The proposed March 13 mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has been going through a whirlwind of negotiations lately, but that still doesn't diminish the anticipation for it.
Many fight fans and experts view this fight as a battle between the two greatest fighters of this decade.
It is without a doubt the most important fight for boxing, and it needs to happen—but it won't be as close as many people think.
Manny Pacquiao has simply dismantled every opponent since his second battle with Juan Manuel Marquez. His accomplishments have just been phenomenal to say the least.
Of course, he has beaten Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya in a quicker and more decisive manner than his potential March 13 dancing partner.
He also defeated Miguel Cotto convincingly over nearly 12 rounds before stopping him via TKO in the opening minute of the final round in their Nov. 14 bout—a fighter that most people believed the undefeated Mayweather avoided before his abrupt retirement.
Pacquiao has simply been great. But is it enough to simply say that his upcoming bout with Mayweather Jr. will be competitive?
Pacquiao's recent success has led many to believe that it will, and the odds are very close in betting lines. So many believe that this fight will pit two closely matched opponents together in a battle for the ages.
The fight will probably break any PPV records that stand today, but it will hardly be a hard-fought battle for Mayweather.
The fight favors Mayweather, a defensive wizard who hasn't been troubled since his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo over seven years ago, when he was supposedly nursing an injury to his shoulder. Even then he managed to pull out the victory.
Pacquiao has benefited from opponents that consistently attempted to trade blows with him—and Manny is phenomenal in all-out combat.
His fight with De La Hoya was an exhibition in which the bigger fighter went at the smaller fighter, relying on a left hook that Pacquiao never really gets hit with. Pacquiao danced around him and moved and slipped De La Hoya's best attempts at bull-rushing his smaller opponent.
It didn't work.
Hatton came into his fight with Pacquiao in a similar attempt. Feeling that he was the naturally bigger opponent and that he had never lost at his more natural weight of 140 lbs., he attempted to bull-rush and bully his smaller opponent.
He also ran into trouble.
Cotto actually had a little more success. But his lack of movement and his willingness to trade with the once thought to be smaller opponent spelled doom for the Puerto Rican.
But Mayweather will wait, and wait. Manny will have to come to him. That's where he will play into his opponent's game plan. He will stink his opponent out, but at the same time he takes away his opponent's corner. Manny's composure will be tested, and he will have to hold back a lot to avoid the counters.
Would Pacquiao be as dangerous by sitting down on his punches more as he was when he was throwing multiple blistering punches at his opponent?
Take the Juan Manuel Marquez battles with Manny into consideration. Between the two fights Marquez pulled out the most rounds but had to settle for a loss and a draw because of four recorded knockdowns early in the fight. Mayweather has never been knocked down; not to say that he won't touch the canvas in this fight, but it is highly unlikely it will be more than once, if any.
Marquez and Mayweather both are technically gifted counter-punchers, although Mayweather is faster. He's also bigger with a longer reach, and he rarely gets hit.
Later in both fights with Marquez, Pacquiao was figured out by a smart Mexican fighter. One of Pacquiao's biggest weaknesses is that he gets hit a lot. Mayweather's biggest strength is that he doesn't.
Manny never adjusted well in his second fight with Marquez and even the first fight with Erik Morales. Freddie Roach, a great trainer, seems to come in with a great game plan from the start but usually doesn't have a plan B or C. In the attempt to defeat Mayweather when he was employed by De La Hoya, Oscar cracked in the second half of the fight.
That could have just been Mayweather or a lack of adjustment by Oscar's corner.
If whatever game plan Roach employs against Mayweather goes up in smoke, will he adjust well?
Later in Mayweather's career he started to come into his fights very safely and stepped on the gas once he figured the opponent out. He did it in all his fights where he fought or felt he was fighting a truly game opponent. We saw it in the Hatton, De La Hoya, and Zab Judah fights to name a few.
Marquez is a very intelligent fighter, and he showed it with his fights with Pacquiao. But Mayweather is probably the smartest in the game today. Manny Pacquiao has about four rounds to pile up points on the judges' scorecards. If he doesn't, he will have to go to his plan B, because Mayweather will just be checking into his plan A.
It will be a lot of pressure on Roach to create scenarios when Mayweather steps on the gas, when he sees Pacquiao's vulnerability to his counter rights—a punch that Pacquiao is vulnerable to and one that Mayweather has had the most success with.
Anticipate Mayweather to jab more as he did with Marquez. He will use his five-inch reach advantage. Out of his orthodox jabbing stance he seems to throw a left hook and also a straight right, and it will be on Pacquiao to distinguish which punch will come of this stance.
I see the first half of the rounds being split, but the second half of the fight is clearly in favor of Floyd's ability to adjust.
The fight won't be as electrifying as many think, but just seeing these two guys just walking to the ring will be worth the wait.
Bryant Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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