Mayweather and Pacquiao Against the Greats: Part Two

BY Thomas Hauser ON July 12, 2013


Part One of this article explored a "fantasy" tournament contested among eight great welterweights of the past seventy years. Twenty-eight experts predicted the outcome of fights between Roberto Duran, Emile Griffith, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Aaron Pryor, and Sugar Ray Robinson.

The final rankings were:

Sugar Ray Robinson 189.5 points

Sugar Ray Leonard 156.0

Thomas Hearns 112.5

Roberto Duran 93.5

Floyd Mayweather 79.0

Emile Griffith 60.5

Aaron Pryor 59.5

Manny Pacquiao 33.5

This installment of "Mayweather and Pacquiao Against the Greats" explores the underlying data and puts the tournament in context.

Shortly before his death, Emanuel Steward opined, "The elite fighters today are better athletes than fighters used to be, but they aren't as well-schooled in how to fight. To emphasize his point, Steward added, "Tommy Hearns would have destroyed Floyd Mayweather. Floyd would have given Tommy that shoulder roll, and Tommy would have broken his shoulder. And after he broke Floyd's shoulder, he would have hit him on the jaw and knocked him out."

Emanuel, of course, had a bias. He was Hearns's trainer. But 22 of 28 experts polled earlier this month said they thought that Hearns would have beaten Mayweather at 147 pounds.

The names of the panelists and rankings methodology were outlined previously in Part One

Chart #1 (link) and Chart #2 (link) contain underlying statistical data from the tournament and are posted here for the first time.

chart1 12072013

Chart #1 shows that, by and large, the matchmakers, trainers, media representatives, and historians who were polled saw things similarly. Sugar Ray Robinson was ranked first within each group and Sugar Ray Leonard second. The greatest discrepancy was for Aaron Pryor, who ranked third among trainers but sixth, seventh, and eighth among the other panelist groups.

chart2 12072013

Chart #2 shows how the panelists thought each fighter would fare against the other seven.

Sugar Ray Robinson was regarded as the cream of the crop. All 28 panelists said that Robinson would have beaten Duran, Griffith, Hearns, Pacquiao and Pryor. Twenty-seven of the 28 panelists thought that Robinson would have beaten Mayweather. Where Robinson-Leonard is concerned, nineteen panelists picked Robinson, two picked Leonard, and seven said the fight was too close to call. That adds up to a record of 186 wins, 3 losses, and 7 draws.

Sugar Ray Leonard was the clear #2 choice. His projected tournament record was 146 wins, 30 losses, and 20 draws. Throw out his 28 fights against the original Sugar Ray, and Leonard comes in at 144 wins, 11 losses, and 13 draws.

Leonard and Hearns at their best were close to equal in the ring. But none of the electors picked Hearns over Leonard. Twenty-four picked Ray. The other four called the fight too close to call.

Hearns finished third and was a clear favorite over the five fighters who finished behind him. Here it should be noted that previous fights between the participants were relevant in the minds of the panelists but not necessarily dispositive. For example, Hearns blasted out Roberto Duran in two rounds. But Hearns and Duran fought at 154 pounds, not 147. And Roberto, who was 33 years old at the time, was at the end of a slide that saw him lose five of ten fights. Thus, while 22 panelists picked Hearns over Duran, five picked Roberto and one had the bout too close to call.

Floyd Mayweather finished fifth in the rankings with a composite record of 75 wins, 113 losses, and 8 draws. Some of the panelists were influenced by the belief that, unlike the other fighters listed, Floyd hasn't tested himself against the toughest possible inquisitors.

"I don't see Floyd signing up for this tournament," one panelist noted.

That said, one panelist (a trainer) voiced the view that Mayweather would have beaten Sugar Ray Robinson.

"Styles make fights," the panelist explained. "Floyd might have stunk out the joint. The crowd would be booing. But I think he'd win the fight."

Twenty-six panelists thought that Sugar Ray Leonard would have beaten Mayweather. The other two called the bout too close to call.

