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Mayweather and Pacquiao vs. the Modern 135-Pound Greats: Part Two

BY Thomas Hauser ON February 21, 2014
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Part One of this article explored a “fantasy” tournament contested among eight great lightweights of the past sixty years. Twenty-six experts predicted the outcome of fights at 135-pounds between Julio Cesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Carlos Ortiz, Manny Pacquiao, and Pernell Whitaker.

The final rankings were:

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

This installment of “Mayweather and Pacquiao vs. the Modern 135-Pound Greats” explores the underlying data and puts the tournament in context.

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

Fifteen of the 26 electors ranked Duran #1.

Four electors ranked Mayweather #1.

Three electors ranked Whitaker #1.

One elector (a matchmaker) ranked Ortiz #1.

In addition, two electors had Duran and Whitaker tied for first place, and one elector had Duran, Whitaker, and Mayweather in a three-way tie.

Fourteen electors gave Duran a perfect score (that is, winning all seven of his fights). Whitaker and Mayweather received three perfect scores and Ortiz one.

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

Chart #1 shows that, by and large, the matchmakers, trainers, media representatives, and historians saw things similarly. Duran was ranked #1 within each group of electors. The trainer and media rankings were identical to the final consensus. Mayweather and Pacquiao fared slightly better among historians than among other groups.

chart1 d22ec

Chart #2 shows the composite won-lost record for each fighter and how the panelists thought each fighter would fare against the other seven.

chart2 99279

Roberto Duran was regarded as the cream of the crop.

“People have forgotten how good Duran was at 135-pounds,” one elector noted. “He was an excellent defensive fighter with a savage attack and he could punch.”

Pernell Whitaker was the consensus choice for #2. “He was a defensive wizard,” another elector said. “He punched harder than people gave him credit for. And the fact that he was a southpaw made it even harder to figure him out.”

Floyd Mayweather ranked third.

“I don’t question Floyd’s skills,” an elector who thought Mayweather would win only three of seven fights in the tournament observed. “But all the other guys on this list relished the challenge of going in tough. Floyd might not have had the heart to win the fights in this tournament. We don’t know how he would have handled the pressure against fighters of this caliber.”

Some of the fights in the 135-pound fantasy tournament happened in real life. Mayweather and Pacquiao fought Mosley and Marquez. Whitaker and Chavez did battle. But none of these fights were contested at 135-pounds and, in most instances, one of the combatants was past his prime.

That answers the question of how four electors could pick Mosley over Mayweather at 135 pounds with one more calling the fight too close to call. “They fought at 147 pounds,” an elector explains. “And Shane was an old man (38 years old) by then. Shane was much better at 135 pounds than he was at the higher weights. And Floyd wasn’t as good at 135 as he is at 147.”

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that each of the fighters in this tournament merits recognition as a terrific fighter. On a given night, any one of them might have beaten the others.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by e-mail at thauser@rcn.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.

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Comment on this article

teaser says:

Duran was like a force of nature at 135 ...unrelenting for 15 rounds...always had gas in the tank to wear down and simply disdainfully overwhelm all comers...imagine a fight with JCC ...macho a macho !! now there's a ppv that would have been worth todays prices !!

Radam G says:

I'm on a different train from you, teaser. The bout probably would've ended in a KAYO, reminiscent of Duran-Hearns or Hagler-Hearns. When you get two hard-hitting bangers, stuff doesn't last but for a round or two. Except in the rare case that Hagler-Duran lasted for 15 big ONES, but was near a stinkfest. Holla!

amayseng says:

Duran was a bad muthafucka

the Roast says:

I'm on a different train from you, teaser. The bout probably would've ended in a KAYO, reminiscent of Duran-Hearns or Hagler-Hearns. When you get two hard-hitting bangers, stuff doesn't last but for a round or two. Except in the rare case that Hagler-Duran lasted for 15 big ONES, but was near a stinkfest. Holla!


I was recently watching the battle of the Z Boys, Zarate vs Zamora. You could tell it wasn't gonna last long. Those boys were bangin!

stormcentre says:

I was recently watching the battle of the Z Boys, Zarate vs Zamora. You could tell it wasn't gonna last long. Those boys were bangin!



Kennedy McKinney V Barrera wasn’t bad either; for a war.

Especially McKinney’s humorous, slurred and drugged out comments at the end, after he won, and how he praised . . “dis ere right hand”.

The Mosely that fought Holiday for the lightweight title, and perhaps even Oscar the first time; would have given Floyd trouble. Floyd knew it too.

Floyd is brilliant but he’s not always in for a tough night when the odds aren’t in some way stacked in his favor (who is) and for that I don’t think he beats a prime and angry Duran, maybe not even a prime Sugar Ray Leonard.

Actually, Alex Arguello V1&2 Pryor are good fights too.

As are Sanchez V Castillo, Gomez and Nelson.

Radam G says:

Ditto, Storm! Lil' Floyd would not even fight those prime-time monsters. He is a master at prizefighting, not pridefighting or vicious getdown. Holla!

stormcentre says:

Hey RG.

Who are you picking to win from Cotto V Martinez?

And why?

stormcentre says:

Hey RG.

Who are you picking to win from Cotto V Martinez?

And why?

Radam G says:

I'm riding straight-up shotgun with Miguel Cotto's left hook to the body and head. He has the edge. And will get Sergio Martinez in trouble umpteen times. SM will be hard pressed to go the distant. Holla!

