Someone wrote in to me about the only credible people in the boxing world suited to predict the outcome of the biggest money fight in history (I can't bring myself to call it the biggest fight in history when the only determining factor for that assessment is the money generated across the board).
By this reader's logic, only past opponents of both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are fit to make an educated assessment. While I'm not sure they're the only ones capable of arriving at a reasonable-enough conclusion in terms of outcome, I like the arbitrary measure and feel like rolling with it in today's article contextualizing a certain tale of the tape of what coming based on this pretty fun measuring stick.
So let's give it a whirl and assess the points addressed:
Ricky Hatton lost by TKO to Mayweather in Round 10 of a 2007 contest while Pacquiao clocked Hatton out of the sport back in May 2009.
Hatton had this to say to a Scottish paper last week regarding favoring Mayweather for victory over Pacquiao, "He's just so good defensively and hard to hit."
It's interesting to me that Hatton dwells on his inability to locate Mayweather with his own power rather than how easily Pacquiao dismantled him with crushing efficiency and consistently overwhelmed him with speed and brutal counter punching that left Hatton squirming on the canvass to the horror of his countrymen who'd travled across the pond to cheer him on. Few thought Pacquiao had the ability to make the Englishmen look so outclassed given Mayweather's performance.
Oscar De La Hoya lost by split decision to Floyd Mayweather in May of 2007 while Many Pacquiao forced De La Hoya to quit on his stool in the eighth round of their December 2008 fight.
Predictions for Pacquiao vs. Mayweather?
As with Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao's definitive dominance over Oscar pushed him to the conclusion that retirement was the necessary next step. Yet again Pacquiao overwhelmed another major opponent with greater ease than most experts and fan alike ever thought possible. After the fact of course, everyone (including Oscar) seemed to have foreknowledge that De La Hoya wasn't the fighter he used to be or was outright shot. It wasn't an impression you'd have gotten while watching Pacquiao pummel Oscar with infinitely more ease than Mayweather achieved.
As with Hatton, Oscar emphatically endorses Mayweather against Pacquiao on the basis of style. He told fightype.com, "There is no doubt in my mind Mayweather beats Pacquiao. Styles make fights." He points out Mayweather has the tools necessary for victory given his sense of timing is a superior asset compared to Pacquiao's speed.
All of which seems very reasonable. Nobody would give you an argument that the De La Hoya who faced Mayweather was a vastly superior fighter to the one who Pacquiao steamrolled (can you imagine Oscar quitting on a stool in any other fight?).
Shane Mosley was routed by Floyd Mayweather jr. back in May of 2010 and spent an entire fight avoiding a beating a year later from Manny Pacquiao a year later.
Mosley told boxingscene.com, "The fight would be interesting. Manny has good punching power. Mayweather is a technical and defensive. It would be a very tough fight for both of them. Pacquiao is the tougher fighter. Mayweather has great defense and has a great boxing IQ. It's going to be a difficult fight for both."
It's assessments like this that leave open the possibility of the fight having a hope in hell of living up to the hype (prior to the Pacquiao-Marquez fight, that is).
Mosley exposed two cardinal things about Mayweather in their fight: while he can be hit by a serious punch thrown to take him out, if you fail to take him out, his mental toughness as a champion is second-to-none. Mosley looked more frightened landing those huge right hands that buckled Floyd Mayweather's knees than Floyd looked taking them.
For me, those moments when Mayweather was in trouble put to rest any doubt in my mind regarding his courage and confidence as a champion. He's the complete package as a fighter with a style that, while not fan friendly most of the time, would have given any fighter in history a world of trouble.
Mayweather, Jr. may not have had the athletic genius of someone like Roy Jones Jr. (don't get me wrong, he's a helluva an athlete), but he combines near-genius as an athlete with unsurpassed fundamentals and instincts as a boxer. And the results speak for themselves.
Finally, we come to Juan Manuel Marquez. I wonder where we could be going with this one...
Pacquiao lost three narrow decisions to Marquez between May 2004 and last Saturday night, while judges awarded him a dubious 0-2-1 record for his efforts—very disheartening stuff. Against Mayweather, Jr., Marquez was crushed in a landslide unanimous decision. He looked hopelessly outclassed to the tune that most experts feared for his life against Pacquiao going into last Saturday's contest.
Surprise, surprise, Marquez continues to have Pacquiao's number.
In a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, Marquez picked Floyd based on style. He told badlefthook.com, "Boxing is about styles and I think the style of Floyd Mayweather would get very complicated for Manny Pacquiao."
I've never used Marquez as a litmus test into what Mayweather is capable of doing to Pacquiao the way many have tried to do. Sure, something can be learned from it given Floyd's obvious superior assets as a boxer and athlete, but the wrench that Marquez throws into Pacquiao's machinery might be a one-off rather than a testament to the old boxing adage of a boxer beating a puncher.
What the latest Marquez fight illustrated as much as anything is that Pacquiao is not able to coast along as an elite superstar in the ring. His time is limited as a human being and most certainly as a star boxer for his time. Stretching yourself out too thin is worrisome for anyone working a nine-to-five job; for a world champion, fighter it's suicide. It'll catch up to you.
Rocky Marciano retired from the after having the intelligence and, more importantly, the humility of recognizing if Joe Louis, his hero, was incapable of escaping a bad end in boxing it might be time for him to walk away before it was too late. He still had some good fights in him. He admitted as such. However, the Pacquiao we saw last weekend is vulnerable. He's had a long career and at 32 a slide isn't so far off, gradual or precipitous, as the case may be.
More than past opponents and what we can glean from the battles and outcomes, Pacquiao's biggest battle is going to be coming to terms with how he wants to leave the sport of boxing. The gravy train of the last series of bouts is done. The next great battle has to be prepared for with the focus it deserves. Pacquiao already abdicated the thrown of pound-for-pound to Floyd via a victory over Marquez.
The fight of his life is coming up next and while Pacquiao has shown that outside distractions are capable of influencing the results of his fights, that's just not the case with Floyd Mayweather jr.
It'll be interesting to see how it unfolds...