Well, it’s finally here. The fight we all have been waiting for is upon us. The “Fight of the Century”. The fight that has everyone from the “Pactards”, to the “Flomo’s”, to the little old ladies at the salon talking and commenting. This fight has generated so much attention that novices from ESPN, Sky News, Bleacher Report and various other major media outlets are talking about it as if they have covered boxing for centuries. While all these “bandwagon” fans are nice and all, let’s be real. This fight is really for us hard-core fans who continually support our sport through the good times and the bad. The kind of fans who watched ABC Wide World of Sports, USA Tuesday Night Fights, Ballroom Boxing, ESPN Friday Night Fights, MSG Network and a litany of other channels that showed boxing of any kind. Even more so this fight is to decide (unfairly) among “hardcores”, who is the best fighter of this generation.
Most boxing fans, hardcore or not, are either pro-Manny or pro-Floyd it seems. They see it as “Good vs Evil”. A righteous God-fearing man (even though both pray to the same God) versus a horrible sinful man (even though both have committed their fair share of sins). It is almost impossible to find someone who actually likes both fighters and wants them both to win, but that is where I find myself. No, I am not one of those guys that says “my head says Floyd, but my heart says Manny”. I like both fighters for different reasons and what they do outside the ring has no bearing on my feelings towards them as a fighter.
I have been watching Manny Pacquiao since before people really even knew who he was. I can remember that I was the only one of my friends who actually thought he would beat Marco Antonio Barrera let alone have a chance. I was there with him when Arum wanted him to fire Roach back in the day and for all the ups and downs and I still find him to be one of my favorite fighters of all-time and one of the most favorite fighters to watch for sure.
I have also been watching Floyd Mayweather for a very long time as well. Back when he absolutely destroyed Diego Corrales in a way I had never witnessed one champion annihilating another and back when he beat Philip Ndou in a very entertaining fight that showed all of Floyd’s skills against a fighter who was supposed to be a plausible threat. I even remember thinking at the time that Floyd was truly the best boxer I had ever seen and I had him ranked #1 on my P4P list over Roy Jones Jr. because he was a better all-around fighter who didn’t have to rely on his athleticism and reflexes to win fights.
As the years progressed and it seemed inevitable that both of these fighters were on a collision course towards each other I would often ponder who would win and without fail I would always pick Floyd based on him being a better all-around fighter than Manny. Although I definitely felt that Manny could win by knockout. As they both got older and Manny fought Juan Manuel Marquez (JMM) for the third time seemingly, I said there is no doubt at all that Floyd would beat Manny because he is a bigger, faster and smarter version of Marquez and Manny had a very difficult time with that style.
After JMM brutally KOed Manny I thought the super fight was all but lost and I guessed no one need that question answered anymore but then Manny came back and reinvented himself as he totally outclassed Brandon Rios, Tim Bradley and Chris Algieri (although I can’t give him too much credit for this since Algieri is not a world class fighter). His volume punching and darting in and out style were back and he wasn’t just trying to knock everyone’s head off it seemed but rather he was trying to land effective punches and take chances when they presented themselves. Meanwhile, Floyd seemingly had a tough fight with Marcos Maidana in which he was hit more than ever and even though he easily won he ended up having a rematch with Marcos and he beat him even more easily because he did not take as many chances in the fight.
Now that the fight has come to fruition I have been conflicted with my pick because of not knowing which Floyd or Manny will show up. I have wondered if Manny will go all out and try to attack Floyd only to get countered to death and have also wondered if Floyd is going to try and lay on the ropes and risk letting Manny pile up the points or possibly get knocked out. What about if Manny tries to outbox Floyd (very bad idea by the way) or if Floyd tries to walk down Manny (another bad idea, at least in the first few rounds). I have had previous doubts about Floyd in the Shane Mosely fight and he almost got KOed in the 2nd round. I also doubted Floyd when he fought Canelo because I thought the size and power would just be too much for him. In both cases, I was very wrong to doubt Mayweather and those moments of doubt have led me to my prediction for this fight.
I see Floyd beating Manny somewhere around 8 rounds to 4 to earn a decision victory. I just think that Floyd is too smart, too elusive and has too many tools for Manny or anyone else for that matter. If he starts out boxing he can change to walking him down and if he starts out holding his ground he can change to moving and countering. I have never really seen Manny adjust in the ring and fight a different style fight to beat an opponent. Honestly, he has never really had to. At the end of the night I expect to see Floyd Mayweather announced as the winner of a decent fight between 2 of the best fighters I have ever seen but if by some chance Manny actually wins the fight I won’t be sad in the least. I will still enjoy watching both fighters and I will still place them amongst my greatest ever regardless of the outcome.
That’s all we got for this week but that is by far not all there was to talk about. Make sure that you catch Tha Boxing Voice weekly radio show live every Thursday and Sunday starting at 7pm (EST) or catch the podcast to get more insight and opinions on the world of boxing.