Mayweather-Pacquiao: Dud of the Century

May 3, 2015 in Best Of, Boxing, Sport

Manny Pacquiao failed to deliver two promises on Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The first was that he would hand Floyd “Money” Mayweather his first defeat in 48 professional fights. The second was that he would give fans an exciting fight. While he could blame Mayweather for failing the first promise, Pacquiao was just as much to blame for the second. And so after five years of speculation, close calls, failed negotiations, name-calling, lawsuits and serendipitous meetings at Miami Heat basketball games, the so-called Fight of the Century turned out to be one huge stinking dud.

Before the Fight

The atmosphere before the fight lived up to the hype. Just about all the biggest names in sports and entertainment were there (see this link for a full list with pictures), either due to their connections (ie, Floyd’s buddy Justin Bieber, Showtime stars like Claire Danes, boxing royalty like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, or sponsor-related celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s there to promote his new boxing flick Southpaw) or their huge wallets capable of paying the exorbitant ticket prices (Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Andre Agassi, etc). It was the richest gate in sports history (ticket sales alone generated US$74 million), with even the shittiest ticket in the nosebleeds section costing just under US$3,000 according to StubHub.

The PPV numbers are not yet available, but they are expected to blow away the record of 2.48 million buys from the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight in 2007. The actual money amount will be astronomical, considering PPV prices are also significantly higher than for other bouts, with people paying US$90 for the fight (and US$100 for it in HD) in the United States and slightly cheaper prices in most other places on the planet (only a handful of countries such as Mexico, China and the Philippines aired it for free).

PPV

The demand was so high that the start time of the actual main event was delayed by approximately 45 minutes due to troubles encountered by people trying to order the PPV from their providers.

I was rooting for the Filipino and predicted a Pacquiao victory not just because he apparently possessed all the tools on paper to give Mayweather trouble (southpaw, speed, power, footwork, stamina, high work rate, awkward angles), but also because the American seemed to be genuinely spooked by the occasion. Mayweather appeared nervous at all the public events and even told reporters he no longer had the passion for the sport and was looking forward to retiring after one final fight in September.

He was uncharacteristically polite and passive, a far cry from his old ways of trash talking and acting brash and disrespectful towards opponents, and he continued to be plagued by reports that dredged up his history of domestic violence. It seemed like Pacquiao, who acted relaxed and confident throughout the promotion, had won the psychological battle, and I felt the Mayweather camp was rattled judging from the last minute reports claiming that it had tried — unsuccessfully — to block Pacquiao from using his commission-approved gloves for the fight. It also didn’t help that reports surfaced today alleging that Mayweather attempted to block certain female journalists who harped on his domestic abuse charges.

Pacquiao also appeared to land the first blow — figuratively speaking — when he entered the ring smiling and with plenty of confidence as his coach Freddie Roach snapped a selfie on his phone. He even allowed talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to take an unsubtle jab at Justin Bieber, who is part of Mayweather’s entourage and infamously crashed the introductory press conference a couple of months ago.

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Jimmy Kimmel joins Manny Pacquiao’s ring entrance entourage on May 2

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Justin Bieber pops out of nowhere during the kick-off conference in March

The Fight

Everything I said above may have been true, but none of it mattered once the two fighters got into the ring. I hate to break it to those still in denial, but the fight wasn’t close. You can hate on Floyd Mayweather Jr all your want, but you can’t deny his skills. Tonight, Mayweather proved he was the best boxer of his generation. Five years ago, who knows what the outcome would have been, but all that matters is what actually happened. For the record, I believe the outcome would have been the same because Mayweather’s just that much better and his physical advantages are too difficult to overcome.

Freddie Roach claimed that he had the perfect game plan — one he had been honing and perfecting over the past five years — and that Pacquiao was probably going to win every round. Well, it became clear after round one that Pacquiao had an uphill climb ahead of him. The Filipino needed to get off to a good start and probably should have rushed Mayweather from the opening bell to assert himself, but instead he was overly passive and spent too long posturing and feinting. Mayweather won the first three rounds, or at least two of the first three, with his accuracy, counterpunching, and ability to dictate of the pace.

