By: Marcus (Mook) Washington
Back in 2007, Mayweather vs Dela Hoya was built up as the fight that was going to save boxing. Fast forward to 2015 and boxing is in a place where it doesn’t need saving. Boxing has embraced the fact that it is an ‘event’ sport and has branched out to network TV, in large part, thanks to Al Haymon and Premier Boxing.
So, with that, the sport heads into its biggest fight since 2007 as Floyd Mayweather Jr. squares off against Manny Pacquiao. Boxing fans have waited 5 years for this fight and most casual fans want to see action over skill. Luckily, for them, both Mayweather and Pacquiao will give you plenty of both.
Just like in 2007, Floyd needs to win a lot more than his opponent. There’s a lot of money in being hated like Mayweather but there is also a downside. What happens when you lose? Floyd makes no money in marketing because of his out of the ring problems and his brash persona. A loss for him would be devastating to his earning potential.
On the other hand, Manny is loved by the entire country of the Philippines. His easy going nature and exciting style in the ring makes him more marketable outside the ring and more likeable inside the ring. A loss wouldn’t set Pacquiao back in terms of marketability and would have very little impact on his future purse percentage.
So Saturday night will pit two guys fighting for a place in history but only Mayweather will be fighting for his career.
Keys for Pacquiao
Head Movement – Despite getting knocked out by Marquez, we have seen more head movement out of Pacquiao. This will be a key factor in countering Floyd’s counter punching. If Pacquiao and Roach can get a rhythm on what counters Floyd will throw and when he will throw them then Manny can use angles to avoid one of Floyd’s main weapons.
Feint – This is another weapon Manny can use to get Floyd to commit and get him out of position. A feint could prematurely put Floyd in his high guard/shoulder roll posture allowing Manny to work Floyd’s body with more precision than Maidana in the first Mayweather fight. It will also allow Pacquiao to get close enough where he can unleash 3 and 4 punch combinations and get out of harm’s way before Floyd can respond.
Keep the Fight in the Middle of the Ring – Odd to recommend anyone to keep the fight in the middle of the ring against Floyd but I believe Manny’s speed and work rate gives him a decided advantage. Unlike Floyd, Manny throws punches in bunches and could possibly win rounds based on being the busier fighter. Putting Floyd’s back up against the ropes allows Mayweather to get in those sneaky body shots and uppercuts that suck the wind out of his opponents.
Stand and Fight – We’ve seen more movement out of Manny starting with his fourth fight against Marquez. Against Floyd, Manny could stand and fight more. Manny can beat Floyd to the punch and if he can get Floyd into trying to exchange with him. Manny’s power could possibly hurt Floyd and put the undefeated champ in deep waters.
Jab, Jab, Jab – I don’t care what ShoStats or Compubox says, Floyd is getting hit flush more than he ever has. Manny could score big rounds by doubling and tripling up the jab allowing him to get inside and back out in an efficient manner. Manny’s jab will need to be more than a tool to get inside, it will need to be a scoring jab to slow down Floyd’s counter punching.
Uppercut – If you watch Floyd, he tends to put himself in position where you can hit him with the uppercut but usually his opponent isn’t fast enough to get it there. Well, Manny is fast enough to have his uppercut find a home. He will have to use it wisely to avoid get countered but this is a punch that could hurt Mayweather.
Keys for Mayweather
Increase Work Rate – Floyd will need to throw more punches to win this fight. I’m a firm believer that the 50-50 rounds he usually gets will go Pacquiao’s way based on being the more active fighter. Unlike Oscar Dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton (two fights Floyd was losing early on), Manny isn’t going to get tired. This puts more pressure on Floyd to get off first earlier in the fight.
Make It Ugly – Floyd doesn’t get credit for winning physically ugly fights. Both the Hatton and Cotto fights were physical fights that Floyd won. He will have to do the same with Manny which means he must come forward and not just depend on pop shotting. If you notice in Hatton fight, Floyd got very physical when they were close. He used everything from his forearms to leaning down on Ricky to drain energy. Floyd will need to get Manny in a physical position and then impose his will.
Bunches of Punches – Floyd will need to throw combinations to keep Manny out of scoring distances. One of the reasons Manny was able to impose his will on Marquez was because Juan Manuel was in a counter punching frame of mind. Marquez was always looking to land to counter power shot. Manny could have lost all 4 fights had Marquez thrown punches in bunches. Floyd tends to do the same. Floyd will try to counter the jab with the straight right hand. Manny will not be as charitable as Floyd’s prior opponents. Floyd should be able to work Manny up and down if he lets his hands go.
Put Baby In The Corner – This is easier said than done but Floyd will need to back Manny into the ropes and keep him there in pockets. He can do this by coming forward and working off his jab and left hook especially to the body. When Marquez knocked Manny out, Pacquaio put himself in the corner trying to time him. I don’t expect to see Manny do that with Floyd. So this is where Floyd will need to use a combo of ‘bunches of punches’ and ‘make it ugly’ if he wants to get Manny in trouble.
Body Work – If Manny slows down in any fashion, you’ll see Floyd throw that wind sucking jab to the body. Mayweather loves to use it early in fights but we saw him use it brilliantly in the later rounds of the Hatton fight. It’s a punch that doesn’t look like it’s doing much but it will slow down fighters in the later rounds. The more Floyd can land this early on, the better it is for him.
Over Top – We will definitely see Floyd come over the top with that straight right hand that has frustrated so many of his opponents. It’s Floyd’s best punch when he counters. But, I would also look for Floyd to cove over the top with a left hook and that could hurt Manny especially if he doesn’t see it coming.
1) Floyd will get hurt or go down in the fight – Yes I see Manny landing enough power punches to hurt Floyd and possibly send him to the canvas. In the past, Manny has been able to get one punch knockdowns because of his speed and precision. Remember, even in the second Maidana fight, Floyd was hurt by a jab right at the end of the round.
2) Fight will not go the distance – I expect one of the guys to get stopped. This is a fight so important to both, not only to win, but to dominate. This will mean both will take chances they usually don’t take opening themselves up to getting hurt.
3) Kenny Bayless won’t play a part – Bayless is thought of as being a Floyd guy because he tends to break the fighters up early but this will not be an issue. Manny is not the type of fighter looking to rough up Floyd due to lack of skill. That’s why Roach said they have no problem with Bayless being the referee.
4) Floyd won’t win a close fight – If it is a close fight, I look for Manny to get the decision. No not because I have some type of rematch conspiracy but because perception will drive the cards and perception will say that Manny was the busier fighter who exhibited ring generalship.
5) Worth The Money – No matter how many rounds this fight goes, it will be worth the money. On the high end, it could be reminiscent of Pryor-Arguello I and on the low end it could look like Hagler-Leonard but, either way, fans won’t be cheated.