Mayweather and Pacquiao vs. the Modern 135-Pound Greats: Part One
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are scheduled to enter the ring again this spring. When that happens, historical comparisons will fill the air.
Last year, TheSweetScience.com posted the results of a poll in which industry experts predicted the outcome of a fantasy round-robin tournament at 147 pounds. Mayweather and Pacquiao were among the participants. The runaway winner was Sugar Ray Robinson. Ray Leonard finished in second place.
Since then, numerous readers have asked how the experts think Mayweather and Pacquiao would have fared against the lightweight greats.
The answer follows.
The eight fighters chosen for the 135-pound fantasy round-robin tournament in alphabetical order are: Julio Cesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Carlos Ortiz, Manny Pacquiao, and Pernell Whitaker.
Legendary greats Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Tony Canzoneri. and Henry Armstrong weren’t included because there’s not enough available film footage to properly evaluate them. Ike Williams was also a bit before the cut-off date.
Issues such as same-day weigh-ins versus day-before weigh-ins might be considered by purists. And there’s a difference between going twelve rounds as opposed to fifteen. But at the end of the day, either a fighter is very good, great, or the greatest.
All of the fighters chosen for the tournament also fought at one time or another at weights other than 135 pounds. The electors were asked to assume for purposes of their predictions that each fighter is duplicating his best 135-pound performance.
Twenty-six experts participated in the rankings process. Listed alphabetically, the panelists are:
Trainers: Teddy Atlas, Pat Burns, Naazim Richardson, and Don Turner
Media: Al Bernstein, Steve Farhood, Harold Lederman, Paulie Malignaggi, Dan Rafael, and Michael Rosenthal
Matchmakers: Eric Bottjer, Don Elbaum, Bobby Goodman, Brad Goodman, Ron Katz, Mike Marchionte, Chris Middendorf, Russell Peltz, and Bruce Trampler
Historians: Craig Hamilton, Don McRae, Bob Mee, Clay Moyle, Adam Pollack, Randy Roberts, and Mike Tyson
That’s right! Mike Tyson. Mike is a serious historian when it comes to boxing. His input was very much valued.
If each of the eight fighters listed above had fought the other seven, there would have been 28 fights. And there were 26 panelists. Thus, 728 fights were entered in the data base.
Fighters were awarded one point for each predicted win and a half-point for each predicted draw (too close to call).
A perfect score (each voter predicting that the same fighter would win every one of his fights) would have been 182 points.
“Styles make fights,” one elector cautioned. “But it’s more than that. You don’t know for sure how these guys would have fought each other and what adjustments they would have made during the course of each fight.”
That said; the results have been tabulated. The rankings are:
Roberto Duran 164.5 points
Pernell Whitaker 133.5
Floyd Mayweather 122.0
Julio Cesar Chavez 102.5
Shane Mosley 71.0
Carlos Ortiz 53.5
Manny Pacquiao 48.5
Juan Manuel Marquez 32.5
PART TWO, analyzing the underlying data, will be posted tomorrow.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. His most recent book (Straight Writes and Jabs: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.