Pacquiao had his moments in the next three rounds, but only when he managed to trap Mayweather against the ropes so he could launch his patented flurries. Most of the heavy blows, however, were either blocked or deflected. In terms of jabs and single shots in the middle of the ring, however, Mayweather dominated. It was simply a master class in how to control distance and range. Mayweather perfected using his 5-inch reach advantage to keep Pacquiao at bay, and clinching or arm-locking whenever Pacquiao got too close. Having referee Kenny Bayless, who typically allows Mayweather to get away with a certain amount of holding, didn’t help matters. It was frustrating and boring, but it was a brilliant strategy.

Before the fight, I thought Pacquiao had a decent chance because of his volume punching. I believed if he kept punching and overwhelmed Mayweather’s output he would be favoured by the judges. But against Mayweather, his punch rate suddenly came crashing down. It’s not an anomaly because it’s happened to every volume puncher Mayweather has ever faced. It goes back to Mayweather’s ability to control range, because Pacquiao knows there’s no point in throwing punches that have no chance of landing. It also says something about Mayweather’s underrated power. If those counterpunches didn’t sting, Pacquiao wouldn’t have grown so reluctant in coming forward. He knew he couldn’t be reckless and try to walk through Mayweather’s punches in order to land his own because he knew those shots could hurt him.

Mayweather’s not the same type of counterpuncher as Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who gave Pacquiao fits in their four fights and brutally knocked him out in their last matchup. JMM takes huge risks and gambles on his counters, which is why Pacquiao’s had success against him too, but Mayweather is a counterpuncher who plays it safe because he can.

The result was as one-sided as many of Mayweather’s other fights. 118-110 one one scorecard and a generous 116-112 on two others for a unanimous Mayweather victory. I had it 117-111 on my sloppy unofficial scorecard. Here’s how the judges scored each round.

mayweather pacquiao official scorecard

Anyone claiming that Pacquiao won — including himself — or that it was a close fight is deluding themselves. Your eyes or heart may deceive you, but the stats don’t lie. Compubox is not a perfect science, but in this case it’s an accurate indication of what took place.

floydpac compubox

Mayweather landed 67 more punches than Pacquiao at 15% more accuracy. The most startling stat is that Mayweather ended up throwing more punches than Pacquiao did overall. In a fight where just about everyone thought Pacquiao would need to throw 800 punches to win, he ended up throwing barely half that. Full credit to Mayweather for turning the usually tornado-like Pacquiao into just another fighter who thought he could outbox the master.

I mistakenly predicted a Pacquiao victory partly because big boxing matches usually turn out to be unpredictable, but the it ended up being one of those rare fights where everything pretty much went according to how fight experts predicted it could go. Pacquiao would have his moments early, when his best chances were available, but Mayweather would eventually figure it out — as he always does — and dominate the rest of the way. The only thing unexpected was that Pacquiao would be so passive to start the fight and allow Mayweather to claim those precious early rounds.

Unfortunately, Mayweather’s dominance — and Pacquiao’s reluctance — turned the Fight of the Century into a total bore. Brilliant performance? Sure. Exciting? Hell no. I can appreciate technical skills better than most, but for a fight of this magnitude the fans deserved more. A lot more.

Boos rained down on Mayweather when he proclaimed victory at the end of the fight and when they announced the decision, and while some of them were aimed at him as a person, I believe a lot of them were directed at the way he turned the fight into a snoozefest. There was no genuine action, no serious exchanges, nothing close to resembling a knockdown, and no one was ever in serious trouble or hurt from a big shot. Mayweather danced around, held, and ran some more, not just avoiding action but actively preventing it from happening. There may have been some natural tension early on, but even that evaporated as Mayweather’s tactics became a predictable pattern.

Mayweather deserves the bulk of the blame because that’s his style, but the typically exciting Pacquiao isn’t fault-free either. Perhaps it was his brutal KO loss to JMM a couple of years ago that made him so wary, but when the fight was clearly getting away he didn’t exactly go for broke either. With US$100 million-plus heading into his bank, Pacquiao probably decided it wasn’t worth risking his health for glory. I would have much rather seen him get knocked out trying to score the knockout himself rather than trying to feint Mayweather to death. And that’s what 80%-90% of the fight was: feinting and posturing. It was a chess match that was more boring than watching actual chess matches.

