A strength-weakness analysis of Mayweather-Pacquiao
By Peter Lim
Beyond the unprecedented hype of the richest super fight in the history of the sport lies a genuinely intriguing collision course style-wise in which each fighter has assets that play well against the other one's liabilities.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s defensive wizardry stems from an almost supernatural ability to read body language; he seems to know what his opponents are going to do before they do. Against Manny Pacquiao, though, he faces a southpaw who flouts the fundamentals of the sweet science, shooting from awkward angles to land punches on unlikely targets.
One of Mayweather's favorite evasive moves is turning and dipping to his right away from the usual incoming punch trajectory, leaving his opponents catching nothing but air. But should he attempt that move against Pacquiao, he might be flirting with disaster by exposing himself to Pacquiao's wide-angled straight left. Conventional wisdom dictates that the left fist almost always connects on the right side of the intended victim and vice versa, but Pacquiao has the uncanny knack for landing his left on the left side of his opponents' face. He emphatically demonstrated that propensity with knockdowns against Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Chris Algieri.
The only time Mayweather was dropped came courtesy of a southpaw right hook in the second round against Zab Judah in 2006 that was mistakenly ruled as a slip. Although the straight left is Pacquiao's deadliest punch, he packs a pretty mean right hook as well, thrown from tight, unexpected angles. Just ask Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto how hard he hits with that hook. Mayweather tends to hold his left low leaving himself susceptible to the shot.
Even if Pacquiao can catch Mayweather cleanly, Mayweather rarely makes the same mistake twice. He was dropped by Judah and wobbled by Mosley early but was never hurt again and went on to beat both fighters decisively. Short of Pacquiao landing a fight-ending punch, Mayweather should gradually be able to figure out Pacquaio as the fight progresses.
How effective Pacquiao can be offensively against Mayweather is a matter of speculation, but Pacquiao's vulnerability against the pull-counter is a proven fact, as Marquez exposed in his four bouts against the Filipino. And as effective as Marquez was with that maneuver, Mayweather practically invented the pull-counter. Not only does he execute it precisely with a harpoon of a straight right, he mixes in the check hook as well.
Pacquiao is most dangerous when he establishes a comfortable rhythm but against Mayweather, he faces the quintessential rhythm killer. Mayweather makes himself a frustratingly elusive target not only with his deft movement but also by smothering and entangling his opponents in clinches forcing them to constantly set and reset.
Masterful boxers have faced ferocious punchers throughout the history of the sport, but Mayweather-Pacquiao is unparalleled because of the fighters' uniquely contrasting modes of combat. Although it's a nebulous comparison, Leonard-Hagler - a match-up between two legends a few years past their primes - bears the closest resemblance to this showdown. (Sandy Saddler versus Willie Pep also comes to mind). Like Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard was a speedy, cerebral technician who knew how to adjust to any style. And like Pacquiao, Marvin Hagler was violent but calculating right-handed southpaw capable of ending a fight with a single punch. Brain prevailed over brawn in the case of Leonard-Hagler. How will this one unfold?
Read this blogger's prediction at: peterliminator.blogspot.com.
Several members of the Houston boxing fraternity weigh in on Mayweather-Pacquiao:
Ronnie Shields, trainer at Plex Gym
first two rounds will probably go to Pacquiao. Mayweather will sit back
and try to figure him out but it won't take him long. Once he gets the
timing down he's going to throw a lot more combinations that will keep
Pacquiao off balance and I think it's going to be an exciting fight from
there. I just see Mayweather outboxing him."
Lou Savarese, promoter and former heavyweight contender
"I like Mayweather by decision."
Frank Tate, 1984 Olympic gold medalist, former IBF middleweight titleholder, trainer at Hank's Gym
"I'm going early with Pacquiao. But if it goes the distance, Mayweather wins."
Rocky Juarez (30-11-1, 21 KOs), 2000 Olympic silver medalist, five-time world title challenger
going to win by decision. Mayweather's just too intelligent, too smart
and he always finds a way to figure his opponent out."
Juan Lopez, trainer at Lopez Boxing Gym
"The thing about Mayweather is he's real good at blocking two, three, four punches, but what's going to happen if Pacquiao throws six or seven? He's real unorthodox and it's hard to prepare for a guy like that. But I still think Mayweather's going to outbox him and win a decision."
Miguel Flores (14-0, 7 KOs), featherweight prospect
"Pacquiao's going to bring to the table more than people expect but I'll have to go with Mayweather. I believe it'll be a decision but we'll see some wary moments where Pacquiao's going to make him work harder than he thinks he needs to."