Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have finally agreed to fight next spring (tentatively slated for March 13), giving us the dream bout that will easily crush all previous boxing PPV records.
I would say this will be the most hyped sporting event of the year, but there’s a chance that Brett Favre will play in the Super Bowl in February (please Football Gods: If you care about us at all, you won’t let this happen).
At this point, this fight is too close to call, so let’s look at some reasons why each of them could win.
WHY FLOYD WILL WIN
Coming into this fight, Mayweather has only had 40 professional fights (Pacquiao has 55) and only one since 2008 (Pacquiao has had five). Though it may not seem like a huge deal, I don't think it can be easily dismissed.
In 2008, while Pacquiao was going 12 rounds with Juan Manuel Marquez, nine rounds with David Diaz, and eight rounds with Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather was “punching” the Big Show in the face with brass knuckles and whooping it up with Vince McMahon.
With all the recent research that has been done on how repeated small hits to the head have cumulative effects that can lead to larger head injuries/concussions, the disparity in prior physical abuse could play a role.
Plus, after Mayweather's systematic dismantling of Marquez in September, it doesn’t look like the layoff affected him that much.
Defense wins championships
This bout might turn into the classic “unstoppable force v. immovable object” matchup. It comes down to whether Floyd's defense and counterattack style is better than Manny's aggressive attack approach. It's basically 1999 Rams against 1985 Bears.
In most sports, good defense tends to prevail over good offense, and I think the same applies to boxing.
It's possible that Mayweather could pull off a version of the rope-a-dope, a la Muhammad Ali-George Foreman in 1974 (not saying it's likely, but it is possible). I could see Mayweather inviting Pacquiao to attack him for 10 rounds and then trying to capitalize on openings as Pacquiao gets tired and frustrated.
So instead of rope-a-dope, it would be more like jog-around-the-ring-and-not-get-hit-a-dope or something like that.
Inexplicably, Pacquiao has decided to run for Congress in the Philippines again. After the debacle that happened when he ran in 2007, you would think he would wait till after he retired to run for office again.
What if Derek Jeter had been running for mayor of New York during the World Series? If he went 2-for-17 in the Series while campaigning, the media would have turned on him and the city would have been in a state of anarchy. The distractions would be off the charts.
Campaigning for election is expensive and exhausting, so you can imagine how difficult it would be to do that and train for a boxing match. This is the biggest moment in Pacquiao's life, and if even one second of preparation for the fight is compromised for this campaign, he's an idiot.
WHY MANNY WILL WIN
It’s like Dark Helmet said in Spaceballs: “There are two sides to every schwartz—an up side and a down side.” Though he might be more beaten up and tired, the upside to having logged a ton of boxing mileage in the past few years is that Manny is coming into this match with tons of momentum.
Look at the last five guys Pacquiao has gone through—Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, de la Hoya, David Diaz, and Marquez. His confidence is definitely sky high, and he has never fought better in his life.
Another football analogy: Mayweather is like the playoff team with a bye week that clinched a playoff spot in Week 14 and started resting its starters, while Manny is like the team that won four in a row to end the season to squeeze into the playoffs and is just now starting to hit its peak. Often times, the team that comes in with more momentum has the advantage.
Another classic matchup: the nearly impossible to knock down Mayweather (there's debate about whether he was knocked down or slipped against Zab Judah in 2006) against Pacquiao the knockout machine.
I would be OMZG-level stunned if Floyd got knocked out early, but the KO could come into play is if Pacquiao is down on points late in the match.
Remember Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko in 2003. Lewis was losing on every card, but he was able to open up a cut over Klitschko's eye and kept hammering it till he got the TKO. Pacquiao has the power to go crazy and get a knockout late in the match if he seems to be losing on points.
Let's be honest, Mayweather isn't exactly a lovable guy. I'm a huge fan, but he is so outlandish and pompous he makes Ocho Cinco seem humble by comparison. (I feel like those two were separated at birth. Wouldn't it be great to spend a weekend in Vegas with them? Umm, on second thought, maybe it'd be better to just watch them on a reality show.)
Anyway, I wouldn't say that Floyd has been outright ducking Manny, but we could have had this fight any time in the last two years.
On the other hand, Manny is a pretty easy guy to root for. He seems humble (although it might just be a language barrier), and his aggressive style is certainly fan-friendly. Once it becomes obvious that Floyd would rather dance around the ring all night than engage Manny punch for punch, the entire crowd is going to turn on him.
Finally, you have to factor in the judges. Boxing’s biggest downfall is the utter unpredictability (and sometimes incompetence) of the judges. I’d say there’s a 90 percent chance this fight goes 12 rounds, so it’s going to come down to whom the judges are more impressed by.
WHO WILL WIN
I think this is the best matchup of boxing skill since De La Hoya and Pernell Whitaker battled in 1997. These are far and away the best boxers alive, and it should be a great match for boxing fans.
But for the casual fan who wants to see a slugfest, beware, because this will be far from that. Mayweather simply won’t allow that to happen.
Like I said before, this fight is going to go the distance, and it will be up to the judges to give us a winner. The winner of this fight solidifies his status as one of the 25 greatest fighters of all time. I’m so pumped for this.
In the end, I would say Mayweather is a slight favorite, but if I had to bet, I would say Pacquiao will look more impressive and win a split decision.