Predicting How Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao Would Play out Round-by-Round

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

Predicting How Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao Would Play out Round-by-Round

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    Floyd Mayweather looked as dominant as ever against Canelo Alvarez, but how would he fare in a mythical matchup with Manny Pacquiao?
    Floyd Mayweather looked as dominant as ever against Canelo Alvarez, but how would he fare in a mythical matchup with Manny Pacquiao?Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and—the one-time occupant of that throne—Manny Pacquiao have been locked in a cosmic dance for the better part of the past several years. Hundreds of jabs have been thrown on television, in social media and amongst the boxing press, but unfortunately for fans, none have actually been thrown or landed inside a ring. 

    At different times in the often complex, and sideshow-like, negotiations between the two fighters and their camps, both men have played a part in derailing what would've been possibly the biggest superfight in boxing history. 

    You can point to Mayweather's money demands, or Pacquiao's initial reluctance to agree to strict drug testing and ascribe as much blame as you wish depending on what side you come down on. And the odds are you do come down on one side. There is very little middle ground in this debate.

    But what would happen if they do fight. What if, somehow, all the issues miraculously get solved and both men actually place their names on the dotted line?

    The fight would be a diminished product at this point and would've been a much bigger attraction a few years back, but here we fully break down the hypothetical. 

    Here is what would happen, round by round, if Mayweather and Pacquiao were to fight today.

Tale of the Tape

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    Manny Pacquiao hasn't aged as well as Floyd Mayweather.
    Manny Pacquiao hasn't aged as well as Floyd Mayweather.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

     

     

    Record

    Floyd Mayweather

     45-0, 26 KO

     

    Manny Pacquiao

     55-5-2, 38 KO

     

    Age3634
    Height5'8"5'6.5" 
    Reach72"67"
    Weight150.5 (last fight)145 (last fight)
    StanceOrthodoxSouthpaw
    HometownGrand Rapids, MichiganKibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines
    Last FightMD 12 Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (9/14/13) UD 12 Brandon Rios (11/22/13)

What You Need to Know: Floyd Mayweather

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    Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed top fighter, and attraction, in the sport of boxing.
    Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed top fighter, and attraction, in the sport of boxing.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Mayweather is undefeated as a professional fighter, and what's more, he's really never been challenged or in trouble inside the ring. It's rare to see him get hit at all, much less clean, and he's made a career out of making good and great fighters look ordinary.

    Whether you choose to refer to him as "Pretty Boy" Floyd or "Money" Mayweather, his accomplishments are certainly impressive.

    World championship's in five weight classes—from super featherweight to junior middleweight—eight overall world titles, three lineal championships and a litany of awards and commendations from boxing writers and media organizations. 

    Mayweather's Hall of Fame credentials have been secure for some time now, and the real debate centers on where he ranks in the pantheon of all-time great fighters. That's an extremely difficult—and more than a little subjective—question.

    It's not our purpose here to definitively rank him in a certain slot, but suffice it to say, he belongs in the conversation amongst the greats. His defensive prowess is on par with the best who have ever laced up the gloves, and his ability to walk into a ring, fight 12 rounds and walk out looking exactly the same is impressive on its own.

    In his last fight, he outboxed and embarrassed the previously undefeated Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in a fight that should've resulted in a lopsided unanimous decision victory. There was, possibly literally, only one person in the arena that night who felt the fight was remotely close—CJ Ross—who inexplicably scored the fight a 114-114 draw. But regardless, it was a clear-cut victory.

What You Need to Know: Manny Pacquiao

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    Manny Pacquiao simply overmatched Brandon Rios in his first fight back after a devastating knockout.
    Manny Pacquiao simply overmatched Brandon Rios in his first fight back after a devastating knockout.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Pacquiao is, at least to these eyes, the greatest fighter to ever come out of the Philippines. 

    He's the first fighter in boxing history to capture world championships in eight weight divisions—everywhere from flyweight to junior middleweight—he has 10 world titles overall and was the first man to capture the lineal title at four different weights. 

    Like Mayweather, Pacquiao's Hall of Fame ticket was punched a long time ago and he continues to fight to this day to add to, not secure, his legacy. 

    During his rise through the ranks, "Pacman" ran through some very impressive names. He holds victories over the triad of great Mexican fighters from the current era—Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez—along with Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley.

    Pacquiao is known for his blazing hand speed and huge punching power. In his day, he was able to walk into the ring and simply blitz through opponents. He'd throw so many fast punches, from so many angles and with such power, that opponent's simply couldn't keep up.

    It was the equivalent of walking into a chainsaw. It wasn't gonna stop going, and you weren't gonna stop hurting.