After the Fight

Everyone was disappointed. “Underwhelmed” was an extremely popular word on Twitter. I may have rooted for Pacquiao but the thing I wanted above all was an exciting fight that would come at least 70% to meeting expectations. This fight was about a 15%.

There were the Pactards and blind boxing novices claiming that Pacquiao had been robbed, that the sport is corrupt, etc, with some even going as far as slamming ESPN’s post-fight interviewer Max Kellerman for daring to press Pacquiao about how he could have possibly thought he won. Can you imagine the same thing happening if Mayweather was in Pacquiao’s position? Not hating, just pointing out the hypocrisy.

The internets was flooded with the same arguments Mayweather has faced for years — that he ran like a coward and didn’t dare to exchange in a real fight, like a real man. But that’s where his genius and understanding of the rules of boxing come into play. Do you think his career would have lasted as long as it has if he decided to go toe-to-toe with every foe? Do you think there would be as many people hoping that he would get knocked out every time he stepped into the ring?

The biggest flaw with the running argument, at least in this fight, is that Mayweather was actually more active than Pacquiao. Forget that he landed nearly twice as many punches. He actually threw more punches than Pacquiao. If he simply ran, how could he have won? It wasn’t as though the judges awarded Mayweather for evading Pacquiao’s punches. He landed a lot more at greater accuracy in almost every round. End of story.

That did not stop the excuses from rolling in immediately after the verdict. The Pacquiao camp revealed that the Filipino fought with a tear in his shoulder and that he was denied an anti-inflammatory shot before the fight. Not to be outdone, Mayweather claimed that both his arms and hands were injured either prior to or during the fight.

My Facebook feed became flooded with articles slamming Mayweather’s character and his woman-beating tendencies, and claims that he will never be respected no matter how many Manny Pacquiaos he beats. I suppose it comes with the territory of having been a complete prick for so many years, but even I felt all the media attacks in the aftermath of a career-defining victory were below the belt.

I haven’t had a chance to watch the fight again and I’m not sure I want to put myself through the pain for a second time. Big fights often disappoint; I can think of a few I was really amped up for that failed to meet expectations, but none were as disappointing as Mayweather-Pacquiao. Accordingly, my final impression of the fight will likely be Mayweather’s best blow of the fight — when he thanked God first in his post-fight interview. As someone irked by Pacquiao’s repeated “God will deliver him into my hands” remarks before the fight– no offense intended to any of my lovely Christian friends — I kinda liked that final insult to cap off all the stinging right hands and counters he fed Pacquiao all night.

Where to Now

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Mayweather insists he will fight just once more, this September, before riding off into the sunset for good. He seems genuine about this, and I believe he will carry through with the promise unless he desperately needs money again in the future — which is quite likely if you’ve heard the stories about his spending habits. Potential opponents include American young gun Keith Thurman, a 26-year-old heavy-handed fighter also with an unblemished unbeaten record (25 wins, 21KOs and 1 no contest — from an accidental headbutt in the first round), as well as Brit Amir Khan, who has a glass jaw but the height (5’9″), reach (71″), speed and boxing skills to potentially give Mayweather trouble on paper. Personally, I’d like to see him take on both guys to erase all doubts and retire at 50-0, breaking Rocky Marciano’s celebrated record.

As for Pacquiao, he said he’ll take a break and leave the rest to his promoter Bob Arum. To be honest, this loss doesn’t affect his legacy all that much. He lost to a better boxer on the night, not because he’s over the hill or a shot fighter. He’s still loved in the Philippines, where he’ll probably become president one day, and people still love to watch him fight. Against the right opponents there’s no reason why he won’t still be a massive PPV draw.

Roach and Pacquiao said they would like to push for a rematch in light of the shoulder injury revelation. There’s no rematch clause in the contract, but considering how much money the two will make (estimates for Mayweather are as high as US$180 million), the temptation must be there to do it all over again. Given how one-sided this fight turned out to be — and especially seeing that Pacquiao no longer has one-punch knockout power to give himself a puncher’s chance — it’s not something I want to see.

