When Legends Collide: Pacquiao vs. Mayweather
By Daniel Reed: Three days from now, on May 2nd, 2015, one of the biggest events in sports history will take place. The world has eagerly awaited a clash that can be best described as better late than never. The transcending mega-fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao.
This fight, having not even taken place yet, already has its seat amongst the greats. On June 11th, 1982, we had Gerry Cooney taking on Larry Holmes at the outdoor arena at Caesar’s Palace. On September 12th, 1951, we saw Sugar Ray Robinson take back his Middleweight Title from Randolph Turpin in front of 61,437 spectators at the Polo Grounds in New York.
On April 15th, 1985 we witnessed what is now known today as “The War” between “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns at Caesar’s palace. We have seen the battle of the long count in the rematch between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney in 1927 at Soldier Field in Chicago. We saw Joe Louis knock out Max Schmeling in that iconic fight in front of 80,000 at Yankee Stadium in 1938. And we saw Joe Frazier successfully defend his Heavyweight Title against Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971 in Madison Square Garden. Now, now we will see two more legends collide and transcend the sport of boxing once again when their lightning fast hands clash this Saturday in the MGM Grand.
An In-depth look at the fighters
Rarely do you find anyone nowadays that does not know the names Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. These two fighters have catapulted themselves to stardom and cemented their names in not only boxing history, but sports history. However, many do not quite understand the magnitude of the coming storm. February 9th, 1996, a young Thai man named Rustico Torrecampo walked away with a 3rd round knockout victory in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila, Philippines. Little did he know, the young fighter he had beaten, a flashy Filipino southpaw named Manny Pacquiao, would go on to win 8 World Titles in as many divisions, making boxing history and surely sealing his name into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Pacquiao was a youngster when he lost to Torrecampo, barely 17 years old. As he grew, Pacquiao’s phenomenal skills and knowledge of boxing grew with him, on December 4th, 1998, Pacquiao won his first world title, the WBC World Flyweight Title, by 8th round knockout against Thailand’s then 33-1 world champ, Chatchai Sasakul, in the Tonsuk College Ground, Phuttamonthon, Thailand. Just three bouts later however, he lost it, again by 3rd round knockout, to the then 18-0 Thai fighter Medgoen “3-K Battery” Singsurat, and facing a fighter with a nickname like that, can you blame him?
It wasn’t until 2001, that Pacquiao decided a change was in order. He flew in to California, and one day showed up at a local LA gym known as The Wildcard, operated by Freddie Roach. He began training under Roach, and this would become one of the all-time greatest partnerships in sports. Pacquiao and Roach immediately had a connection, and with that, Pacquiao had his first fight on American soil, in the same arena he will be fighting in this Saturday, the MGM Grand. 33 wins, 22 knockouts, with only one defeat was the record of his opponent, Lehlo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba of South Africa. Ledwaba was being brought in as a future star in the Super-Bantamweight division, and was defending his IBF Super-Bantamweight Title for the 6th time against Pacquiao, whose name the commentators could barely even pronounce, and was coming in to fight Ledwaba on two weeks’ notice.
Speed, Power, Accuracy, Stamina, Angles, Footwork, and an overwhelming sense of the “wow factor” were on display as Pacquiao systematically picked Ledwaba apart and stopped him inside 6 rounds. Needless to say, by the end of this battering, the commentators could pronounce the name of Manny Pacquiao. Victories over Agapito Sanchez, Jorge Eliecer Julio, Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym, Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov, Emmanuel Lucero, a stoppage win over Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, and Fahsan 3K Battery (got to love that name) followed his performance over Ledwaba. The only blemish on Pacquiao’s record since the Singsurat loss was a split draw against future rival and hall of fame Mexican fighter Juan Manuel Marquez for the WBA and IBF World Featherweight Titles. In his next fight however since his stoppage win over the epically named Fahsan 3K Battery, he lost his first fight on American soil, a 12 round Unanimous decision to Mexican legend Erik Morales for the WBC International and IBA Super-Featherweight Titles.
In 2006 though, Pacquiao redeemed himself from the decision loss, with two stoppage wins over the aforementioned Morales, one a TKO in the 10th round, and one a Knockout in the 3rd. After another victory over Marco Antonio Barrera, by Unanimous decision over 12 rounds, Pacquiao once again faced the intelligent and dangerous Juan Manuel Marquez in their much-anticipated rematch. In the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Pacquiao and Marquez waged another exciting bout for the WBC World Super-featherweight Title, a fight in which Pacquiao won a razor thin split decision. Following that fight Pacquiao made a calculated move up to the Lightweight division, destroying WBC World Lightweight Champion David Diaz in 9 rounds to take that belt, and then storming through respective legends Oscar De La Hoya (8th round TKO) and Ricky Hatton (2 round demolition job) in another move up in weight. From then on it was up to Welterweight for Pacquiao, winning the WBO World Welterweight Title against Puerto Rican star, Miguel Cotto by 12th round TKO, and successfully defending it with a shutout Unanimous Decision over Joshua Clottey, a 12 round beat-down of Antonio Margarito, an easy UD over the great Shane Mosley, and a close, controversial Majority Decision win in his third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
However the next two fights were not kind to Pacquiao, he lost his WBO World Title against Timothy Bradley in a split decision even more controversial than his previous win over Marquez, and speaking of Marquez, a 6th round KO loss to Juan Manuel in a war which proved to be 2012’s Fight-of-The-Year followed. Pacquiao rebounded well though, three straight Unanimous Decision wins up until now, over Brandon Rios, Timothy Bradley, and Chris Algieri.
