The grass may always be greener on the other side, but let’s not nitpick the fact that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are actually fighting each other. The boxing world finally got what it wanted.
Sure, this bout may have been better a few years ago when both fighters weren’t on the wrong side of their 36th birthday and had a little more speed and power, but this is exactly what boxing needed.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are two megastars who will bring in the pay-per-view audience (and dollars), make headlines across the country (and globe) and capture the narrative of the sports world on the same day as the Kentucky Derby, NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs and early-season baseball.
Boxing couldn’t ask for much more.
With that in mind, here is a look at the schedule information for the long-awaited bout as well as an early prediction as the fight approaches.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao
Date: May 2
Location: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Records: Floyd Mayweather 47-0 (26 KO); Manny Pacquiao 57-5-2 (38 KO)
Odds: Floyd Mayweather -225; Manny Pacquiao +175 (via Odds Shark, as of Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET)
First things first—this fight is going the distance.
After all, Pacquiao hasn’t registered a knockout since 2009 against Miguel Cotto, and Mayweather only has a single stop in his past eight years of fighting (Victor Ortiz in 2011).
Pacquiao’s past as a knockout artist who simply overwhelmed opponents with his lightning speed and flurry of powerful punches is probably behind him, and Mayweather is more of a tactician than anything else at this stage of his career.
At age 36, Pacquiao may not have the power or even the speed that he did in his prime, but he is still a blur of activity level when he is in the ring. That won’t change when he squares off with Mayweather in May, especially when the amount of hype and adrenaline that surrounds this fight is taken into consideration.
Look for Pac-Man to establish control of the first few rounds while Mayweather falls back on his recent history of initially feeling his opponents out. Pacquiao will win a few of those early rounds in the process, especially if he unleashes his energy and constant barrage of quick and powerful punches that he is known for when he is at his best.
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, discussed the prospect of unleashing his fighter against Mayweather, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: “The challenge [of Mayweather] was bigger five years ago. I think Mayweather has slowed down a little bit. But he is still a great fighter. We’re going to need a great game plan to beat him.”
Perhaps the challenge would have been greater in the past, but Mayweather’s defense and counterpunching ability are still in place.
He has the knack to elude his opponent’s best shots and stay in the ring in the early rounds and make the necessary adjustments to win the later ones. Throw in his incredible defense and precise accuracy with his counterpunches, and it is no wonder that he is undefeated.
ESPN’s Skip Bayless believes that Mayweather may actually meet his match in this fight, though:
Mayweather has boxing genius. But it takes one to know one, and he knew right away Pacquiao also has rare boxing IQ -- an equalizing gift for setting up and taking down an opponent. Mayweather's other dominant advantage over every other opponent has been hand speed. Yet he could see Pacquiao's hands are as scary quick as his.
While Bayless may be right about Pac-Man’s speed, he underestimates Mayweather’s ability to strike with those quick counterpunches and his overwhelming defensive ability. Mayweather is unparalleled in the adjustment category, especially if his opponent seizes some early momentum while he is growing comfortable in the ring.
Pacquiao will expend more energy than Mayweather in those early rounds when he tries to establish momentum and control. Money will take advantage of any potential fatigue with his unstoppable jabs and timely counters late in the fight when Pac-Man fails to initially put him away.
That will ultimately be enough to ensure that the number zero remains in the loss column for Mayweather.
Prediction: Mayweather by decision.
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