Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather: 5 Reasons Each Fighter Could Win This Fight
The fallout from Manny Pacquiao's rubber match against Juan Manuel Marquez has been significant for Pacquiao's reputation as a fighter.
But that's what happens when you've been inflated by the press and public alike into an unbeatable phenomenon.
It's quite possible even Floyd Mayweather Jr. had inflated Pacquiao's ability. Unlike today with Floyd calling out Pacquiao publicly, initially Mayweather sought excuses or conditions for taking Pacquiao on.
The best reasons Floyd could come up with to account for not just Pacquiao's success against a series of opponents, but the manner in which he was dispensing them, invariably came down to steroid use.
It was pretty easy to grasp where Mayweather was coming from: Nobody could move up that much and retain their power. Even more than that, Pacquiao was taking out opponents with more ease the bigger he got.
Why hadn't we seen anything like it before?
Then something drastic changed in our perception of Pacquiao with his third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. We'd had an opportunity to see how easily Floyd could dominate him, now most experts figured the improved Pacquiao since the rematch could show us how far he'd come.
It didn't happen. Now, Floyd Mayweather Jr. taking on Manny Pacquiao looks more pressing and interesting than ever.
Let's have a look at some of the reasons why.
Pacquiao vs. Hatton
What affords Pacquiao the greatest opportunity for success comes down to three things he demonstrated against Ricky Hatton: power, speed and tenacity.
Beyond those key attributes, Pacquiao employs them from angles most fighters have never seen before.
While Floyd Mayweather is widely credited as having one of the great defenses in the history of the sport, until recently, Pacquiao's offense garnered an equal amount of credit.
The question remains whether Floyd would ever give Pacquiao a chance to use it. If Marquez can nullify Pacquiao's weaponry, what could Floyd do?
Pacquiao vs. Marquez
It's possible Juan Manuel Marquez's three fights against Manny Pacquiao are less a litmus test of Pacquiao's overall worth and more just a signifier of that old adage that styles make fights.
There's no doubt Marquez has Pacquiao's number.
In 36 rounds of combat, Marquez could easily have a career record against Pacquiao amounting to 3-0. Instead, his career mark resides at 0-2-1 in three of the closest victories Pacquiao has on record.
In their most recent fight, even Freddie Roach conceded the contest could have gone either way. This isn't the kind of thing you hear often from Roach regarding Pacquiao.
Leading up to the fight, few seemed more certain of a KO victory than Freddie Roach, the man closest to him.
So what went wrong? Was it something that happened inside or outside the ring?
This is the most recent fight we have to go on in terms of getting a sense of Pacquiao's trajectory. Nothing seems to have delighted Floyd Mayweather more than this fight.
Mayweather vs. Marquez
The most damning evidence against Pacquiao taking on Mayweather might be an unfair one: If a boxer like Marquez can do that to you, what could Floyd do?
This was all you heard before Floyd himself took on Marquez and certainly before Pacquiao faced off with him in the rubber match.
Now the complexion of the match between Floyd and Manny looks very different than it did not all that long ago.
Floyd still looks as magnificent as ever. Manny might not have been as great as we thought.
But we're yet to see what kind of chemistry Floyd and Pacquiao have themselves.
Keep in mind George Foreman was a significant underdog when he stepped into the ring against Joe Frazier. So was Evander Holyfield against Tyson.
Hindsight reveals these matchups as easy picks. At the time it was something very different.
Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya
Pacquiao against De La Hoya has been used by greedy Pacquiao fans for some time to demonstrate what could happen if he got his gloves on Floyd.
Obviously the Oscar that Pacquiao took on was not the same one Mayweather did (not that I for a second believe Floyd's take that fighters he's beaten are never the same).
But Pacquiao's tenacity against the bigger man and routing of a boxing legend did show us something special about the character of Pacquiao. Pacquiao comes to win regardless of whom he faces. And winning for Pacquiao means blowing out his opponents.
