For those expecting a fight for the ages, it only took one, clean counter right from Mayweather at the beginning of the first round for Pacquiao to be reminded of what happened to him at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2012. Consequently, Pacquiao looked tentative thereafter and seemed reluctant to fully commit to his attacks. For example, there was a moment in round four where, having countered Floyd’s jab with a nice “split-entry” straight left before getting off some combinations along the ropes, he unfathomably backed away, allowing Mayweather to return to center ring and gather his senses. While it was important for Pacquiao not to smother his work and punch himself out, he was too relenting here.
Mayweather wasn’t on the front foot as much as I expected him to be, especially later on in the fight, and this was always going to be a problem for Manny, who, as I’ve said on numerous occasions in the past, isn’t at his best when cutting off the ring and applying pressure. There were simply far too many instances when Pacquiao should have been stepping to his right and throwing the hook in order to keep Mayweather contained and from circling out to his left. Of course, the story that came out immediately after the fight regarding Pacquiao’s injured right shoulder may have played a part in this.
In hindsight, though, the warning signs were there for all to see against an inferior Chris Algieri. All those knockdowns may have obliterated any competitiveness on the scorecards, but Pacquiao often failed to block off Algieri’s escape routes and evade his right-handed attacks.
Pacquiao had some success targeting Mayweather’s body with his straight left, and when using it to counter the jab before skipping out to his right, but the Filipino appeared to lack direction and was unable to sustain his attack. Just when Pacquiao seemed to be building momentum, Mayweather would clip him with a well-timed lead or counter, which stopped Pacquiao dead in his tracks and prevented him from coming forward with impunity. The fact that the volume-puncher was essentially out-worked by the counter-puncher pretty much tells you all you need to know. (According to CompuBox, Mayweather outlanded Pacquiao 148 to 81 and even threw more punches, 435 to 429.)
Mayweather’s jab, straight right to both head and body, check left hook while sliding out the back door, and sweeping right hand which arced around Pacquiao’s guard, were the American’s most fruitful offensive weapons, and resulted in him producing the cleaner, more effective work throughout. In the end, I scored the fight 116-112 for the undefeated champion. Mayweather could possibly have had a point deducted for excessive holding (referee Kenny Bayless continually warned him for pulling down on Pacquiao’s head but failed to follow up with a point deduction) which would have then made my scorecard 115-112 for Floyd.
Mayweather might not set the world on fire with his boxing style, but his distance management really is second to none. With precise, calculated footwork, Mayweather has perfected the art of being in the right place at the right time: either just far enough away not to be hit, or too close to be hit effectively. And this, along with his superior physicality and timing, is what enabled him to get the job done on the biggest night of his career against his most dangerous challenger. — Lee Wylie