The following paragraphs are not only meant to express my own opinion, but to ask of yours as well. Since there have probably been more articles on Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao than any other dream fight in the history of boxing, facts along with wild speculations blend into one big mess, allowing very little room for unbiased thought.
The following question came up in a conversation I recently had with a boxing enthusiast at a local bar where I live.
“What if Juan Manuel Marquez gives Pacquiao a run for his money in their upcoming bout, and the fight ends up being much closer than most believe? Will that indicate that since Mayweather Jr. was able to easily dismantle Marquez in their fight, he will do the same to Pacquiao if they ever meet inside the ring?”
This was a pretty good and valid question, to which unfortunately there are two completely opposite possible answers of yes and no.
The YES: Despite the fact that Marquez is a smarter fighter as well as more technical one in his fights, both Pacquiao and him have one big stylistic commonality: They are both offensive boxers.
Marquez and Pacquiao love to come in and trade anywhere in the ring, moving back only to readjust and change up the angle before coming back inside. Both fighters rarely come in with a single punch in mind, instead making it worth their while with multiple punch combinations upstairs as well as to the body. This way of boxing is Pacquiao’s bread and butter, as I have never seen him fight a patient fight.
Marquez, as far back as I can remember, has always been the same fighter, with the same plan and identical execution. His ring IQ made all the difference in the world, as his ability to adjust turned the tables quickly, leaving his opposition in abandonment of their own game plan.
There were multiple reasons why Marquez looked like a struggling amateur against Mayweather Jr., but one of the most important ones was the fact that Mayweather can fight real well off the back foot (something that neither Marquez nor Pacquiao have mastered in their careers). Jumping in and throwing a barrage of punches will land anyone in trouble against Floyd, as he quickly steps back and fires unbelievably accurate counters.
We know that Pacquiao is not afraid of being hit, and that he is capable of keeping constant pressure for the entire fight if needed. This might end up being his downfall. If Marquez can give Pacquiao any trouble, and Pacquiao fights the same fight against Floyd, the Pacman will be chasing a ghost the entire night.
The NO: Styles make fights, and it’s the job of a good coach to re-mold their fighter into a properly adjusted boxer focused on the right plan.
We have seen many fighters look a certain way in a given fight, only to come back completely different in a rematch. Game plans are mostly built on what the opponent is capable of, and how to take advantage of their mistakes.
If for example your opposition poses no threat to your chin in terms of their punching power, a coach is likely to instruct you to get inside and knock them out. But if they are powerful yet slow, you might want to fight a more careful and patient fight, pecking at them through the rounds.
In case of Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr., Freddie Roach is the key to the solution. Being a master tactician, he concocts an individualistic game plan for every fight, giving Pacquiao just the right advice to take full advantage of the other fighter’s mistakes.
Juan’s and Floyd’s fighting styles are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, thus I would expect Roach to plan accordingly. I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised to see a more reserved Pacquiao, although I feel that this style would play more against him rather than for him in any fight. I have been wrong many times about if and how Pacquiao was going to win, so my expectations and predictions on this man are no longer as solid as I used to think they were.
What do you think? Does it matter how Pacquiao performs against Marquez, and do you see it as an indication of his ability against Mayweather Jr.?