The long-awaited Mayweather vs Pacquiao clash may or may not become 2015’s Fight of the Year but it certainly is the boxing event of the year. A fight several years in the making is now on the lips of every boxing fan across the globe. Here in the U.K., the coverage has been substantial with articles, podcasts, interviews and 30-minute preview shows doing enough to whet the appetite before Saturday night’s monumental pay-per-view. With thousands of eyes due to tune in, The Fight City decided to pick the brains of some of Britain and Ireland’s fighters, former fighters, trainers and members of the media. Are you undecided about who you’re picking or where your money is going? Maybe these will help.
Chris McKenna, Daily Star: “Despite the fact he appeared to slow down a touch in his two fights over Marcos Maidana, I cannot see past Floyd Mayweather Jr to win on points or maybe even late stoppage if he wears Manny Pacquiao down. Pacquiao will give him plenty of problems over the first half of the fight but like he has done so many times before, I predict the American to work the Filipino puncher out and claim his 48th win.”
Bob Ajisafe, British light heavyweight champion: “My prediction is that the fight will be competitive for the first six rounds. I see Manny being the aggressor, on the front foot using his southpaw style, hand speed and footwork to get in range, but finding the target will be a problem. Floyd will rely on his master counter punching ability and defensive skills to sway out of distance, and catch shots, comeback counter Manny when he comes in to attack. Manny’s straight left which is his key weapon.
“Floyd will be razor sharp and his timing probably offset Manny’s rhythm, and then pick him off with counters. I see him maybe leading off occasionally with lead right hands when the opportunity arises possibly in the latter half or the fight as Manny will be too energised in the first half I see it being a technical fight. There won’t be a knock out, both are too proficiently sound to allow that to happen. I see Mayweather winning a points decision with his accurate counter right hand scoring points and using his jab effectively in numerous ways.”
Glenn Catley, former world super middleweight champion: “I can see controversy written all over this one and I only hope and pray it lives up to all the hype. It’s my belief the Pacman will throw 3 to 1 as many shots against Mayweather, which invariably won’t all land or connect because of Mayweather’s superior defensive skills. However you don’t score any points from blocking or slipping. I believe the southpaw stance of Pacman will play a significant factor in the fight and the way he will attack at varying angles will also give Floyd problems. I think the winner should be Manny in what will be a distance fight, although I can see Mayweather’s arm being raised from the judges controversial decision after 12 rounds.”
Elliot Worsell, boxing writer: “I’m picking Mayweather to win on points because it’s the safest thing to do. After all, until someone shows a way to beat him, it’s hard to go against a man who is 47-0. Pacquiao’s southpaw stance, aggression, work-rate and tenacity will likely cause Mayweather problems early, much as Zab Judah did in 2008, but eventually I expect Floyd to settle down and grab a competitive decision on the scorecards. He’s a little too technical, a little too clever for a man who has shown he can be outboxed and out-thought at the elite level.”
Graham Houston, Editor, Boxing Monthly: “Pacquiao split decision. I’m going for his speed and punch-volume to trump Mayweather’s defence and precision. Mayweather’s size advantage is a concern, but Pacquiao is accustomed to fighting bigger men. Pacquiao must get the tactics spot-on, though — if he lets the fight get away from him, lets Floyd dictate, it’s all over.”
Iain Butcher, British flyweight contender: “I thought it was a 50-50 fight until I watched the May-Pac thing on TV and I personally think Pacman has slowed down with his feet and looks a bit aged to me so now I believe it will be a wide points decision for Mayweather unless Pacman can land a clean shot that puts Mayweather clean out but I am 90% sure he’s too slow for it.
Stephen Smith, super featherweight contender: “Would love to see Pacquiao win but think Mayweather wins a wide points decision. He’s too good and will be too clever with his counters I feel.”
Paul Stevenson, trainer: “I think Mayweather would be most people’s pick but I’ll go with Pacquiao.