Twenty panelists favored Mayweather over Pacquiao with the fighters at their respective peaks. Five picked Pacquiao. Three called it too close to call.

Except for Emile Griffith (60.5 points) and Aaron Pryor (59.5), there was clear separation in the rankings between each of the fighters.

Manny Pacquiao finished eighth and showed best against Griffith (11 wins, 16 losses, 1 draw) and Pryor (10 wins, 16 losses, 2 draws).

Each of the fighters in the tournament deserves to be called great. But keep in mind; there have been other fighters in other weight classes during the past half-century who are equally deserving of praise. Think, for example, of Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, and Carlos Monzon.

So let's not get carried away by a wave of hyperbole when the big fights come along later this year.

thomas houser bookThomas Hauser can be reached by e-mail at His most recent book (Thomas Hauser on Sports: Remembering the Journey) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.





Comment on this article

amayseng says:

Fantastic part two.
Ill holla later.

brownsugar says:

Getting ready to take my grandson to see "Pacific Rim"...will be back to comment on what looks like a very comprehensive article.

Radam G says:

Wow! My reply didn't post. It must be the P-weather. But at the top, I got Money Mayweather. All of these fighters may have beat each other. We will never really know. Holla!

amayseng says:

In this era Radam Floyd wouldn't have been able to put shot his way past srl,srr, hearns or Duran.
And Floyd at 147 is a pot shot and run king.
In fact he wouldn't beat PAC at 147.

Radam G says:

I think that Money May beats everybody but "Hawk Time" Pryor and Da Manny. Overall I have Money May number one. I have Emile Griffith last. Holla!

brownsugar says:

Pacific rim global warming / climate change proganda/ carbon credits . Death valley high temp 2013 .last year that hit 120 was 1913 . A lot of cars backin 1913 .lol

Pacific Rim was Awesome...gonna round up some more of the family youth to see it again on Sunday...then go for a swim....Hey those Giant Robots can box too. I thought I saw one use the Shoulder Roll Defence to Parry an incoming Spiked Claw...better than Avatar...Ironman and the Original Transformers.

While on the subject of the Pacific..... beware of fish (like tilapia and farm raised salmon) produced in parts in and around China and Indonesia....also beware of garlic and certain veggies grown in the region as well.
The fish and veggies are fed and grown in raw human sewage.. don't take my word for it search the internet for details and names of the affected brands ...In some cases live chicken are suspended in wire cages above the artificial ponds to provide a continuous "drip"of nutriments. Be sure to always check the labeling.

Grimm says:

Hearns, I believe, takes Mayweather out - without much ado.

No matter the outcome of their amateur fight, I believe Pryor takes Hearns out. Crazy enough to take it to Hearns from the opening bell - Hearns always had most trouble with fighters that invaded his space and could withstand punishment. Pryor had the ultimate warriors mindset, and could and would do both.

A Duran as good as in the lightweights bests Pacquiao, as a master of the tricks of the trade. But at ww he wasn't his best, and the Pacquiao of 2009 would've overwhelmed him to a new 'no mas'.

Pacquiao runs into frustration as he can't catch Mayweather, who paints a masterpiece and drives the audience into severe insomnia.

SRL can't solve the agressive enigma of Pryors genius, but survives to get awarded with a disputed SD.

Pryor feels both robbed and invincible, and runs into a humiliated - and thus dangerous - Duran, who head-to-head uses his feet to put Pryor out of balance, shoves his hip in his groin, let his elbows follow his hooks and occasionally tries to bite him. Duran emerges victorious in the dirtiest fight since Wolgast-Nelson.

SRR beats them all, except - Hearns. That long ranger with his piston left is the anomali that SRR can't solve, and gets whipped into pieces before executed by the games most potent right hand of all times.

