With just days to go before May 2, Mayweather vs Pacquiao is upon us, and as part of our coverage of this megafight, Eliott and Rafa have performed a rigorous analysis of Floyd’s and Manny’s performances against their five common opponents. You can find their assessments of Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton here, and their analysis of their fights against Juan Manuel Marquez here. In this third and final installment, they dissect Floyd’s and Manny’s performances against “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.
“Sugar” Shane Mosley
2010-05-01: Floyd Mayweather UD Shane Mosley
2011-05-07: Manny Pacquiao UD Shane Mosley
RG – Coming off his domination of Pacquiao’s number one nemesis in Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather chose “Sugar” Shane Mosley as his next opponent. Mosley’s previous fight resulted in a pummeling beatdown of Antonio Margarito, and since that fight happened early in 2009–before Mayweather announced his return from retirement–Mosley was largely considered the man to beat at 147-pounds. Thus, Mayweather vs Mosley, a contest years in the making, would crown a new lineal welterweight champion.
That being said, the Mosley that fought Mayweather was also looked at as a walking question mark, given the fact he’d been sitting idly since the Margarito fight. When Mosley–then 38 years old–stepped into the ring against Floyd, he broke a 15-month hiatus. For these reasons, it was hard to ascertain whether Shane would be able to compete against the lightning-quick Mayweather, who had proven his still-elite skills against Juan Manuel Marquez a few months before.
The first round of Mayweather vs Mosley was competitive, and the second one saw Shane land a couple of thunderous rights that buckled Mayweather’s legs. But the rest of the fight was as one-sided in favour of Mayweather as the Marquez bout was. Whenever Floyd wasn’t pressing the action landing laser-guided lead right hands, he was busy punishing Mosley’s mistakes, making it seem as if the three-division champion didn’t even belong in the ring with him.
After his loss to Mayweather, Mosley took what should’ve been a stay-busy fight with Sergio Mora at 154-pounds, an affair as dull as they come that ended in an ugly and forgetable draw. He followed that with a fight against Manny Pacquiao in May of 2011, but it wasn’t a contest fans were exactly clamoring for. In fact, Pacquiao vs Mosley was made for the same reason the Filipino faced Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito: because the worthiest opponents for Pacquiao at the time were recognizable veterans a bit too far removed from their prime.
This much was evident on fight night: if the Mosley who fought Mayweather had two competitive rounds left in the tank, the one who faced Pacquiao had none. “Sugar” Shane had no answer for Pacquiao’s speed or his punching power. And after he visited the canvas in round three–product of a vintage Pacquiao left–Mosley stopped boxing and effectively started running, too shy to engage with the fearsome “Pacman”. The end result was Pacquiao practically sweeping the scorecards and fight fans watching from home flushing $54.95 down the toilet.
In conclusion, both Mosley fights happened against a far-from-vintage version of “Sugar” Shane, and the fact that both Mayweather and Pacquiao completely outclassed him only makes it that more difficult for us to assess who did it better. You’ll have to be the tie-breaker here, Eliott.
EM – I don’t have much to add to your thoughts on Mosley. Yes, Shane rocked Floyd early in the fight, but as is his wont Mayweather figured out Mosley’s rhythm and landed precise shots at will. It was another monologue, as you aptly characterized his ‘fight’ with Robert Guerrero. Had Floyd fought Mosley in his prime, this obviously would have been a far more interesting and competitive matchup, but like usual he waited until the opportune time, easily beat a once-great fighter, and could then bolster his Boxrec page by adding Shane’s name to it.
Pacquiao vs Mosley was probably the most underwhelming pay-per-view I’ve ever bought. Shane didn’t even engage, so fearful he was of getting beaten up. He later said that he’d hurt his Achilles and couldn’t move effectively, but would good legs have prevented him from being knocked down in the third round? It’s doubtful, and had Mosley fought aggressively he probably would have been stopped. Pacquiao’s power, as Shane admitted in subsequent interviews, packed a “freaky” force he’d never experienced. This made retreating into a defensive shell a calculated tactic of self-preservation. It was laborious fight in which Manny landed over three times the number of punches in a lovefest-cum-boxing match that lacked the distinctive aggression of other Pacquiao performances. It is memorable insofar as it was unmemorable.
But despite the fight’s wretchedness, was Manny less impressive in it? Because he scored a knockdown, was at no point threatened, and landed over three times as many punches as an opponent too fearful to fight back, I have to give this one to Pacquiao.