Radam G says:

BTW, Sergio Martinez has game for sting-bean fighters. With a close-to-the-ground fighter, SM will not be able to defend against the left hooks to the body and head. By movinG and dancing, SM will be a sitting duck. His only chance is to crowd the hook and shoot a left cross. Otherwise Miguel Cotton is BOSS! And SM can expect a loss. Holla!

stormcentre says:

Hmm, hard one as the Martinez that blew Williams out would probably give Cotto serious trouble.

Then Cotto probably handles JCC Jr. with some ease as well; so there's that yardstick as well - which is by no means absolute.

Sergio is pretty dynamic, unorthodox and quite athletic too.

He’s the sort of guy that will look easy to beat when he gets beat (no integrated defence and wide shots), but whilst he retains that athletic style and advantage he could be hard.

Particularly if Cotto is punching up, and I don’t know who is taller. I suspect Martinez is taller and has more reach.

That said Cotto’s style of going down the middle and keeping it tight is the kind of style to bring Martinez apart, if he has not recovered from his layoff and injuries.

Unfortunately I don’t know enough about where Martinez is right now to make a solid call.

Rodriguez is probably no gauge of where Cotto is right now either. If Martinez is in form and moves around I think Cotto will have trouble, as Cotto’s style - no matter what Roach does to it - is always predictable by is footwork.

And you can't change that now.

dino da vinci says:

@Storm. I know I'm getting to this dance late, and may have missed some exchanges but I was in the KMcK camp for the fight with Barrera that launched HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' series. Barrera won that scrap.

the Roast says:

Dino! Where you been? You are correct Barrera won that first BAD main event TKO 12 after hitting the deck earlier in the fight.

dino da vinci says:

Hello Roast! Just happen to be working on the biggest boxing project in the sports history. Tends to be overwhelming in spots.

I was at that fight. Kennedy was not doing well early, and after one particularly brutal round, I thought Pat Russell should have stopped it. I thought Coach Adams should have stopped it. And of course Kennedy comes off the stool and drops Barrera the very next round.

I love Steve Smoger, who is also world class, (and a great many people's first choice, but for me, Pat Russell is the best referee in the world, and that particular fight wasn't an easy fight to work.

A friend of mine watched it on TV and told me for all the success Barrera was having early, he felt when Kennedy appeared to be having his moment, he thought Barrera looked like he might of wanted to quit. And my friend knows the sport quite well.

How's Italy treating you?

stormcentre says:

@Storm. I know I'm getting to this dance late, and may have missed some exchanges but I was in the KMcK camp for the fight with Barrera that launched HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' series. Barrera won that scrap.


Hey There,

Yes it’s a close call. I mean wow .. . KMK and Barrera both really pushed themselves.

Barrera did really slap him around a bit, but then KMK came back out of the blue and got the W.

Great fight is all I can say.

Epitomizes determination

stormcentre says:

@Storm. I know I'm getting to this dance late, and may have missed some exchanges but I was in the KMcK camp for the fight with Barrera that launched HBO's 'Boxing After Dark' series. Barrera won that scrap.


Hey There,

Yes it’s a close call. I mean wow .. . KMK and Barrera both really pushed themselves.

Barrera did really slap him around a bit, but then KMK came back out of the blue and got the W.

Great fight is all I can say.

Epitomizes determination

dino da vinci says:

I believe you're confusing that fight with the Junior Jones fight.

stormcentre says:

Yes you're right . . kind of.

Barrera was the one that had a good fight with Junior Jones but got beaten by Junior Jones.

I think Jones may have scored a KD as well. It was a good back and forth fight; but JJ had MAB's number, basically.

The fight with KMK I was thinking of where he praised his right hand afterwards was the one where he KO’d Junior Jones.

Junior Jones was expected to beat KMK because he lost to Marco Antonio Barrera, but then KMK came back from a KD and spectacularly KO’d Jones; if my memory serves me correctly.

The Junior Jones V Kennedy McKinney fight was the one I was thinking of - that was like a mini Hagler V Hearns.

Didn’t last long, but was good whilst it did.

Thanks for that DDV.

stormcentre says:

Yes you're right . . kind of.

Barrera was the one that had a good fight with Junior Jones but got beaten by Junior Jones.

I think Jones may have scored a KD as well. It was a good back and forth fight; but JJ had MAB's number, basically.

The fight with KMK I was thinking of where he praised his right hand afterwards was the one where he KO’d Junior Jones.

Junior Jones was expected to beat KMK because he lost to Marco Antonio Barrera, but then KMK came back from a KD and spectacularly KO’d Jones; if my memory serves me correctly.

The Junior Jones V Kennedy McKinney fight was the one I was thinking of - that was like a mini Hagler V Hearns.

Didn’t last long, but was good whilst it did.

Thanks for that DDV.

Carmine Cas says:

Tough line up for Floyd, although he was more offensive at 135 Castillo I comes to mind. And against the likes of Duran, Chavez, Mosley, Whitaker he would not have faired well.

dino da vinci says:

Absolutely, Storm.

Radam G says:

Wow! NEWS FLASH: Dino is the tortoise-ing his way to the 1,000-posts Club. He has turtle shot by many hares and jackrabbits. Hehehe! Holla!

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