PS: The most exciting fight of the night was actually on the undercard. Vasyl Lomachenko, Ukranian amateur star, proved once again that he’s going to be the next P4P best fighter on the planet with his impressive destruction of the game but outgunned Gamalier Rodriguez. It was just Lomachenko’s fifth professional fight and the featherweight displayed an offensive aggression reminiscent of the Pacquiao of old and the technical brilliance and precision of Mayweather. Check out the highlights from that fight.

At last, Mayweather-Pacquiao: Who Will Win?

February 22, 2015 in Best Of, Boxing, Sport

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About six years ago, I jumped the shark like everyone else and thought the fight of the millennium between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao was going to happen. We all know how things turned out that time, and the time after, and the time after that. And so I was not holding my breath amid recent renewed speculation after Pacquiao knocked down outgunned challenger Chris Algieri six times in November en route to a shutout victory. But at last, the word — which came from Mayweather via his stupid app — is official: the fight is happening. No more false starts. No more childish posturing. No more excuses. May 2, MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Lock it in.

You can read all about the excruciating details of the negotiations and how it’s going to smash every boxing revenue record ever — elsewhere.

In short, it’s going to be a joint PPV by HBO (who has the rights to Pacquiao) and Showtime (who has the rights to Mayweather), the first since Mike Tyson took on Lennox Lewis in 2002. Mayweather dictated the terms and Pacquiao basically agreed to everything, including a 60-40 split in Money’s favour, the date, the venue, the gloves, who will enter the ring last (Pacquiao), and even the order of the names of the promotion (“Mayweather-Pacquiao”).

The random blood testing for performance enhancing drugs, which broke down negotiations the first time, has been agreed to, with Pacquiao claiming that he insisted anyone failing a drug test must pay the other party US$5 million. Analysts estimate that Mayweather will take home around US$150 million, while Pacquiao will come away with US$100 million.

Thanks to everyone involved in making it happen, I will now finally get to explore something just about everyone has had an opinion on for six years: who will win?

Who’s the favourite?

For the record, Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) is a strong 70-30 betting favourite at the moment, and there’s a very good reason why. He has never been defeated in 47 fights against 45 opponents (he fought Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana twice each). The defensive maestro has never been seriously in danger of losing a fight, having only been rocked a handful of times (he was “buzzed” by DeMarcus Corley back in 2004 and had his legs momentarily turned into jelly by Shame Mosley in 2010), though to his credit he always found a way to hang on and adjust his way to victory. He’s never even been officially knocked down (though he his glove definitely touched the canvas when Zab Judah hit him with a good shot in 2006).

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), on the other hand, has been knocked out three times overall and lost two consecutive fights in 2012 — a controversial split decision against Tim Bradley (since avenged) and a one-punch KO loss against nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez — before reeling off unanimous decision victories in his last three.

Both guys have slowed down at slight but noticeable levels. Mayweather will be 38 later this month, while Pacquiao turned 36 at the end of last year. Mayweather’s last KO came against Victor Ortiz in 2011, but that wasn’t a legit knockout because Ortiz was too busy looking in the wrong direction after becoming embarrassed by a blatant headbutt. Money’s last genuine KO actually dates further back to 2007 against Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao hasn’t had a KO since Miguel Cotto in 2009, the last in a streak of four consecutive stoppages.

Tale of the Tape

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Common opponents

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Styles make fights, and there’s no styles better matched than that of Mayweather and Pacquiao. One is a defensive specialist with once-in-a-generation reflexes, a supreme counterpuncher who knows how to adjust to any opponent and pick his spots offensively to frustrate anyone he’s ever faced. The other is the most exciting boxer-puncher of his era, a relentless offensive tornado with endless energy and destructive power in both hands who can throw accurate multipunch combinations in the blink of an eye from awkward angles.

