Floyd Mayweather Jr: Is 35 a Bad Age to Fight Manny Pacquiao?

Justin TateCorrespondent IJune 24, 2011

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0, 25 KOs)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0, 25 KOs)Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In the movie Heat, starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, DeNiro plays a professional thief and Pacino plays a cop.

DeNiro makes a big heist and gets away with it, leaving Pacino in frustrated desperation.

With his girlfriend in his passenger's seat, his money in the trunk, and his life ahead of him, he comes to two paths on the highway.

On one path, is the continuation of the getaway he has cleverly made for himself.

The other is an exit off the freeway toward a hotel to go and get revenge against an adversary that he wish he had dealt with long before.

Despite my popcorn-spewing attempts to scream at him to stay on the freeway and get away, he exited the freeway, parked his car, and proceeded to walk into a trail of events that would lead his chest to Pacino's bullets.

Floyd Mayweather is like DeNiro in that he got away from boxing, but now he's back to settle a score many wish he had done earlier.

But will he suffer the same fate as DeNiro?

Manny Pacquiao has been the ultimate for for the past three years. They've beaten similar opposition with vastly different, yet remarkably equal fighting styles.

Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) is the defensive genius who likes to wait for an opponent to make a mistake.

Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) is the offensive storm that gobbles up opponents in a tornado of punches.

Pacquiao is the obvious choice for the biggest money possible in one fight, but that one fight could end an undefeated streak he's worked on since 1996.

Mayweather has been like a thief of boxing, always stealing victories, but never getting caught with the right set of punches that could lead to his fall.

Many thought that like a thief, he had got away in 2007, when he retired from boxing after knocking out Ricky Hatton.

But Mayweather couldn't resist the temptation and he came back in 2009. He warmed up by stealing a one-sided victory from Juan Manuel Marquez. Then he stole a bigger one against Shane Mosley.

After a similar pause in activity, the thief is back to steal some more with a few boxing circles saying he could go for the biggest heist of them all by stealing a victory from Pacquiao.

The only problem is that there's a history of slick boxers Mayweather's age losing a step or two.

Two examples come to mind: Roy Jones Jr and Pernell Whitaker.

Whitaker (40-4-1, 17 KOs) suffered a draw and losses at the hands of judges who just didn't like his evasive style versus the more aggressive fighters he faced (Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya), despite the fact many of them punched mostly air.

But in 1999, at the age of 35, Whitaker returned to the ring after nearly two years of inactivity.

He faced future Puerto Rican legend Felix Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs). Whitaker was brutally beaten and revealed to be far past his better days.

Jones (54-8, 40 KOs) had one loss by his 35th birthday. He was disqualified in a match he was winning against Montell Griffin for hitting him while he was down.

Jones KO'ed Griffin in the first round of an immediate rematch.

Many (including I) believe the referee's call to be bogus, so Jones was basically undefeated and had become the first fighter in over a hundred years to win world titles in the middleweight (160 lbs), light-heavyweight (175 lbs), and heavyweight divisions.

He fought Antonio Tarver (28-6, 19 KOs) and barely outpointed him to reclaim the light-heavyweight title he had given up to become a heavyweight world champion.

Jones was at a crossroads, retire or rematch.

He unfortunately chose rematch. Tarver knocked Jones out cold in the second round and the rest was history.

Now Mayweather is at a similar crossroads.

Assuming he gets past his Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) in September, a megafight with Pacquiao looms like dark, grey clouds before a crackling of thunder and drizzle of rain.

The fight is financially worth coming back for as the hype will pay in dividends that are nearly unimaginable.

But will a 35-year-old Mayweather be too old to be competitive to a 33-year-old Pacquiao?

Every boxer has a magic number as to when their reflexes, speed, and durability begin to slip.

Mayweather could be a fight away from being too slow to avoid Pacquiao's hurricane of fists.

Likewise, Pacquiao may be one fight away from losing his ability to catch someone as speedy and elusive as Mayweather.

Only time will tell if either will lose enough ability to favor the other when or if they finally do meet.

35 has looked very old on quite a few formerly slick Black American fighters. Hopefully Mayweather will be a different case.