Pacquiao has always had fast feet and he throws well in combination. Mayweather likes to slow the pace, go into his defensive shell then counter with quick singles and sneak shots. He’ll do as little work as he can get away with. I think the key to the fight for Pacquiao is to trigger Mayweather’s counters with educated aggression and fast footwork then immediately attack again in combination with straight shots, uppercuts and hooks which can be fired over and under and around Mayweathers shoulder business. Then repeat.
“If he can make this work, Pacquiao can outwork Mayweather in most of the exchanges and get a decision or late stoppage. It just depends on how much Pacquiao has left because Mayweather would never tangle with the beast Pacquiao was when destroying Hatton, Cotto and Margarito etc. Most rounds will be tight but I give Pacquiao a good chance. That said, Mayweather will have his own ref and judges in all likelihood so it will be hard for Pacquiao to leave with the belts.”
Mark Butcher, Boxing Monthly: “I agree with Freddie Roach that Floyd’s legs have slowed. The roughhouse Maidana wouldn’t have hit Mayweather with a bag of sand two years ago. But the Argentine’s relative success perhaps suggests a key to victory. A more unorthodox approach. Floyd is masterful at slipping textbook punches, the key is to unsettle him, break his rhythm. Maybe Pacquiao needs to look at hitting arms, elbows, anything that supports the perception of him being the ‘busy fighter’. It benefits Pacquiao to come in at 143-144 for extra sharpness, speed. I think he can nick a split decision, but we’re used to eccentric scorecards in Vegas.”
Barry Jones, Boxnation pundit: “I’m going for Mayweather by points. I just think he’s too big, and good timing beats blind speed.”
Jamie Moore, trainer/Sky Sports pundit: “I think because this fight is so big, and the anticipation has been building for years, we can expect a cagey start from both fighters, with the early rounds being nip and tuck. I see both fighters having success in patches, and as the fight goes on the pace will increase and we will see exchanges where both fighters come out on top. I just have Pacquiao having slightly more success in the exchanges by coming in in phases, and JUST edging it on points. REMATCH!”
Colin Hart, The Sun: “Five years ago I would have picked Floyd Mayweather to beat Manny Pacquiao and nothing has happened to make me change my mind. Mayweather is one of the finest defensive fighters I’ve seen in more than 50 years. He is also a master tactician who always finds a way to win. I believe he will be too clever for Pacquiao and I expect him to get a unanimous points decision.”
Herol Graham, former world middleweight/super middleweight title challenger: “I predict a Mayweather win in probably a late stoppage or a big points win on his speed and boxing ability. Stoppage maybe, as they say speed times strength is power!”
Jon Lewis Dickinson, British cruiserweight: “Can’t see Mayweather getting beat although I do see Pacquiao causing him a lot of problems at times with his speed, but Mayweather for a points win.”
Mark Turley, author/boxing writer: “I don’t think I’ve got a big fight prediction right since David Haye beat Nikolay Valuev in 2009, so Pacquiao fans will be pleased to know I’m picking Mayweather. I can see it being close, with Pacman darting in and out and swarming Money with combinations. How often he lands early will set the scene – the first two rounds are crucial. If Pac stops May settling into his rhythm, then he could nick it, but I fancy Mayweather, even at 38 to be just a bit too cute, to ride out some sticky moments and take it on points.
Nathan Cleverly, former WBO light heavyweight champion: “I predict a Pacquiao very close points win. Mayweather has been pushed close before by pressure fighters who throw in numbers i.e De La Hoya (trained by Roach), Castillo. Pacquiao is more relentless. He will double up attacks… in and out. He won’t land many clean punches but he will land enough to out-score Floyd. Floyd will look for the counter straight right hand through the middle, letting Pacquiao walk on to it. He will have good success, very efficient. But, Manny to throw and land more hence taking points win.”
Andrew Clarke, boxing commentator: “With a fight like this usually, from the time it’s announced to the time the fighters get in the ring, I change my mind about the outcome a good half dozen times. But on this occasion I picked Mayweather at the start and my opinion hasn’t altered. I just think Floyd will be able to adapt to whatever comes his way courtesy of Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach and secure a win on points. I expect Manny to give him problems but my prediction’s a win for Floyd by a score of 115-113, possibly a touch wider.”
Nick Blackwell – British middleweight contender: “I reckon for the first part of the fight Pacquiao gives Mayweather trouble then Mayweather comes on strong and beats him on points.”
Kevin Byrne – Irish Sun Sport: “It’s always been my belief that Mayweather would be too clever and too sharp for the Filipino and this is no time for changing your mind. And yet, it’s tempting as the big one approaches and ‘heart says X, head says Y’ comes into play. Money’s looked poor in his last two with Marcos Maidana, although those two displays did follow one of his career highlights, the beating of Saul Alvarez. Pacquiao’s not as past-it as has been made out and his two wins over Tim Bradley are up there with anything his rival has achieved in the last five years. He’s the younger man, which we forget due to the wars he’s been in, who’s got the hunger. But Mayweather will do whatever it takes not to lose. Pacquiao has not slowed down as significantly as his detractors would suggest, even if the 2009 powerball has been and gone. His southpaw style, punch variation and frenetic energy will give the p4p king all he can handle. Both men will have their moments. Pacman will get to him early while Mayweather will inflict some late brutality near the finish. Mayweather by decision.”
Ron Lewis, The Times: “Mayweather points Pretty unoriginal prediction, but I expect Pacquiao to do well in the first half of the fight before Mayweather gets on top in the second half. I have thought that Mayweather has looked old this week, though, so a Pacquiao win is not out of the question.”
Jazza Dickens, British super bantamweight champion: “My heart says Pacquiao on points. His foot movement and fast hands could be tricky to counter if he’s anything like his former self.”
Matthew Macklin, middleweight contender: “Mayweather. Better defence. More calculated, smarter, makes very few mistakes. Manny as good as he is, makes more mistakes which I feel Mayweather will exploit. Plus Mayweather has proven he can adapt and adjust when he needs to. Whatever happens he finds a way to win.”
Steve Lillis, journalist/Boxnation pundit: “EVERY time Floyd has had to adjust he has managed it, and he’ll adapt to Pacquiao’s style and deliver again. Pacman will throw volumes of punches and hope Mayweather fades late, but the American is still the slickest of them off and figures a way to win. After 12 rounds, I believe he will be in a long lead on all three judges’ cards and cement his status as the world’s number one boxer. Mayweather by decision.”
Luke Campbell, world lightweight contender: “For me Mayweather wins on points! I think Pacman will throw lots of punches in bunches but will be defended by Mayweather taking them on the gloves. Leaving Mayweather to counter with singles or doubles with crisp clean shots!”
John Rawling, boxing commentator: “Mayweather by points in a disappointing fight. Pacquiao no longer with the speed and explosive power of his youth will be competitive early, but Mayweather could have his measure by halfway and the box his way to the verdict. Two fighters past their prime sadly, and it is a shame fighter and promotional egos, along with US TV politics, stopped the fight happening when it might have matched the hype.”
David Price, heavyweight contender: “Mayweather in a tactical chess match. Pac will know he can’t attack recklessly and try to counter the counter puncher. But he will eventually go for it and be picked apart. Mayweather points.”
Callum Johnson, British light heavyweight: “I predict a Mayweather win. I think it’ll be either a one sided fight, a masterclass from Mayweather or a very tight close fight. But still Mayweather wins.”
Jim McDonnell, trainer: Intriguing match up) 50/50 in my book! Mayweather edges it for me bigger man, undefeated etc etc. In Pacman’s favour is “he” aint got that expectancy which relates to “pressure” fascinating match up!
Anthony Crolla, world lightweight contender: “I think it’s hard to go against a Mayweather points win. Expecting a pretty cagey start with a lot feinting early on before Pacquiao starts taking more chances which is where I believe Floyd starts landing more. Not much in the rounds but see the quality coming from Floyd. Scorecards something like 116-112, 117-111 and then a wacky scorecard.”
Spencer Oliver, former European super bantamweight champion: “I think Pacquiao wins on points. Speed of hands, speed of foot, southpaw stance and all out aggression will be enough to win a tight points decision.”