While we won’t really know how the matchup will play out until May 2, there are a few relatively objective facts that can help us assess what could happen. For starters, we know that despite being the naturally bigger man, Mayweather will unlikely press the offense, though it remains to be seen whether he will allow Pacquiao to stalk him around the ring because he’s shown more willingness to go toe-to-toe in recent years (Maidana, Cotto, etc).

Here’s how I think the individual attributes of the fighters stack up:

matchup

Why Mayweather will win

There are some people out there who believe Pacquiao will be an “easy” fight for Mayweather.

First of all, Mayweather is naturally bigger and has a five-inch reach advantage. He’s a technically superior boxer. He has the defensive moves to neutralize Pacquiao’s punching power and aggression, and he’s also just as fast. Most of all, he’s a supreme counterpuncher, and we know Pacquiao struggles with counterpunchers. The argument is: if Pacquiao struggles so mightily against Marquez, who could barely win a single round against Mayweather, just imagine what Mayweather will do to Pacquiao!

The scenario that would unfold if the above turns out to be true would see Mayweather taking two or three competitive or even losing rounds to feel out Pacquiao before adjusting and dominating the rest of the fight. He would continuously beat Pacquiao to the punch with accurate right hands and pot shots to the stomach, shoot off sharp counterpunches, jump out of harms way before Pacquiao could set his feet to launch combinations, and use the shoulder roll to deflect punches that do land. He’d frustrate Pacquiao to no end and dance his way to a dominant unanimous decision. Mayweather would be too cautious to go after a knockout, but if Pacquiao gets careless or too reckless like he did with Marquez, there’s a good chance Mayweather might knock him out.

Why Pacquiao will win

Those who believe Pacquiao will end Mayweather’s unbeaten record are convinced that the Filipino has all the tools necessary to give the American trouble, especially now that Money has shown more willingness to stand his ground and engage.

Mayweather is said to have trouble with southpaws — Corley, Judah, etc — because the shoulder roll is designed for orthodox fighters, and Pacquiao will be the most dangerous southpaw he will ever face. Mayweather apparently hates southpaws so much that his father asked Top Rank (when he was promoted by them) not to match his son against a left handed fighter.

Pacquiao will be the fastest guy Mayweather has ever faced. He will probably be the most experienced fighter Mayweather has ever faced. He is the probably most relentless puncher Mayweather has ever faced — and with the power to hurt him. He will throw the most combinations Mayweather has ever seen. He has a Hall of Fame trainer who has studied Mayweather for the past six years while trying to come up with the perfect game plan. And unlike so many other guys Mayweather has faced, Pacquiao won’t run out of gas. This won’t be like Judah, who faded after a fast start. It won’t be like Cotto, who had the right attitude and power but not the speed or combination punching. And it won’t be like Maidana, who applied the necessary constant pressure but not the skill or ability. For the first time in his career, Mayweather will be facing someone who combines all the attributes — at least on paper — required to beat him.

The scenario for a Pacquiao victory would see him attack Mayweather from the opening bell, peppering him with non-stop combinations and lightning-quick power punches from all sorts of angles. Mayweather would block a lot of the shots, but not all of them, and his tendency to conserve his energy on offense will work against him with the judges. As the fight goes on, Pacquiao will wear down Mayweather, who doesn’t possess the requisite work rate to win rounds consistently or hold the power to turn things around with a single punch. In the end, Pacquiao will either knock out a weary Mayweather or batter him around the ring en route to a decision victory.

Verdict

Six years ago, I believed Manny Pacquiao would hand Floyd Mayweather his first defeat. Mayweather’s reluctance to throw punches, coupled with Pacquiao’s devastating power and tendency to throw a lot of punches every round, suggested to me that Pacquiao would simply overwhelm Mayweather with quantity over quality in capturing a close but comfortable decision win.

Six years later, it seems to me that Pacquiao no longer as the power to knock Mayweather out. He is also more susceptible to getting hurt after that brutal KO at the hands of Marquez, and is perhaps now less willing to take the risks he needs to pressure his opponent in every moment of every round.

Mayweather also seems to have lost a step and doesn’t have the wheels he used to have, meaning Pacquiao won’t have to chase him around as much. And can he get out of corners quick enough to avoid Pacquiao’s combination punching?