Griffith. Don't have a clue. Still, he's no 7 in my ww-rating of all times. Top 10 as follows, from top and down: 1. SRR. 2. Henry Armstrong. 3. SRL. 4. Kid Gavilan. 5. Jose Napoles. 6. Carmen Basilio. 7. EG. 8. Barney Ross. 9. Hearns (at his best at jw). 10. Jack Britton.

brownsugar says:

Nice scenario Grim.
However as awesome as Pryor was...(a force of nature below147 and still one of my favorites) he barely survived Arguello's right hand. Every time Pryor was hit his neurological network was interrupted for a few nano seconds....Pryor just knew how to ride the storm.
Pryor potentially beats anyone at 135 and 140...except the most astute boxers (Floyd because he operates between the split seconds most fighters need to act and react...and Duran who was a master ambush puncher who was skilled enough to set up the best boxers for his Sunday punch.. ....Duran would most certainly have caught Pryor coming in)
Also Pryors punch resistance would not be the same at 147..against Welterweights who had room to grow and compete all the way to light -heavy. Floyd however is an anomaly... a natural junior welter who's body density doesn't exceed 150lbs after rehydration shouldn't even be in the ring with guys who are rehydrating between 160 and 170lbs..except his spider-like agility and preternatural anticipation has allowed him to so far do the impossible but.(who knows with Canelo) .....Maywesther could potentially dance the Motor City Hitman into deep waters like Leonard did...but without the KO because of the most fragile hands in history...Ray Leonard on the other hand is too much for Floyd while a tiff with Pernell Whitaker is a toss up.... No opinion here is invalid as we try to reconstruct the most incredible WW fantasy fights in history.

Finally I'm not that big on Henry Armstrong.... one of the sloppiest fighters I've every seen...would've had a hard time getting past boxer - grappler supreme Robert Guerrero with that ancient butt-ugly technique....I personally don't think he should be in the conversation and would lay odds on Brandon Rio (a lightweight who weighs more than Mayweather after hydration) to also have a shot at beating the windmill-impersonating Icon.

Carmine Cas says:

I think Duran closes the distance on Pacquiao and bangs out a competitive but clear UD. Mayweather and Hearns is a toss up to me, Hearns' durability is a question mark but can Mayweather's fragile hands push it? Hearns' long reach and piston jab would pose huge problems to Merriweather. Leonard conquers all

Was Pacific Rim really that good? I am tempted to see it lol

brownsugar says:

I think Duran closes the distance on Pacquiao and bangs out a competitive but clear UD. Mayweather and Hearns is a toss up to me, Hearns' durability is a question mark but can Mayweather's fragile hands push it? Hearns' long reach and piston jab would pose huge problems to Merriweather. Leonard conquers all

Was Pacific Rim really that good? I am tempted to see it lol

Yes sir...
It's a P4P Quality piece of entertainment.
. I've seen it twice.. and will probably buy the bootleg and the legitimate commercial blue ray release.

amayseng says:

I'm gonna have to check it out.
My boy wants to see it.
Iron man one was good.
Transformers passable. The other transformers movies were bad.
I guess it's time for another giant Bot movie.

Grimm says:

Pryor (---) barely survived Arguello's right hand. Every time Pryor was hit his neurological network was interrupted for a few nano seconds....

Good point. Hit flush it could very well be over for him, and def against some of these names. I just think his relentlessness and refined savagery would be a whole lot to handle even for some of the welterweights finest o' all times.

No, Hank isn't part of the discussion, but what a workrate - what a workrate.

kidcanvas says:

come on lol you guys are funny,, neither mayweather or pacquiao could carry any of those guys jock way .. what a joke , hearns alone would be indicted for manslaughter if he fought any of them

GerardMcL says:

You just know it was Teddy that picked Floyd over Sugar Ray Robinson.

Fascinating list and personally I would have had Duran a bit higher in the overall. Hearns had the physical advantage over every other fighter with height and reach. There would have been some tremendous wars though.
I'd have to loved to seen Duran v Pacquaio, The Sugars, Mayweather against the swinging fury of Pryor and its such a pity they occupied different time zones and we couldn't enjoy Mayweather v Pacquaio......oh wait!!

Incidentally, do Floyd and Manny suffer more for not fighting each other when compared to these illustrious fighters? especially Floyd it has to be said.

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