Let me get this out of the way: The transitive property does not apply to boxing. I’m well aware that Juan Manuel Marquez was shutout by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in a one-sided drubbing September of 2009. Even more impressive was the fact that Floyd was coming off a long layoff. I also know the every one of the three times that same Juan Manuel Marquez has fought Manny Pacquiao, Manny was fighting for his life in hotly contested slugfests. This has no bearing on a (sigh) potential fight between the Manny and Floyd.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao would essentially have the same fight every single time they squared off against one another under sanctioned boxing rules. They are worthy adversaries for one another, and their styles are made to clash in an exciting fight. It’s just the way it is.
Against Floyd Mayweather, Manny simply has more ways to win give the sheer fact that he could conceivably stop Mayweather. I find it highly unlikely, but it’s a real possibility. I think anyone with knowledge of the situation would agree that Floyd can’t hurt Manny. Manny’s been in some slugfests, has no problem trading with good punchers, and hasn’t been badly hurt in quite some time. Neither has Floyd, but because he is so seldom hit cleanly, we don’t know much about his ability to take/respond to a good shot. I don’t know that Manny has the power to hurt Floyd, but I really don’t think he has to in order to win. Here’s why:
Outside of hand speed, Floyd’s greatest asset is his uncanny ability to remain so confident, calm, and comfortable during exchanges. It reflects his defensive brilliance, and it allows him to see every punch coming and avoid taking any serious punishment. This comfort level would work against him versus a lightning-quick combination puncher like Manny Pacquiao.
Floyd Mayweather’s aforementioned comfort level in exchanges has gotten him in the bad habit of consistently allowing himself to be backed into the ropes. Because he is such a good defensive counter-puncher, he’s rarely at a disadvantage up against the ropes (very counter-intuitive to everything a boxer learns growing up). Floyd is not only not out of his element here, but his defensive prowess allows him to actually dictate the pace of a fight while he’s against the ropes. I’m confident that Pacquaio--an uber-aggressive, offensive dynamo--would consistently back Floyd into the ropes. I think this will happen simply because Floyd really doesn’t mind it. His apathy will cost him dearly.
While Floyd may deflect or dodge four out of every five punches thrown, Manny can still hurt him with one. More importantly, the volume of punches Manny throws will add up in the judges’ eyes. Speaking of the judges’ eyes, it’s clear that any punches that land cleanly on Floyd are scored with more significance than those Floyd lands. It’s a sad truth for a fighter as defensively stout as Floyd. Since he so rarely gets hit, one clean Pacquiao shot per flurry will register in the crowd/minds of the judges as something more significant.
On top of being the harder puncher by estimation, Manny can (and I believe would) steal a minimum of two rounds by firing flurries for the last 20-30 seconds of each round. Even if most of the punches don’t land, his punch output (simply throwing more than Floyd) closing rounds will win him all of the even rounds (i.e. Sugar Ray Leonard strategically did this against Marvin Hagler).
I also think Manny’s aggressive, offensive-oriented style alone will win him at least two of the first three rounds since Floyd is a notoriously slow starter compared to Pacquaio. After stealing 2-3 more rounds with flurries to finish close rounds (again, it might not even matter if anything significant is landed), all Manny will have to do is win another round or two and stay off the canvas to win a decision. Sounds simple, right?
I’m sure Floyd will consistently land hard, clean counter-punches while Manny is on his way in. The issue is that Floyd Mayweather has evolved into a one-and-done counter puncher. He sparingly throws combinations like he did as a younger fighter. Manny has a tremendous chin, and I think he’d be willing to take one of Floyd’s shots to get off 4-5 of his own.
While Floyd is more than capable of winning this fight, the issue is that he would need to employ strategies and tactics he has not shown in almost a decade. It’s been many years since Floyd has stood his ground in the center of the ring and forced an inside fight. I think he can win a fight against Manny in this fashion, but I don’t think he would do it. I think he’s so supremely confident in his ability to counter and fight off the ropes that his stubbornness would prevail.
As far as what the fight looks like, I think it looks somewhat similar to Floyd’s bizarre fight against Victor Ortiz. For the most part, Ortiz was able to get Floyd up against the ropes and get off punches. Granted he only landed with his head, but I think this showed an important lesson about Floyd’s current fighting style. In the center of the ring, Ortiz would be nothing more than a sparring session for Floyd Mayweather. He’d pick him apart. But Floyd’s complete lack of concern (ignorance?) for being against the ropes gave Ortiz openings. Again, Ortiz couldn’t capitalize on them, but he’s not a fighter of Manny’s caliber. In a similar situation, I’m confident Manny could not only get off combinations, but actually land punches. Simply put, Manny Pacquaio is pound-for-pound the most explosive, complete offensive fighter in the last 15 years of boxing. Floyd Mayweather is undoubtedly the best defensive fighter of my lifetime (25 years and counting), but I think it’s very hard for defense to win out on scorecards against an aggressive puncher like Manny.
I’m not even saying that Manny is better; I just think his style is going to make Floyd work for everything. Floyd hasn’t had to do that in several years since he’s hand-picked his opponents and had seldom faced a top-tier fighter in their respective prime. I don’t think he can hurt Manny, but the more I think on it, he’ll need to in order to win this fight.
Who Should Floyd Mayweather fight next: