The weigh-in is behind us and so is all the hype. In roughly 24 hours, after more than five years of waiting and wondering and hoping, the match everyone in boxing wants to see will finally happen. Floyd Mayweather. Manny Pacquiao. For the unofficial title of best boxer on the planet. It’s the biggest fight, at least in terms of money, ever, and definitely one of the most anticipated in the sport’s history. So of course, those of us at The Fight City are ready to offer up our picks for a match which is already historic. Here’s hoping the contest itself lives up to all the expectations and makes all the waiting worthwhile.
Michael Carbert, Editor: The closer we get to the fight, the more difficult it is for me to understand the general consensus asserting that Floyd Mayweather is going to take Manny Pacquiao to boxing school and win a clear-cut decision. Styles, as they say, make fights and the Pacman’s southpaw stance, erratic movement, and ability to throw dangerous punches from unpredictable angles will together almost certainly create difficulties for Floyd. There’s always the chance Manny will be flat, as he was in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, and if that’s the case, Floyd may be able to impose his will and inhibit the Filipino, as Marquez did. But assuming Pacquiao comes to fight with the intensity and zeal of his best performances, Floyd is going to be hard-pressed to win rounds against a boxer whose punch output is far greater than his and whose constant movement may make it almost impossible for “TBE” to establish his timing.
There’s also the fact Pacquiao appears to enjoy a significant mental advantage, as he has wanted this fight for years and believes Floyd has been ducking him. Even if that isn’t true, the fact Manny believes it to be true gives him an edge. But there have also been some undeniable tells on Mayweather’s part, to use a poker term, which seem to betray uncertainty, the most significant being Floyd’s decision to hire new personnel and change his usual training routines. Meanwhile, for Pacquiao, this is more or less just another big fight where his efforts are backed by an entire nation. He has already stated he does not regard Floyd as his most formidable opponent to date, and he appears to be relaxed, confident and enjoying himself in all public appearances. Meanwhile, Floyd seems tense and uncomfortable.
I can’t help thinking that how Floyd has chosen to conduct his career over the last several years may be his undoing. Always minimizing risk and choosing matches where he enjoys significant advantages in skill, talent or size has left him mentally unprepared for a circumstance where few, if any, such advantages exist. Preparing to face Manny Pacquiao, even an aging version of the Pacman, is very different from taking on guys like Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, Marcos Maidana or even Canelo Alvarez. Pacquiao is on another level. He’s on Floyd’s level. And it’s been a long time since Mayweather has had to face such a challenge. I don’t think he’s up for it. Pacquiao by decision.
Eliott McCormick: While I hope Manny shows up to this desert showdown, quickly draws both guns, and blasts away, I think Floyd’s defensive shell remains, for the most part, impenetrable. If Pacquiao doesn’t get to him early, he won’t get to him late, and Floyd is too smart to brawl in the first few rounds. Mayweather by decision.
Rafael Garcia: The first four rounds of Mayweather vs Pacquiao will determine whether the Filipino can compete with Mayweather or whether we’re about to witness yet another tedious boxing clinic. If Manny lets his hands go and shows he can land power punches on Floyd, then the fight is on, baby! But if the Filipino shows up trigger-shy, hoping to outbox Floyd, get ready for a re-enactment of Mayweather vs Canelo.
Assuming Pacquiao steals at least a couple of the opening rounds, you better believe this is going to be a close fight, resembling to some degree the first two Pacquiao vs Marquez fights were Manny pressed the action and got the best of his opponent in exchanges. In this scenario, Floyd would be looking to counter, evading Pacquiao’s punches to land his own. I can’t see either guy scoring a knockout, or even a late stoppage. Two guys with so much talent and experience are not going to allow themselves to get caught. More to the point, neither fighter will even be looking for a knockout; they have too much respect for each other and both know their opponent has a solid chin. With that in mind, I predict a close—and inevitably controversial—decision victory for the house fighter, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather by decision.
Manny Montreal: Everybody says, “My head says Floyd, but my heart says Manny.” Well, I think Manny is gonna put him on his butt. I really hope so. And that’s what this is about: hope. My pick is based on what’s good for boxing. If Mayweather wins, that’s it. We won’t see a rematch. And nothing really changes. However, if Pacquiao wins, there’s gonna be a rematch. And hope is reborn. And thousands of kids all over the world are gonna pick up a pair of boxing gloves because they saw Manny Pacquiao do what everyone said he couldn’t do. So I’m choosing hope. I’m rooting for Pacquiao. Screw my brain; I’m going with my heart. Pacquiao by decision.
Robert Portis: For the last few years I keep finding reasons to pick against Floyd and of course, over and over again, I’m wrong. Am I going to stop now? You bet. I’ve learned my lesson and I don’t doubt for a second Mayweather has done everything possible — inside and outside the ring — to ensure victory. It’s going the distance and no matter what, Floyd will be getting the judges’ verdict. 48-0? Definitely. Controversial? You bet. Mayweather by decision.