This is at the heart of why he's such a beloved figure in the sport. He fights his battles in the style fans most want to see.
Floyd doesn't. And by a perhaps cruel calculation, the more Floyd is capable of, the more we resent him for not taking chances to put on display how spectacular his skills truly are.
What De La Hoya showed us about Pacquiao is that should he have the chance to take on Mayweather, don't look for him to be shy against him on the basis of Floyd's reputation. If anything, Pacquiao loves destroying names in the sport.
He has a habit of doing it and retiring those big names in the process.
Mayweather vs. De La Hoya
Floyd Mayweather had the biggest fight of his career at the age of 30 against Oscar De La Hoya. Oscar was 34 by then.
The fight brought Floyd into the consciousness of the boxing world like no other fight he's had over the course of his career.
Floyd relished the spotlight, flourished in it and has never looked back after winning a close decision over Oscar.
This fight showed Floyd not only can handle big fights, he enjoys them.
Which suggests Floyd Mayweather Jr. would bring nothing short of his A-game against Pacquiao.
Mayweather vs. Mosley
The Shane Mosley fight is a fascinating and perhaps misleading contest to assess Floyd Mayweather by.
The second round had the potential to cost Floyd Mayweather his undefeated record after Mosley landed two of the biggest punches Floyd had ever taken. Both hurt Mayweather.
But they didn't drop Mayweather, and he gained more composure in the midst of that danger than Mosley, seizing a critical advantage that the latter failed to capitalize on.
The rest of the fight, Mayweather glided to victory on the supremacy of his skills.
So there's little to indicate Floyd lost a step if you take the fight on the whole. But that second round showed us Floyd can be hit, he can be hurt and he certainly could be potentially finished off by someone as notorious a finisher as Pacquiao.
The question is whether Pacquiao could land that first punch.
Pacquiao vs. Mosley
Manny Pacquiao was able to do what Floyd Mayweather wasn't: He dropped Mosley in the third round.
Despite being dominated by both fighters, Mosley's body language during both fights seemed to imply Pacquiao posed the greater threat.
Mosley's efforts against Pacquiao have been widely criticized as cowardly given how long and fervently he petitioned for the fight.
Mosley revealed a considerable amount more about Mayweather's skill set than he was able to of Pacquiao.
We'd never known how Floyd would respond to adversity until Mosley landed the biggest shots Floyd had ever taken.
Against Pacquiao, especially after the third round, Mosley was a man in fear.
Mayweather vs. Castillo
There is no fight of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s career you'd have an easier time arguing that he lost than his epic battle against Jose Luis Castillo.
Obviously Floyd avenged himself in the rematch.
If you wanted a playbook by which to frustrate and land against Floyd's vaunted defense, Castillo's might be your best bet.
And Pacquiao is light years faster with his feet and hands.
Pacquiao vs. Margarito
Manny Pacquiao against Antonio Margarito is a telling fight for Pacquiao due to the obvious size differential. Margarito is big and he can punch.
Margarito is also an opponent many had wished Floyd Mayweather had fought early on.
Pacquiao steamrolled Margarito throughout the fight, winning nearly every second, if not minute or round of the action.
Where this fight is useful in gauging Pacquiao against Mayweather might be in Pacquiao's ability to walk through punches in order to unleash his own.
Should Floyd lose a bounce to his step or not be able to keep Pacquiao off with his own power, Pacquiao has certainly shown in his career he's capable of taking punches in order to unload with his own power.
Mayweather vs. Ortiz
Mayweather against Ortiz is of vital importance for the simple fact that Manny Pacquiao's best chance against Floyd just might be Floyd's age and the ensuing deterioration of his skills.
Given what we saw against Ortiz, though, that certainly hasn't happened yet.
Floyd Mayweather is every bit as fast, slick, focused and determined as he ever was.
And with Pacquiao coming off one of the weakest performances of his career, the timing looks ideal for Floyd to potentially make easy work of Pacquiao.