Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Major Questions Surrounding Highly Anticipated Bout

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2015

AP Images

It's not like boxing fans needed the official confirmation to talk about a potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, and it didn't take long for that talk to become overwhelmingly tedious.

But now that the fight is actually happening, who cares how much the fight gets discussed?

"I am very happy that Floyd Mayweather and I can give the fans the fight they have wanted for so many years," Pacquiao said about getting everything finalized, per Joe DePaolo of The New York Times. "They have waited long enough, and they deserve it."

Considering the time it took to put this whole thing together and what it will mean for boxing fans everywhere, this fight will be one of the biggest stories in sports right up until May 2.

The three questions below will be among the most heavily discussed.

Can the Fight Possibly Match or Even Exceed Expectations?

Whenever the question "Will Event X live up to the hype?" is asked, the answer often turns out to be no. In the days, weeks and months leading up to a massive spectacle, the hype train runs so far off the rails that whatever actually happens can't meet expectations.

When it comes to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, it would be easy to immediately conclude that the payoff for a fight this big is bound to be disappointing.

While the two remain among the best pound-for-pound stars going today, their skills are diminishing, if only a little. Mayweather was never known as a knockout artist, so this ESPN Stats and Info tweet won't come as a shock in that regard. For Pacquiao, it's evidence of his shrinking knockout power:

Also, when was the last really great fight of this scale?

The years of behind-the-scenes wrangling and false dawns, however, seem to have made fans more realistic about what Mayweather against Pacquiao will be.

As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden noted, there's even a race to be first in line to say both guys are completely washed up and the fight will be horrible:

Sure, Mayweather fighting Pacquiao would've been a lot better in 2007, but it's happening now.

This isn't like when Mike Tyson faced Lennox Lewis. Tyson was so far gone by then it's a wonder he made it eight rounds.

Neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao has suffered a downward spiral like Tyson, and the gulf between the two isn't as wide as it was for Lewis and Tyson.

On paper, everything is there for the fight to at least meet reasonable, practical expectations.

Will Floyd Mayweather's Defensive Style Bog Down the Aesthetic Beauty of the Fight?

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

While nobody can debate the efficacy of Mayweather's style, it certainly makes for some less-than-riveting theater. He uses his masterful defense to slowly suffocate his opponent until the fight is pretty much over by about the ninth round.

One could counter, though, that the biggest reason most of Mayweather's recent fights have been a bit boring and monotonous is that the guy opposing him—even Saul Alvarez—was made to look nowhere near his level.

Pacquiao is the toughest guy Mayweather has faced in years, thus somewhat negating that problem. He also won't become timid if he's looking at a decisive defeat; he'll throw everything he has at Mayweather.

And to those arguing Mayweather's defensive style will ruin the fight, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard put on one of the best fights ever despite Leonard's general reticence to get physical until the last 30 seconds of every round.

Hagler's and Leonard's contrasting styles played brilliantly against one another.

The beauty is in the struggle. Watching Pacquiao try to unlock Mayweather's defense will be a great tactical battle.

How Will the Match Actually Affect Each Fighter's Legacy?

MACAU - NOVEMBER 23:  Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines celebrates winning against Chris Algieri of the United States during the WBO world welterweight title at The Venetian on November 23, 2014 in Macau, Macau.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Chris Hyde/Getty Images

This is by far the trickiest question. It's impossible to know the answer until years after both guys have stepped out of the ring for good.

At the very least, the fight will end the debate about which star is better.

In terms of overall body of work, you get the sense Mayweather has more to gain and also more to lose by taking this fight.

A win may finally cement Mayweather as amazing beyond measure, while a defeat would mean he's simply a great fighter from a somewhat watered-down era.

"He can see the end," Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza said of Mayweather, per Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop. "That may have forced him to consider what it would be like to end his career without fighting the one guy that everyone wants to see him fight. That caused him to redouble his efforts."

Taking that risk certainly outweighs leaving the boxing ring with a massive unanswered question dogging your legacy.

For Pacquiao, to a certain extent, it's hard to picture what beating Mayweather would do for him because nobody's beaten him before. Maybe Pacquiao enters rarefied air, or fans could knock down Mayweather and discount what the victory means.

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