt” showing Pacquiao on the canvas after his knock out loss to Marquez. The verbal battle has been joined, and the pressure is starting to mount.
While one could argue with ease that Floyd doesn’t need the money that would come with fighting Pac, he has to know the amount will be enormous. And if there’s one thing the “Money Man” likes, it’s more money. While I certainly think Floyd believes he would beat Manny, he must have questions. I’ve always felt if Floyd were to fight Manny, he would attempt to wait until Manny’s more risky, combative style would begin to atrophy his skill level while Floyd would continue to fight quality—if well matched—opponents that would largely leave himself undiminished. After the loss to Bradley (well, if you call that a loss), the KO against Marquez, and a seemingly safer approach in the ring by Manny that has led to questions about Manny’s desire and ability to score knock outs—it’s been five years since he TKO’d Cotto in the 12th– it would seem Floyd’s played this perfectly. So what’s holding Floyd up?
The only thing Floyd may cherish more than dead presidents is a living legacy. That legacy is highlighted by that career zero in the loss column. Floyd has often played it safe in his career. He’s an expert at fighting a guy when he’s either just a bit too green or a bit too rusty. For all Floyd’s innumerable skills, caution is the one he should be best known for. And let’s be clear, Floyd isn’t quite the same Floyd he used to be either. Both De La Hoya and Cotto marked him up. For one brief moment Mosley nearly had Floyd face first on the canvas had Mayweather not leaned in and held on to Shane’s frame to keep himself upright. In their first fight, Maidana put tremendous pressure on “Money” and Floyd needed to squeak out a majority decision. Does anyone not think Manny is better than all those guys?
Manny and Floyd have had a number of common opponents. The results, while not conclusive, are instructive.
• De La Hoya—Floyd earned a split decision (should have been a UD), against Manny, Oscar quit on his stool after the 8th.
• Ricky Hatton—Floyd defeated the Brit by 10th round TKO, Manny flattened Hatton in the 2nd with a wicked one punch KO.
• Shane Mosley—both fighters beat Sugar Shane easily, but Pac scored a knock down and Floyd was hurt early in his bout.
• Miguel Cotto—Floyd won a spirited unanimous decision that left his face swollen, Manny earned a 12th round TKO after battering the hell out of Cotto for the length of the fight.
• Juan Manuel Marquez—Floyd won a dominant unanimous decision, Manny went 2-1-1 against Marquez and suffered his most devastating loss.
Of their five common opponents, it’s hard to argue that Floyd outshined Manny against any of them with the notable exception of Marquez. Now to be fair, this is somewhat of a dangerous exercise and probably a poor predictor of what would happen if and when Manny and Floyd do get in the ring. Styles make fights, as they say. What it does illustrate though, is in the abstract, they are well matched.
While I do think it is not only fair to consider Floyd a favorite in a proposed fight, I suspect it is more than likely. What is also fair to say is Floyd has never faced anyone like Manny before and here is why Manny could win and why no one should be shocked if he did.
Both fighters have extremely fast hands. However, Manny is more likely to let his go, resulting in higher volume. While Floyd’s foot work and shoulder rolls are likely to result in many a glancing blow, most judges prefer activity to defense. Manny’s footwork and angles are not comparable to any other fighter in the game today. Manny’s quick feet allow him to be offensive and defensive at the same time. He can throw punches from almost any position and be difficult to hit due to that unpredictability. For a great offensive fighter, he’s seldom exactly where you expect him to be. Finally, power and accuracy. Manny probably hits harder than anyone Floyd has ever fought. He also lands an unusually high percentage of blows during any given fight.
In short, Floyd’s just never seen anything like Manny before. A quick drawing, powerful volume puncher, who is both highly skilled and highly unorthodox. He will be challenged.
Of course, Floyd is a magician in the ring. Few can figure out an opponent better than Floyd and then adjust his game plan. When Floyd lets his hands go, he can be dangerous as well. He also has quick hands, great footwork and may be the best defensive fighter of this or any other generation.
However, I believe Manny will test Floyd in ways that Money has never experienced. Manny won’t be afraid. He won’t be slower. He will be busier. He will hit harder. That’s a recipe for success. If Floyd wants to fight and beat Manny, he’ll need more than the sink, he’ll need the whole kitchen.