Mayweather vs Pacquiao Prediction
The iconic “Its showtime!” and “Lets get ready to rumble” boxing phrases are now just two days away. The larger than life Mayweather vs Pacquiao global show piece is almost here. Here’s our official preview and prediction ahead of Saturday night.
Fight of the Century
“On Saturday night, beneath the Vegas lights, an observant world will be perched on seat’s edge and presented with the rarest of sporting phenomena; the chance to discover who truly is the greatest fighter of their generation.”
If you invested all of your money in Apple shares when negotiations for a showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao first began, you would now own ten times that wealth. In the intervening six years, Spain and Germany have both won World Cups, Lady GaGa has become a global icon and faded back into relative ambiguity, and beards have become ‘cool’ again. Hipsterism has gradually trickled into sport, with many fight observers and scribes alike going rogue to the narrative, full-on contrarian, feigning a disinterest in a bona fide fight for the ages on each occasion talks imploded. Boxing fans became the man who pretends he’s fine when his girlfriend leaves him, but can’t bring himself to delete the pictures.
But the love of their life was to return.
The Fight of the Century is finally here. And it’s been a long time coming.
It’s time to forget the politics. Forget the negotiative breakdowns. Forget the money, the routinely mundane promotion, the press events or lack thereof. Forget the incessant, vomit-inducing back-patting between camps since the fight was announced back in March; “We finally did it.” Forget too, the notion that the fight should have happened in 2009. Or 2010. Or 2011.
On Saturday night, beneath the Vegas lights, an observant world will be perched on seat’s edge and presented with the rarest of sporting phenomena; the chance to discover who truly is the greatest fighter of their generation.
It is, by its purest definition, why we watch the sport.
“Unfortunately for Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather’s punitive shot is so often a fine-tuned manifestation of the straight-right counter that the Filipino has become susceptible to in recent years.”
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are renegades in the face of modern boxing conventionalism;
A brash, defensive wizard who has never tasted the canvas, not to mention defeat, and the highest-earning athlete on the planet.
A softly-spoken, southpaw slugger who moonlights as a national congressman, and whose offensive output is released from such unique angles it would leave a casual viewer cross-eyed.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are polar opposites in every sense, which makes their destined showdown a tantalising stylistic matchup. When ‘Money’ and ‘Pac-Man’ finally trade blows, fight fans’ excitement will be born of glue-eyed intrigue as opposed to conventional barn-burning action.
The fact that both fighters have displayed slight signs of regression as they enter their twilight years diminishes this prospect not; it merely provides a newly-tangible limitation to each man’s outrageous boxing ability- a context from within which to pre-judge the outcome.
In truth, there really is no point in delving into a previous decade to explore the scintillating skills or then freight train-like form of either fighter. Pacquiao went nuclear. Floyd was untouchable. Neither remains the case.
A world-record breaking 8-time world champion, Manny Pacquiao hasn’t stopped an opponent since his demolition of current World Middleweight champ Miguel Cotto in 2009. In their first fight, Marcos Maidana landed more punches on Floyd Mayweather than any other fighter in his 19-year career. Yet they remain, to their testament, two of the most adept pugilistic specialists on the planet. Both men have learned to adapt, and both will look to exploit recently perceived weaknesses in their opponent on Saturday night.
In Floyd Mayweather’s last two fights – both against Maidana – the 47(26)-0 pound-for-pound king threw 752 punches. In the 54(38)-5-2 Pacquiao’s corresponding two fights versus Timothy Bradley and Chris Algieri, the Filipino maestro threw almost twice as many.
But the oft-mentioned ‘Pacquiao outworks Mayweather and wins the fight’ narrative strikes as inherently flawed when both fighter’s punch stats are explored in more detail; Of 752 shots fired, Mayweather landed an average of 52.5 per cent on his Argentinian opponent. Of Pacquiao’s 1,340, just over a third hit their intended target.
And if you come at the king, you best not miss.