    But those dominant days seem to be past Pacquiao. He deserved a victory over Timothy Bradley last year—he was robbed by the judges but seemed to lack his trademark killer instinct—then was knocked unconscious by Marquez last December. 

    Pacquiao rebounded nicely with an impressive decision win over Rios from Macau, China, on Nov. 22, and once again proved he still has the talent to be a force in boxing.

Round 1

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    Mayweather had a tendency to feel out his foes in round one.
    Mayweather had a tendency to feel out his foes in round one.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Mayweather has a tendency to start off fights by feeling out his foe for a round or sometimes even two. He's able to do that because he knows that even if he drops the first couple on the scorecards, he'll have more than enough to win all the remaining ones for a wide unanimous decision victory.

    But something tells me that he would compact the feeling-out process, even if slightly, for the chance to make a statement against Pacquiao, who he doesn't only seem to dislike as a fighter linked to his career, but seems to harbor some significant personal animosity toward him.

    The bell rings and Mayweather shuffles out of his corner ready to go. Pacquiao, befitting his more calm aggression in recent years, doesn't rush out to meet him but saunters to the middle.

    Mayweather sticks to the outside in the first minute, attempting to potshot Pacquiao with jabs and follow them up with straight right hands. He lands a few crisp jabs to Pacquiao's head when he's coming in and wraps Manny up on the inside.

    Working with his free hand, Pacquiao digs some left hands to the body, as Mayweather shakes his head. The referee comes in to separate the two fighters and on the break, Floyd taps Pacquiao with a little left hand. Not meant to cause damage but to irk his foe, and he draws a warning from the referee.

    Manny, now angered by the showmanship, forces his way on the inside and uncorks one of his trademark combinations to the body and head. It was both showy and effective as the body punches found their mark, but Mayweather was easily able to evade the headshots with his movement and high guard.

    For the most part, the first round was about Mayweather's movement, getting Pacquiao's timing and a few flashy—if not overly effective—rallies for the Pacman. He takes Round 1, simply on activity.

    Pacquiao: 10-9

Round 2

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    Pacquiao's hand-speed advantage was decisive against Rios, but won't be against Mayweather.
    Pacquiao's hand-speed advantage was decisive against Rios, but won't be against Mayweather.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Returning to his corner between rounds, Mayweather will be greeted by his father Floyd Sr. with not quite a tongue lashing, but a mini-diatribe about how this boy (Pacquiao) can't hit him. That's not exactly a bold prediction; if you've ever met the elder Mayweather, you'd know it's just par for the course.

    Floyd will come out in the second round much less willing to simply potshot and allow his opponent to outwork him on the inside. Mayweather will be noticeably more aggressive, and when he puts his punches together he will be simply too fast for Pacquiao to keep up.

    Mayweather will keep distance again, and he'll lead with his left jab. He'll keep that punch pumping to discourage Pacquiao from letting his hands go and trying to get in his chest. Floyd will put together several damaging and flashy flurries in this round and not allow Pacquiao to steal the initiative. 

    But the Filipino won't be cowed easily. He'll eat a steady diet of jabs and straight right hands for most of this round, but he'll have a moment or two. 

    In the final 30 seconds, he'll back Mayweather up along the ropes and connect with a solid left hand upstairs that brings the crowd to its feet. Not really physically hurt, but stunned that the punch landed clean, Mayweather will let his hands go and lay a six-punch combo on Pacquiao to punctuate the round.

    Overall, a much better round for Floyd. He was more aggressive and showed that his hand speed and movement are the superior weapons in this fight.

    Mayweather 10-9

    Overall: 19-19

Round 3

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    Mayweather will begin to take control in the third.
    Mayweather will begin to take control in the third.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Coming out for Round 3, Pacquiao will be searching for answers on how to neutralize Mayweather's speed and movement advantages. Boxing isn't an option, and getting on the inside is also problematic, owning to Floyd's head movement and ability to land cleaner punches. 

    Mayweather is nothing if not efficient, and he likes to throw the exact number of punches necessary to do the damage he's seeking and no more. He's also lethally precise and has underrated power. He's not a big knockout puncher, but his punches come so fast, and from so many strange angles, that the force is multiplied.

    He'll stun Pacquiao in this round. With the fight already trending in a direction that favors Floyd, Pacman will come out looking to let his hands go a bit more this time around. He's fast, but he won't be fast enough.

    Most of his flurries will be caught on Floyd's elbows and, at least partially, be deflected by his gloves. He will land a few good shots, mainly to the body, but he'll also find himself eating a growing number of counters for his trouble. It'll be all Floyd heading into the final minute.