Lee Wylie: Mayweather might not be as vibrant as he was three or four years ago, but he’s the naturally bigger man, is clearly more versatile, physically stronger, and his conditioning remains otherworldly. In addition, Mayweather hits harder than advertised and takes a great shot himself. No matter how you slice it then, Floyd Mayweather is rightfully the betting favorite.
And yet, I find myself leaning towards Pacquiao, who, I suspect, might be perceived as the better performer by the judges in a closely contested bout. Styles really do make fights, and high-volume punchers who throw unconventional blows in irregular sequences and from unconventional angles, are problematic for counter-punchers whose system is designed to deal with conventional angles and regular punch sequences. And in this case, the high-volume puncher also has blistering hand and foot speed, which makes the task of seizing the initiative that much harder for the counter-puncher because he is constantly playing catch-up with his reactions.
As well-rounded a tactician as boxing has seen, Mayweather relies on pattern recognition and good timing to exploit his opponent’s tendencies. But I believe Pacquiao’s feints, superior foot speed (when was the last time you could say that about a Mayweather opponent?), offbeat rhythm and explosive, in-and-out raids will create havoc with the undefeated American’s timing and prevent him from seizing the all-important initiative. Pacquiao by decision.
Shaun Brown: Ever since speculation began about this fight, I picked Mayweather from moment one and despite some last minute deliberation with myself, I’m still going with ‘Money’ to win something like a 116-112. I’m not buying into the claim that De La Hoya laid some sort of blueprint; I personally thought Mayweather was having fun that night and toyed with the Golden Boy at times. Age has affected Floyd slightly but I still see Pacquiao’s style being his downfall. His buzzsaw way of fighting could see him getting countered more often than you might expect and I don’t see how ‘Pacman’ gets out of Floyd’s traps without harm. The unbeaten American also has a Plan B and C that is superior to anything Manny can muster should plan A fail. Pac will have his moments, undoubtedly, but the eye-catching, jolting stuff will come from Floyd which may lead to him pulling away in the second half of the fight. Mayweather by decision.
Ryan Franco: It’s fitting that the tale of two legends will boil down to a tale of two fights: the first six rounds, and the last six rounds. Floyd has never lost the latter, so Manny will have to do his best to fully win the former. After all these years of back and forth over who will win, I can’t see Manny front-loading the match enough to win on points. As the fight goes on, Floyd commands not just the ring, but the rest of the world’s eyes and cruises to victory. On Saturday, I will be rooting for Manny, but seems to me one would have to be blind to not see that since 2010 Pacquiao has been on a steady decline, while Floyd just seems to get more dominant. Mayweather by decision.
Sherif Dhaimish: Unfortunately, this is a fight where my head and heart cannot come together. I see Pacquiao bringing the heat from the word go and causing significant problems for Mayweather early in the fight. However, with a boxing brain like Mayweather’s I believe he can neutralize Manny’s offence. This isn’t to say it will be a whitewash. If Pacquiao unleashes his ferocity in timely attacks, he could go on to win a close decision. But I can’t envision a scenario other than Mayweather winning by points. Though that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about an earth shattering left hand landing on Floyd’s button and ending matters inside the distance. Sadly, I expect that will remain a fantasy. Mayweather by decision.
Alfonso Jasso: I expect this match to live up to its name, The Fight of the Century. Pacquiao will be like no other opponent Floyd has ever faced. He has the speed and the relentless punching volume to give the Michigan native fits. But Mayweather is a foe like none Pacquiao has faced. His versatility and ring intelligence are qualities that will force the Pacman to think twice about his ways of attack. Pacquiao will win the first half of the fight, but in the middle rounds Mayweather will show the world he is the superior technician. He will have his best moments at close quarters, hurting Pacquiao, forcing him to overthink his entries. After the seventh Floyd will establish his distance, and find the task of timing the Filipino slugger easier. I see him stopping Manny in the late rounds and making a statement. Mayweather by TKO
Shawn Smith: This fight is the ultimate juxtaposition in just about every way possible. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are two kinds of people, from two very different backgrounds, with two different priorities, fighting for one reason. It’s America vs the Philippines, the man who values money above all vs the religious, family man. It’s the technical, savvy boxer against the battler, the good guy against the bad guy, pro wrestling logic at its best. And in the end, I can’t help but pick Mayweather. I believe he can tame the rushing bull that is Pacquiao, invite him in and pick him off. Would it shock me if Pacquiao found a way? No. But I can’t waver from the conviction that Mayweather is the better fighter and will use his talent to outpoint Pacquiao. Mayweather by decision.