Floyd Mayweather may not be a better fighter than Muhammad Ali, but he is a superior defensive boxer. The five-time world champion’s head movement, footwork and incredible core strength have, over the years, culminated in a defensive system that may arguably be the best ever witnessed in a ring. The 38 year old’s ability to bend backwards from the waist with his chin tucked behind his guard when ‘trapped’ on the ropes could be considered Ali-like in its execution, but it’s more sophisticated, less penetrable. His face may still be pretty, but his shoulders are probably be the most physically abused in boxing. Even approaching his forties, Floyd Mayweather’s reflexes – if slightly faded – still rank amongst the best in the sport. And when the man they call ‘Money’ makes you miss, he makes you pay.
Unfortunately for Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather’s punitive shot is so often a fine-tuned manifestation of the straight-right counter that the Filipino has become susceptible to in recent years.
On the flip side, Manny Pacquiao presents a unique challenge to the pound-for-pound king at the MGM Grand on Saturday night. Pac-Man’s athleticism, energy and angular, flurried assaults have long been touted as the kryptonite to his opponent’s invincibility. If Marcos Maidana lay a blueprint on how to almost overthrow the world’s best fighter in their first scrap, it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that Pacquiao – a vastly superior technician to the Argentine with twice the hand speed – may carry with him the unprecedented amalgamation of activity, ferocity and skill to edge the 47-fight unbeaten veteran on the judges’ scorecards.
And if it is to happen, it will be on the cards; neither man is being bombed out on Saturday night. In fact, despite the perceived disparity in punching power – the scales of which are accurately tipped in Pac-Man’s favour – if either man is to hit the deck it will likely be the Filipino on the receiving end of a blink-and-you’ll-miss it right hand counter shot over his guard.
Manny Pacquiao and his perennial Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach will be more than aware that a ponderous start will be terminal to the Filipino icon’s chances of an upset. As such, the southpaw slugger will likely attempt to drag Floyd from his comfort zone in the opening exchanges with well-timed, furious flurries. Ultimately, a fast start is more important to a Mayweather opponent than it is to Mayweather.
The undefeated superstar will fall behind on the unofficial scorecards early; the first four or five rounds are when Manny’s higher punch output will be at its most effective. Intrinsically ring-cautious, Mayweather will look for patterns in Pacquaio’s activity while absorbing pressure up close- his larger frame allowing him to tie up if he does find himself pinned against the ropes. We won’t see it happen, but he will innately forge a plan to counteract Pac-Man’s unorthodox punching angles and fast footwork.
When Mayweather is satisfied that he knows what he needs to do to win, he will begin to unleash with greater fervour. The pattern of the fight will gradually change.
As Floyd finds his groove beneath the familiar Vegas lights in the middle rounds, and Pacquiao begins to eat straight-right counters like they’re his last meal, the Filipino will likely become more reckless in attempt to halt Floyd’s momentum. The subsequent bursts of actions will bring the electric MGM crowd to its feet, but will ultimately prove Pacquiao’s downfall as he takes thumping single shots over his left hand, while his returned fire is, for the most part, almost magnetically rejected and diverted to Floyd’s shoulders and arms.
Floyd Mayweather’s fists are far from concussive, but his shots have always been sharp and irritating enough to keep opponents at bay, relatively speaking, during the latter half of fights. That being said, Manny Pacquiao is not most opponents. The 36 year old southpaw, spurred on by his frenetic fans and the millions watching him back in his native land, will look to sustain his aggression through the middle rounds. He might not land flush consistently, but he will throw a sufficient variety of shots to keep the fight interesting heading into the championship rounds.
But in their twilight years, one of these fighters has started to make mistakes; the other has spent his career punishing them, and continues to do so.
There exists no weakness in Floyd Mayweather’s armoury. If he could simply be ‘outworked,’ it’s likely that one of his 47 opponents would have done it by now. Many have tried- but Floyd has always had an answer. Manny Pacquiao will likely throw twice as many punches as his opponent and still absorb more punishment than he dishes out on Saturday night.
By sheer volume alone, Pacquiao will push Mayweather close – if not to the brink – in the most eagerly anticipated fight of the century. But ultimately, Floyd Mayweather will do what Floyd Mayweather does best. Enough.
Mayweather rescues a hard-fought, close and fair decision to cement his status as the greatest fighter of his era. And you better believe we’ll do it all again in November.
Official Prediction: Floyd Mayweather by majority decision
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