The beauty of boxing is that no one knows what will happen. For all those claiming they know what will transpire when these two men step into the ring — and will no doubt gloat if they turn out to be right — even the most educated guess is just a guess. And so my guess is that Pacman will have Money’s number on May 2, for the reasons above, but also for the reasons below.

While Mayweather deserves to be the favourite, it feels almost fated that his first — and possibly only — loss will come at the hands of Pacquiao. Despite all the talk of Pacquiao’s KO loss to Marquez and whether Mayweather has waited until Pacquiao has lost enough of his natural speed and power to take him on, it appears to me that perhaps Mayweather has slowed down even more based on his last few fights.

My prediction goes beyond simply that hunch though, as I also genuine believe that Pacquiao has a psychological edge. “Scared” is perhaps too strong a word, but there is no denying that Mayweather has been super wary of Pacquiao since the latter beat De la Hoya and flattened Hatton all those years ago. If he were so confident against Pacquiao back then he would have taken the fight head on, rather than impose — however reasonable they are — the strict drug testing protocols that weren’t around at the time. And bear in mind, Pacquiao did not flat out reject random blood testing — he just wanted there to be a cut-off date. Further, Mayweather was forced to settle Pacquiao’s defamation suit against him for the doping allegations, suggesting he has nothing concrete;plus Pacquiao agreed to Olympic-style drug testing in the subsequent negotiations years ago. To say Floyd didn’t want to fight Pacquiao just because he suspected his opponent was doping is missing the bigger picture.

Wanting to stick it to his hated ex-promoter Bob Arum seems like a more suitable reason, but even that becomes an excuse when hundreds of millions and your entire legacy are on the table. There’s a prevalent school of thought that Floyd only accepted this fight because he was being boxed into a corner. His PPV sales are down. People are not just asking — they’re demanding that he fight Pacquiao wherever he goes. Everyone’s saying his legacy will be tainted if he doesn’t fight Pacquiao and fight him right now.

Further, the nonchalant attitude he displayed towards the negotiations suggests to me that he doesn’t really want this fight. Pacquiao’s side was admittedly desperate in trying to push things along, but Mayweather appeared to be stalling at every possible turn. First it was the unreasonable demand that the PPV be on Showtime only, then it had to be the May 2 date in Las Vegas, then it was the 60-40, the gloves, and the rest. But this time, being the weaker negotiating side, Pacquiao simply agreed to everything. And when the networks said they would work things out for a joint PPV, the writing was on the wall. Even then, Mayweather was still caught up on the petty little stuff like ensuring that he’d be the one to announce the fight, and getting mad when Pacquiao’s side was leaking info after the contracts had been signed for a couple of days. That doesn’t sound like someone truly focused on the fight to me.

Of course, none of that will matter if Mayweather is simply better than Pacquaio. What makes this fight so intriguing is that an argument can be made that Pacquiao is custom-built to defeat Mayweather but also that Mayweather is custom-built to give Pacquiao fits. No matter which theory is correct, I’m banking on a great fight. Pacquiao won’t allow it to be boring. Mayweather seems to be the first opponent the ordinarily want-to-be-friends-with-everyone Pacquiao genuinely wants to punish in the ring. Mayweather has also shown that he can rise to the occasion in the face of adversity, and he knows what a dominant performance here will do for his legacy.

At this point, I don’t really care what happens. I just can’t wait to see it all go down.

Fight Prediction: Mayweather vs Ortiz

September 14, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

On September 17 in Las Vegas, undefeated 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr (41-0,  25KOs) will return from a 16-month lay off take on 24-year-old southpaw brawler Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KOs) for Ortiz’s WBC Welterweight belt.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Floyd Mayweather Jr is entertaining.  Some would say more out of the ring than in it, though true fans of the sport can’t help but be in awe of his phenomenal ability.  And sure, Mayweather is not fighting the man everyone wants him to fight, Manny Pacquiao, but Victor Ortiz does make a very interesting ‘tune up’ for the Pacman — if the megafight is to finally take place next year as recent reports would suggest.

