Friday, May 1, 2015
The Fight of the Century
Almost exactly 4 years ago I took this to this space and laid into Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao for their inability to come together and make a fight that, at the time, was estimated to generate over $100 million in revenue (that outstanding write up can be read here). Fast forward 4 years and it is May 1, 2015 and it is safe to say that some things have changed.
For starters, my writing has improved. I know you are all thankful for that. Most importantly, the two biggest stars in the sport of boxing finally came together and got the deal done and will fight in a little over 24 hours in Las Vegas. Another big point that has changed is that this fight will far surpass that $100 million in revenue as Mayweather himself will bring in more than that when it is all said and done. So here we are, on the eve of the biggest sporting event in my 31 plus years of life. Quite simply put, this may be the biggest sporting event in most of our lives. However, when you take away the $4000+ tickets, the $100+ pay per view cost, the $500+ plane tickets, and the $600+ hotel prices, and you're left with the fact that one of these two fighters will cement their legacy when that final bell rings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
In the 4 years that has passed since I wrote that first article, the fighters themselves have changed. Pacquiao suffered a knockout loss to Marquez after that article. Mayweather fought Shane Mosley and was in trouble in the first two rounds, but eventually recovered to dominate that fight. Money May has gone on to fight for Showtime and pocket millions upon millions of dollars, and Pacquiao has gone on to recover from losses to Marquez and Timothy Bradley to establish himself as the clear cut #2 pound for pound fighter in the world. So here we are. Hours away from the fight that, whether these fighters like it or not, will define their legacies. The defensive wizard against the power punching ball of energy. The only thing left to decide happens to be the biggest question: Who wins?
The first thing to do is to realize that the past performances from these two fighters mean absolutely nothing to this fight other than to establish the tendencies that they are capable of. Truthfully, it doesn't really matter that Mosley rocked Mayweather in the second round of their fight. Likewise, it doesn't really matter that Marquez caught Pacquiao coming in and knocked him out cold. What DOES matter is that Mosley showed us that Mayweather can be caught early on in a fight, but we've known that for years. What DOES matter is that Marquez proved that Pacquiao is susceptible to a counter right, but we've known that for years also.
Pacquiao has been known to throw over 100 punches in a round, and I don't expect this fight to be any different...in the early rounds. I expect a very aggressive Pacquiao to come out of the gate and to attack Mayweather, not allowing him to dictate the pace of the fight. I believe this will work for the opening 9 to 12 minutes of the fight, which breaks down to the first 3 or 4 rounds. I expect the flow of the fight to cause Pacquaio to have to decrease his output after that to closer to 60 to 70 punches a round, still a substantial amount but far lower than the amount Pacquiao theoretically wants to throw. That's the beauty of Mayweather's defensive wizardry. He always seems to force his opponent to adapt to his style versus the other way around.
If Mayweather wants to win this fight, he has to avoid falling into the trap of allowing Pacquiao to steal rounds. Meaning, that even if he manages to force Pacquiao to throw "only" 60 to 70 punches, Mayweather must also return fire at a decent rate. Throwing 40 punches a round may not get the job done for Money, so he'll have to increase his work rate. The key punch for Mayweather will be his jab, specifically the jab to the body of Pacquiao. The Filipino warrior will throw punches, and he will throw plenty of them. In order for Mayweather to drain Pacquiao of as much energy as possible, he must work the body. Also, by working the body it will open up the right hook that can be Pacquiao's kryptonite.
Anybody that tells you that they know what will happen on Saturday night is a liar, and that includes Freddie Roach. I'm no different. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. In my opinion, a draw is just as likely as a Pacquiao victory via knockout which is just as likely as a Mayweather victory via the same method. This is a true "pick em" fight, and that's just another reason why this fight is a can't miss event. However, I know you didn't make it this far just to read that I have no official forecast. Well, Tha WeathaMan's official forecast for the Floyd "Money" Mayweather vs Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao fight is...Mayweather by Unanimous Decision.
I will be in Las Vegas for the weekend's festivities, so stay tuned for updates to come on that. Enjoy the fight ladies and gentlemen, because we'll never see another event like this in our lifetimes.