Manny Pacquiao escaped with another narrow victory against Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night. With the split-decision win, we are one step closer to a showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
If Pacquiao thought Marquez was tough, he will face a whole new challenge against Mayweather. Through three fights, Marquez has made it clear that Pacquiao can be beaten via a great game plan and flawless execution.
Here are the clear factors Pacquiao will have to overcome if he is going to take down the undefeated champion.
Through three fights Marquez has exposed some weaknesses in Pacquiao’s game that Mayweather will be sure to exploit.
First and foremost is Pacquiao’s inability to escape the overhand right. This is the same punch that Mayweather dominated Marquez with in their 2009 matchup.
It was Mayweather’s second weapon of choice in that fight, as Money May leaned more on the left hook. Against Victor Ortiz, Mayweather gave us a tutorial of how devastating his right hand can be, and I’m not even counting the controversial punch that ended the fight.
The question will not be if Mayweather can land the punch, but rather how well Pacquiao can absorb it. Pacquiao proved he cannot escape it against Marquez, whose hand speed is average compared to Mayweather’s blinding quickness, so there is little reason to believe Pacquiao will have more success against Mayweather.
The most mistaken commodity about Mayweather is that he has little power.
Pacquiao gets the credit as the stronger fighter, but their percentage of wins by knockout is virtually the same (62 and 64). Marquez may have not put Pacquiao on the canvas, but he hurt him several times throughout their bouts.
Opponents often come out of fights with Mayweather surprised by his strength.
If Mayweather does not put his opponent down, he almost always cuts him with crisp sharp punches. No one questions Manny Pacquiao's toughness, but Mayweather has already put his toughness on display against two of the toughest fighters of his generation.
Mayweather battered the Arturo Gatti for six rounds before referee Earl Morton mercifully ended it. In 2003 Money May put Diego Corrales down an incredible five times before Corrales' corner threw in the towel.
Marquez gave Pacquiao trouble in part because of his slight size advantage, and Mayweather is bigger than both of them. Marquez was able to stay on the outside to work his magic as a counterpuncher as Pacquiao bored in.
Regardless of what weight the two choose to fight, Mayweather brings a five-inch reach advantage into their match. Pacquiao has been hittable throughout his career, relying on tenacity and offense to become the most popular fighter in the sport.
Against Mayweather, he will be an easy target for lightning-fast jabs and straights.
Marquez was able to use Pacquiao’s aggression against him, executing his game plan to counter Pacquiao’s high-volume attack. Mayweather will do the same thing, but will have more success. Money’s size gives him a larger margin for error than Marquez, who had to be flawless against Pacquiao.
Mayweather is also a more innovative counterpuncher. Mayweather’s style is one of a kind and cannot be replicated or trained against. His quickness and shoulder rolls make him nearly an impossible target for the majority of his opponents.
If Pacquiao is going to find success against Mayweather, he needs to turn the tables and be the counterpuncher.
To do that Pacquiao has to use the bob and weave he displayed earlier in his career. Mayweather has made a conscious effort to be more fan-friendly and aggressive in recent fights than when he was taking on the likes of Oscar de la Hoya.
It will not be easy, but that effort can be used against him by a smart and skilled fighter like Manny Pacquiao.