In the other corner, stands the biggest Pay-Per-View draw in the history of boxing, hailing from the tough streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the defensive master, Floyd “Money” Mayweather. While Pacquiao’s record stands at 57-5-2, with 38 Knockouts to his credit, Floyd’s is, as of yet, unblemished, a perfect 47-0, with 26 Knockouts. Mayweather had an amateur record of 84-6, and since losing in the Olympics to Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria, he hasn’t lost a single fight. In 1998, the same year Pacquiao won his first World Title, Mayweather, having only been in professional boxing for 2 years, won his. An 8th round TKO over the then 38-1 Genaro Hernandez in the Las Vegas Hilton won him the WBC World Super-Featherweight Title. Mayweather defended this title 8 times before moving up to Lightweight, defeating challengers: Angel Manfredy (then 25-2), Carlos Alberto Ramon Rios (then 44-2), Justin Juuko (then 33-2), Carlos Gerena (then 34-2), Gregorio Vargas (then 40-6), the famous warrior Diego Corrales (then 33-0) whom he dropped 5 times en route to a 10th round TKO, Carlos Hernandez (then 33-2), and Jesus Chavez who had a record of 35-1 at the time. Mayweather then sought to move up to the Lightweight division, for more of a challenge, in his first fight at Lightweight, on April 20th, 2002, at the MGM Grand, Mayweather faced Jose Luis Castillo, otherwise known as “El terrible”, for the WBC World Lightweight Title. Mayweather won by 12 round Unanimous Decision.
However the fight was quite close, and just as it would be for Pacquiao’s third fight with Marquez, few thought Floyd deserved the decision win. So he fought Castillo immediately again in his next fight, this time winning convincingly, once again by Unanimous Decision. Mayweather would go on to only fight twice more at Lightweight defending his title successfully with a 12 round Unanimous Decision over The Dominican Republic’s Victoriano Sosa, and a 7th round TKO over South Africa’s Phillip Ndou. Two wins over DeMarcus Corley and Henry Bruseless in WBC Super-Lightweight Title eliminators preceded his dominant 6th round stoppage of Blood-and-Guts Legend Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (RIP) on June 25th in Atlantic City to take the WBC World Super-Lightweight Title. He didn’t stay at Super-Lightweight long either, after a TKO over Sharmba Mitchell in the 6th round, Floyd immediately moved up to Welterweight, winning the IBF and IBO World Welterweight Titles against Zab Judah by Unanimous Decision, then taking the WBC World Welterweight Title from Carlos Manuel Baldomir also by Unanimous Decision. Floyd moved up temporarily to Super-Welterweight to fight Oscar De La Hoya after that, and on May 5th, 2007, won a controversial Split Decision over De La Hoya, giving him the WBC World Super-Welterweight Title.
Following that performance, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Marcos Rene Maidana would all be victims to Mayweather up until now, Maidana losing to him twice in succession.
Mayweather is intelligent, of all the skills he has, that has always been his BIGGEST and most important skill in the ring. There are many fighters who are fast, have great timing, speed, power, etc. but no fighter as of yet has been able to think faster than Floyd Mayweather. Those who try to out-think Mayweather in the ring end up being comprehensively out-boxed. That being said, Mayweather has always had faster reaction time, and hand speed, than any of the opponents he has faced so far. This does not apply to Manny Pacquiao.
On May 2nd Floyd will be stepping into the ring with a fighter who is just as fast as he is, if not faster, in hand speed. Pacquiao has speed, explosive power, and blistering combinations in his arsenal. But what Pacquiao has that may best-serve him in this fight is his unparalleled footwork. Pacquiao can attack from angles most fighters didn’t know existed until they stepped into the ring with him. Pacquiao fully utilizes the angles he can take advantage of from the southpaw stance, and his feet are just as fast as his hands, able to get him within punching range before most fighters can react.
On the fateful night in Las Vegas, Pay-Per-View records will be shattered, the entire world will be tuning in to watch these two legends collide. Mayweather’s precision-punching, intelligence, and fast reaction against Pacquiao’s speed, power, and angles can possibly make for a great fight. After all, these are arguably the two best Pound-for-Pound boxers of this era climbing between the ropes to face each other. This may not be 2009, and these fighters may not be at their absolute best, but it’s the two best pound-for-pound nonetheless, and it’s high-skilled, world class boxing, at its best. And, I, Daniel Reed, for one, will be glued to the television when the first bell rings.