    Near the end of the round, Pacquiao will try to make something happen and stunt Mayweather's momentum and land something big. He'll find that difficult with Floyd ducking, dodging and rolling from the shots. 

    Pacquiao will leave one of his straight left hands out there for too long, and Mayweather will connect with a big straight right that makes him blink. There won't be enough time for Floyd to press his advantage, but it'll definitely make an impression.

    Mayweather 10-9

    Overall: Mayweather 29-28

Round 4

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    Pacquiao will realize it's getting late early.
    Pacquiao will realize it's getting late early.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Freddie Roach implores his man to get going in the corner between rounds, but the reality is that the 2013 version of Pacquiao just isn't what he was circa 2006 to 2009 or so. He won't stop trying and he'll keep coming forward, but he's just not on this level anymore.

    Sensing his foe getting frustrated, Mayweather will settle back into his boxing ways. He knows when he fights from distance that his speed and reflexes make it extremely difficult for Pacquiao to hit him. By the same token, those same advantages make it extremely easy for him to counter. 

    He'll walk to the center of the ring to begin Round 4 with a smile on his face. He seems to have that look of "I got this and I know it," even as Pacquiao continues trying to force a fight.

    Pacquiao leads with a double right jab, followed by a lunging left hand, which is partially deflected but lands on Mayweather's forehead. Manny, now on the inside, begins to throw punches fast and furious, but meets limited success. 

    When the two are in the center of the ring, it's all speed and movement. Mayweather leads with the jab and lands whenever he chooses to let his hands go. And he's out of dodge before Pacquiao can fire back. 

    This is just Mayweather being Mayweather, and Pacquiao has no answers as he drops his third straight round.

    Mayweather 10-9

    Overall: Mayweather 39-37

Round 5

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    Mayweather is just too slick and too good at this stage.
    Mayweather is just too slick and too good at this stage.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    For much of the first four rounds, it has been Pacquiao coming forward and Mayweather boxing while moving back. That dynamic will slightly change in the fifth.

    Mayweather, brimming with confidence, will begin to come forward behind his jab. He's looking to make a statement that he can fight aggressively if he wants/needs to do so. And he's looking to stamp out any lingering chance his opponent might feel he has of turning this thing around.

    But with added aggression, comes added risk, and the crowd will delight once again when Pacquiao is able to land a few telling punches in the early part of the round. Mayweather, rather than turning tail and getting back to his comfort zone, will refuse to be setback and will give as good as he receives. 

    The fifth will be the most exciting round thus far, with both guys willing to throw and eat punches, it'll be close and more difficult to score than the previous three, but Floyd will steal it with a late flurry.

    Mayweather 10-9

    Overall: Mayweather 49-46

Round 6

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    Pacquiao will take the sixth round as Floyd takes a break.
    Pacquiao will take the sixth round as Floyd takes a break.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    Starting to fall dangerously behind on the scorecards, Pacquiao will need to up his aggression level as the bout hits the midway point. He'll get lucky, in that he'll do that in the same round which Mayweather decides to take a bit of a breather.

    The fifth was extremely physical, and both guys threw a lot of punches, so it's natural for the pace to slow a bit in the next frame. 

    Mayweather will be less willing to engage in those type of firefights in this round, and he'll largely take it off. He will still throw his share of punches from the outside, but Pacquiao, sensing an opening to land some telling blows, will simply outwork him.

    That doesn't necessarily mean that a lot of his punches will land, or that the ones which do will cause serious damage, but he will throw more, land more and steal the sixth round. As is often the case against Floyd, many of those shots will be glancing, at best, but they'll look good, and they'll get the crowd once again into the fight.

    Pacquiao 10-9

    Overall: Mayweather 58-56

Round 7

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    Mayweather will begin to open up in the seventh.
    Mayweather will begin to open up in the seventh.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Feeling that he's adequately rested, and gave his foe his moment to shine, Mayweather will come out in the seventh ready to rumble. All the feeling out is done, all the close rounds will become a thing of the past.

    This is the round where Mayweather really begins to separate himself and leave little doubt in the eyes of all his detractors. Here is the moment in the fight where the cream rises to the top.

    Seeking to cash-in on a good sixth round that got him back into the fight, at least on the scorecards, Pacquiao will come charging across the ring at Mayweather. He'll have the crowd behind him and cheering his every move.

    And he'll get absolutely shredded by crisp counters and a more aggressive Mayweather than we've seen in years.