Score: Mayweather 2 – 2 Pacquiao
2009-11-14: Manny Pacquiao TKO 12 Miguel Cotto
2012-05-05: Floyd Mayweather UD Miguel Cotto
EM – After Manny Pacquiao walked through De La Hoya and Hatton he took on Miguel Cotto, one of the best fighters of his generation, who’s currently enjoying a late career renaissance (despite some misgivings from this here site). At that point Cotto had only lost once, to Antonio Margarito a year before, which remains a tainted outcome given the probability that Margarito fought with loaded hand wraps. Cotto’s bloodied, pancaked face during that fight was a gruesome indictment of the sport’s brutality, and the “Tijuana Tornado” was never appropriately punished for his tactics. To rebuild his life and career, the Puerto Rican stopped Michael Jennings and decisioned Joshua Clottey before agreeing to fight Pacquiao at a 145-lb catchweight.
This fight showcased Manny Pacquiao at the height of his powers. He and Cotto fought a thrilling, violent, and eventually one-sided bout that ended when Kenny Bayless intervened in the twelfth to save the “Boricua” from further abuse. While he did have his moments, and landed more shots than Pacquiao was accustomed to taking at that stage of his career, Cotto was knocked down in the third and fourth rounds by two precise left hands. He fought on gamely, as he always does, but the Puerto Rican was simply facing someone whose blend of speed and power he wasn’t slick or athletic enough to neutralize. At the end of the fight, Larry Merchant, one of Pacquiao’s biggest cheerleaders, said “we thought Manny Pacquiao was great. He’s better than we thought.” It was hard to argue with this assessment.
Two and a half years later Cotto met the other best fighter of his generation when he took on Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand. He had just had avenged the great crime done to him when he busted Margarito’s eye up so badly in their rematch that the fight had to be stopped, which provided a healthy dose of schadenfreude to sympathetic fans. With momentum on his side, Cotto signed on to fight Floyd at junior middleweight, which was much better suited to the “Boricua’s” meaty body than the 145 lb catchweight at which he met Manny.
Cotto was competitive at moments against Mayweather, and even managed to draw blood from Floyd’s nose—an uncommon sight given Floyd’s deserving reputation as a defensive savant. The Puerto Rican was the bigger, stronger man and used his size advantageously, pushing Floyd around and landing some smooth combinations. Like most Mayweather opponents, he was operating at disadvantages in speed and timing, however, and was picked off repeatedly by the sharper puncher. In the twelfth Floyd caught him with a beautiful uppercut and Cotto staggered backwards, perhaps truly hurt for the first time. He lost by unanimous decision but gave a good account of himself and proved again that Floyd’s greatest struggles come against physical fighters with size advantages, like Jose Luis Castillo and most recently, Marcos Maidana.
While Floyd showed a fine chin and his usual poise against Cotto, Manny Pacquiao completely beat up the “Boricua” and gets the nod here. That was Pacquiao at his most potent, when he fought as thrillingly as any fighter, maybe ever.
RG – I agree that Pacquiao vs Cotto most likely represents the peak of Pacquiao-mania. This is because Cotto was considered the most formidable opponent Manny had faced in his post-super featherweight run. Cotto was one of the best fighters around—his devastating loss to Margarito notwithstanding—one with an impressive resumé boasting of wins over names like Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey. The heir apparent to Felix Trinidad in Puerto Rico’s proud boxing tradition, Cotto was also a hard puncher and a naturally bigger athlete than Manny, who barely tipped the scales at 144 for the Cotto showdown. The other thing to consider is that not only did Manny beat Cotto, but he dropped him twice, made him switch to survival mode for the second half of the fight, and eventually earned a stoppage. If the De La Hoya fight turned Manny into a superstar, the Hatton and Cotto victories fully validated him as an extraordinary fighter and ignited the All-Time-Great conversation.
On the other hand, Mayweather vs Cotto—like so many of Floyd’s fights—feels like a delayed attempt by Mayweather to placate fight fans. Yes, Money May confronted the Puerto Rican at a much more accommodating weight, one where Miguel wouldn’t be able to complain about struggling with the scales, and the event yielded an entertaining bout whose outcome was temporarily uncertain. But this only adds to the case against Mayweather for our exercise, since Cotto dominated several rounds, pounding to Mayweather’s body and roughing up the Pretty Boy with strong right-hands upstairs. While Floyd clearly deserved the points victory he was awarded, the truth is that Manny’s stomping of the Puerto Rican was more impressive than Floyd’s tough outing against the same foe.
Score: Mayweather 2 – 3 Pacquiao
So there you have it, fight fans. By a score of 3-to-2, Eliott and Rafa declare Pacquiao the winner of “Who Did It Better”. This brings to an end our series, but we have lots more #MayPac content you definitely don’t want to miss. Also, don’t forget to check out Lee Wylie’s unrivalled technical breakdown of Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s fighting styles in his Signature Techniques series.