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