Billed as the fight of the Century, two of the greatest pound for pound fighters of the modern era will finally meet in the squared circle on May 2nd. American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Philippine hero Manny Pacquiao will face off in a mega fight taking place at the infamous home of big time boxing at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the WBC, WBO and WBA Super world welterweight titles on the line.
He isn’t the quickest fighter or the strongest. He doesn’t hit the hardest or throw the most punches, yet he is still the best pound for pound fighter on the planet at the moment. Floyd’s ability to adapt separates him from the pack, his ability to adapt so effectively not only in preparation for each opponent but often even during the course of a fight is unparalleled amongst modern day fighters.
We have seen it against the likes of ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and Zab Judah who both enjoyed some early success against him landing hurtful shots. However those moments in both fights proved to be fleeting as Mayweather resumed full control soon after.
The 38-year old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has the advantages in height and reach going into this bout. Combine that with his natural speed and it is going to be tough for his opponent to land effectively or consistently. Mayweather uses his shoulders, elbows and arms in a defensive armoury that has been heralded as unbreachable at times, before countering with sharp and accurate shots.
He has developed a defensive armoury that has been heralded as virtually unbreachable through repetition, repetition and repetition of defensive combinations over decades spent on the pads with Floyd Mayweather Senior and his Uncle Roger Mayweather. His defensive skills are so masterful they have been built into his subconscious. His limbs may be aging but they are ready to react autonomously within split seconds of a trigger.
To beat Mayweather’s seemingly impenetrable defence you would have to be a fighter with; incredible speed, knockout power, a feline agility and possess the ability to throw fast combinations from all sorts of different angles. Remind you of anyone? Well if there is one fighter out there who has all of those attributes it is Manny Pacquiao.
Add in the fact that he is a southpaw and it’s not hard to see why people are backing ‘Pac Man’ to take Mayweather’s ‘0’. With the exception of Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao has not just beaten some class fighters in his career, he has ripped through them including the likes of Hatton, De La Hoya and Cotto.
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has made no secret of his plan to implement a high pressure, high intensity game plan. Roach trained Oscar De La Hoya against Mayweather back in 2007 when the ‘Golden Boy’ lost via way of a split decision. Whilst De La Hoya lost the fight no fighter has since come as close to defeating ‘Money’ and it’s often said that he laid the blueprint for how to beat him.
However, whilst acknowledging that a high pressure game plan is needed, many fighters fall into the same trap of pressuring by walking him down but then they are unable to let their shots go and get picked off. This is because Mayweather’s power is often underestimated but he obviously has enough power to make fighters think twice about letting their shots go when coming at him.
If Pacquiao’s intensity drops off for a minute or his focus becomes altered to thinking about avoiding Floyd’s counter shots all the time then he could be drawn into a chess match against a grandmaster. It seems that Pacquiao has to be prepared and able to take some hurtful pot-shots to get into the position to let rip on the ropes.
Pacquiao will come out like a train and will pose a huge threat in the first half of the fight. However as long as age doesn’t catch up with him, Mayweather will be trying to neutralise him over the rounds and take away the assets of his rival as he slows ever so slightly over the distance.
This fight is likely to go the distance and could well be a close split decision points victory for Floyd Mayweather. There is a fair chance of Pacquiao taking a few of the early rounds and also rallying strong in the last couple. However, I can see Floyd Mayweather seizing control and landing more effectively with more accuracy in the mid/mid to late rounds. At the MGM with American judges Mayweather will almost certainly be given the benefit of the doubt on the scorecards if it is a close fight which also gives him the edge.