In the meantime, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ortiz is a dangerous young opponent coming off a career reviving win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April 2011 — his most satisfying win since being stopped by Marcos Maidana in 2009 where many believed a badly cut Ortiz had quit against his heavy-hitting opponent.  But does he stand a chance against someone in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Personally, I’m kind of torn here.  I’d love to see someone knock Mayweather off his pedestal, but at the same time that could spell the end of Mayweather-Pacquiao — and after all these years of waiting, that would be a monumental disappointment.

That said, the probability of Ortiz pulling off the upset is incredibly slim.  On paper, at least, or if you’ve ever watched the two men in action, Mayweather should punish Ortiz and give him a boxing lesson all night long.  Mayweather is simply too skilled, too slick, too fast, too experienced, and too defensively sound for someone as raw as Ortiz.  On top of that, Mayweather seldom gets hit flush, and when he does, he has survived and come back stronger.  His ability to adjust mid-fight is second to none.

But as the saying goes, anything can happen in boxing, and Ortiz at least appears to have the weapons and temperament to trouble Mayweather, whose form after 16 months off could potentially be a little off.

First of all, Ortiz is 10 years younger than Mayweather and, judging from his last fight, is in the form and shape of his life.  He’s like a caged animal that has been released after years in captivity and has this fearless attitude about him, like he just wants to tear through everyone in front of him.  His motivation and determination is through the roof right now.

Secondly, Ortiz is physically stronger than Mayweather and visibly bigger.  At 5’9″ he is an inch taller and has arms like tree trunks.  His thick body is also built like a brick house.  His punches can do serious damage and it looks like he’ll be able to take a punch much better than he used to.

Thirdly, Ortiz may not be as fast as Mayweather but he does have decent speed.  I’m not sure if it’s enough to bother Mayweather but it could be a significant factor in the fight if Mayweather underestimates it.

Fourthly, Ortiz is a southpaw, and we’ve all heard about Floyd’s troubles with southpaws throughout the years (Corley, Judah, etc).  The conventional response to that assertion is that Floyd has beaten every southpaw he has faced, but it must give Ortiz encouragement that Floyd has more difficulty with southpaws than orthodox fighters, primarily because his celebrated shoulder roll technique doesn’t work as well against southpaws.  It has to count for something, right?

Another thing Floyd is said to have problems with is a strong, stiff jab, which Ortiz also has.  He just has to learn to utilise it consistently throughout the fight.

On the flip side, Mayweather has not fought for 16 months, not since his May 2010 fight against Sugar Shane Mosley which he dominated after a major scare in round 2 where Mosley rocked him with a couple of big right hands.  Before that, Mayweather dominated Pacquiao’s next opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez, in September 2009.  And before that, a KO against Ricky Hatton in December 2007.  That’s three opponents in 45 months!  Yes, Mayweather won all those fights, but the inactivity, combined with his age (34) could come back to bite him in a hurry.

Mayweather also has brittle hands and hasn’t shown genuine KO power for quite some time, which could allow Ortiz to walk through some punches in order to land his own.  And if he does, will Mayweather be able to withstand the onslaught?  As the fight against Mosley suggested, if a big power shot lands in the right place, Mayweather can be hurt.

Lastly, there’s the distractions.  We all know about the Mayweather family’s legal troubles, and now the first episode of the Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7 series (one of the best yet, by the way) has revealed another rift between father and son.  Junior insists it doesn’t bother him at all, but his face suggests a different story.

Do all of these things add up to an upset in the cards?  Possible, but unlikely.  I’d put Ortiz’s chances of pulling off the improbable win at around 10-15%, and he’ll most probably have to do it via a stunning knockout.  He’ll have to be aggressive but patient, use that stiff jab of his to control the pace and pounce on Mayweather and not give him a chance to dictate.  If Ortiz goes in looking to brawl his way to a win he’ll become the perfect target for Mayweather’s counters.  If he remains disciplined and uses controlled aggression he could shock the world.

The more likely scenario is one where Ortiz comes out with guns blazing, takes it to Mayweather in the first couple of rounds, maybe even win them…before Mayweather figures out Ortiz’s style and schools him the rest of the way en route to a clear unanimous victory or even a late round KO.  I am still suspicious of Mayweather’s power at this stage of his career so I am going to predict a comfortable Mayweather UD.