    Pacquiao will be stunned more than once in this round, nothing that could knock him out, but a lot of really solid shots that land with great precision and force. The oohing and aaahing of the crowd will quickly come to reflect one of those shots connecting with the Filipino's cranium.

    This will be the most one-sided round of the fight to this point, and it will set the stage for what's to come next.

    Mayweather 10-9 

    Overall: Mayweather 68-65

Round 8

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    Rumbles about the fight being stopped will begin here...
    Rumbles about the fight being stopped will begin here...Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    The seventh round was completely one-sided, and going into the eighth, the Mayweather corner is jubilant. They know the fight is going completely in their direction and they could be on their way to a stoppage victory. 

    Pacquiao was badly damaged by the previous round. He ate a bunch of clean, hard shots and isn't quite as fast out of the corner to begin Round 8. Mayweather, on the other hand, has a spring in his step as the two men meet in the center of the ring.

    Pacquiao attempts to jab Mayweather in the chest and get on the inside, but Floyd circles around and counters him with a right hand. He forces Manny to follow him toward the ropes, but he again evades the attack. It seems that he's toying with him at this point.

    Frustrated, Pacquiao bulls him into the ropes and attempts to go to work, but he doesn't land much of anything telling and instead eats a couple of solid counters. One of those counters causes a knee to buckle slightly.

    At the midway point, Mayweather once again switches it on, he attacks downstairs and follows it up with strong hooks to the head. Pacquiao takes them well, but he's beginning to get hit a little too often.

    Another round in the books for Floyd.

    Mayweather 10-9 

    Overall: 78-74 Mayweather

Round 9

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    Floyd will sense that the end is near.
    Floyd will sense that the end is near.Al Bello/Getty Images

    The bell rings for Round 9, and the rout is on. 

    Pacquiao is noticeably slower and less willing/able to let his hands go. That emboldens Mayweather, who now can shift back and forth—inside and outside—and lands punches when and where he wants them.

    It's become a completely one-sided affair, and the commentators are beginning to talk about a possible stoppage. Mayweather unloads on Pacquiao in the center of the ring and backs him up to the ropes. Floyd connects downstairs and upstairs with big flurries, and the referee is looking very closely now.

    Pacquiao forces his way into a clinch, and the referee separates the fighters. With just under 30 seconds in the fight, Floyd connects with a brilliant straight right hand that deposits Pacman on his butt. He beats the count, but the referee takes a long hard look as the bell rings to end the round.

    Manny isn't badly hurt, but the frustration level is definitely there, and he's taking a lot of shots.

    Mayweather 10-8

    Overall: Mayweather 88-82

Round 10

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    Freddie Roach will finally see enough and pull the plug.
    Freddie Roach will finally see enough and pull the plug.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Roach implores his fighter to get it going and stop taking punishment or he's going to stop the fight. But there really isn't a whole lot left.

    Mayweather rushes across the ring to meet his foe, sensing the chance for a spectacular stoppage and a career-validating victory. He opens up with combinations that back the Filipino into the ropes. 

    There really isn't much in the way of offense coming back from Pacquiao by this point, and he's eating far too many big punches. 

    Roach has finally seen enough and throws the towel into the ring, saving his fighter and giving Mayweather the defining victory of his career.

    Mayweather TKO 10 Pacquiao

Final Analysis

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    All work...is easy work?
    All work...is easy work?Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Mayweather would be just too quick, too smart and too good for Pacquiao at this stage of their respective careers. Had this fight taken place a few years back, then it might've been a different story.

    Mayweather has aged better than virtually any fighter in history. At 36 years old, there has been no measurable decline in his reflexes, lightning-fast speed or ability to duck, dodge and evade while making his opponent pay with countershots. 

    Father Time has been very good to him, and he's still at the top of his game.

    Pacquiao, on the other hand, has declined, if not precipitously then certainly measurably over his past several fights. He certainly didn't deserve to get jobbed against Bradley, but he didn't exactly leave no doubt in many of those rounds. He won them, yes, but he lacked the killer instinct that had marked his rise to the top.

    Against Marquez, he appeared to be getting closer to back on track. He bounced on his feet, landed hard, crisp shots and seemed on the verge of definitively defeating his foe. But then a missile right hand ended the night and raised a whole slew of new questions.

    Pacquiao answered many of them by defeating Rios on Nov. 22, but that was a fight set up for him to look good. 

    For all his guts and determination, Rios is a stationary target without great hand or foot speed. He was built to be picked apart, and that's exactly what happened. 

    But Mayweather is on an entirely different plane of boxing existence. His speed and movement are not just elite, they're all-time, and there's nothing in any of Manny's recent performances to suggest that he can handle that at this point.