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Mayweather to take on Ortiz; Pacquiao tune-up?

June 8, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Just when I thought we’d never see him in the boxing ring again, Floyd Mayweather Jr has suddenly announced that he will take on WBC Welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz on 17 September 2011.

Bogged down by various legal dramas, the last thing I expected was for Mayweather to declare that he was ready to step back in the ring.  He hasn’t fought since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, meaning it will be a 16 month lay off for him.

Two ways to look at this.  The first is that Mayweather is needs money but doesn’t want to take on the man everyone wants to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.

(I won’t go into the history of it all, but essentially negotiations between the two fighters have broken down twice already over additional drug testing procedures, and may or may not have broken down a third or fourth time according to Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum when Mayweather allegedly tried to price himself out by asking for $100 million.  Mayweather’s camp denied further negotiations ever took place, though third parties contradict this denial.  There is also the additional issue of Pacquiao suing Mayweather and his family for defamation for suggesting that Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drugs.)

Mayweather’s decision to take on Ortiz is a curious one because Arum has stated all along that if Mayweather comes to the table, he will be Pacquiao’s number one choice.  No one else matters.  This means that if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao all he had to do was pick up the phone after Pacquiao’s win over Mosley last month, and the fight would have been made already.

Instead, Mayweather waited until Pacquiao signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time on 12 November 2011 before announcing a fight of his own.

More interestingly, Mayweather has refused to fight Pacquiao allegedly because of completely unsubstantiated PED accusations, and yet the man he has chosen to fight, Victor Ortiz, was recently implicated in PEDs by the man he had just beaten, Andre Berto.  Of course, Berto’s assertions were also completely unsubstantiated, but if his suspicions of Pacquiao were sufficient to destroy the megafight, then why not Ortiz too?

The second and more optimistic view is that Mayweather is taking on Ortiz as a tune up for Manny Pacquiao in 2012.  Mayweather undoubtedly will want to shake off some rust after the long lay off, and Ortiz just happens to be a young, strong stud AND a southpaw, something which Pacquiao is also.

I sure hope the second view is the right one and the potentially biggest fight of all time will happen next year!

The Matchup

Apart from Pacquiao, everyone just assumes that Mayweather will win no matter who he fights.  But Ortiz is a dangerous opponent, coming off a solid but close decision win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April.  He has a strong 29-2-2 (22KOs) record and as mentioned above, is a southpaw, and Mayweather has tended to struggle more against southpaws.

Furthermore, Mayweather is now 34 years old and might be slowing down.  We won’t really know for sure until we see him in the ring, given how long it’s been, but it is possible.  On the other hand, Ortiz is just 24 and appears to have hit his prime after the brutal battle against Berto.

I’d still say the risks are low because of the experience and skill factors, but just like Marquez has a chance of unseating Pacquiao, Ortiz could also shock the world against Mayweather.  For the sake of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening next year, I hope both men can win.

PS: I mentioned in an earlier post the Marquez was to take on David Diaz as a tune up before Pacquiao, but this fight has fallen through because of financial considerations.

Who Should Pacquiao Fight Next: Mosley, Marquez or Berto?

December 16, 2010 in Boxing

Who will Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach take on next?

Pound-for-pound champ Manny Pacquiao has announced that his next fight will be on 7 May 2011.  With Floyd Mayweather Jr most likely looking to fight guys trying to ‘American History X’ his ass in the prison showers (if convicted of abusing his ex-girlfriend and children), Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has narrowed Pacquiao’s next opponent down to three guys: Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Andre Berto.

That’s it.  These three, and no one else.  So don’t think about any other fantasy fights (eg Sergio Martinez) because they’re not going to happen on 7 May.  Arum has presented three term sheets (one for each potential opponent) to Pacquiao and it will ultimately be Pacquiao’s choice.  It’s been reported that an decision will likely be made by Friday US time.

Let’s break down each of these opponents, what they bring to the table, and how likely the fight will eventuate.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

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