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Fri May 1, 2015, 07:05 PM

The Fight

Tomorrow night is the “Big Fight” between welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and challenger Manny Pacquiao. The bout is being billed as “The Fight of the Century,” which is accurate at this point -- though there are 84 years to go. Even before the first bell rings, its being compared to Louis vs. Schmeling (6-22-1938), and Frazier vs. Ali I (3-8-’71).

In my opinion, the bout is more similar to Johnson vs. Jefferies (7-4-1910): in that much anticipated fight, the nation was split primarily upon “color lines,” with blacks hoping for Johnson, and whites praying to see “that golden smile removed from his (Johnson’s) face.” Jack Johnson was a complex character outside of the ring, and his flamboyant life-style offended white folks. In the ring, he was a defensive master, who wore his outclassed opponents out, before beating them into submission.

Jefferies, the undefeated former champion, was viewed as the “Great White Hope.” More than 20,000 people traveled to Reno, Nevada, to watch the bout. It turned out to be one-sided. After Johnson put Jefferies away, at least 20 people were killed in “race riots” broke out in 50 cities across America -- from Texas to New York, and from Colorado to Washington, DC.

Floyd Mayweather is the incarnation of Jack Johnson: his ring-style and life-style resemble Johnson’s, far more than they do Ali’s. Yet, besides being all-time great fighters, what the three have in common is being hated by much of the public.

The Louis vs. Schmeling II, and the Frazier vs. Ali I, were definitely “Super Fights.” More, each of them were deemed to transcend sports. Max had defeated a younger Joe, before the Brown Bomber won the heavyweight title. Their re-match was cast as a contest between Nazi Germany and the United States (despite Schmeling’s not being a Nazi). It was a brutal, one-round knockout, in which Joe did severe damage to Max’s spine.

Frazier vs. Ali I pitted two undefeated heavyweight champions, for the first time in history. Ali was, of course, despised by the right-wing, who incorrectly viewed him as a “draft-dodger.” Thus, even Richard Nixon was pulling for a Frazier victory. The left-wing was rooting for Ali.

In many ways, tomorrow’s fight is more similar to the 4-6-87 bout between middleweight champion Marvin Hagler and challenger Sugar Ray Leonard. This was in the golden era for welter-and middleweights; Marvin and Ray were considered the two best. For years, Ray avoided the fight. However, when he saw evidence that Hagler’s skills were deteriorating, and was able to dictate the ring-size, the glove-size, the number of rounds (12, rather than 15), and the location (Las Vegas), he interrupted Marvin’s plan to retire.

By preparing for twelve distinct “mini-” bouts -- each round -- and determing that he could “steal” rounds by fighting in spurts to impress the Vegas judges -- Ray won a decision. It was controversial then, and still is the subject of much dispute among the boxing community today. I recognize that Ray won; however, I recognize that, had the exact same bout have taken place in Atlantic City, Hagler would have gotten the decision. Different venues favor different tactics.

A strong case can be made for either man winning tomorrow night. The only thing that is certain at this point is that anyone who claims either fighter has “no chance” doesn’t understand boxing. Both Floyd and Manny are not only great boxers, but both rank among the sport’s All-Time Greats. Each possesses extreme physical skills. Yet, what makes both unique talents is their mental strength.

In many ways, each will be taking a page out of Ray Leonard’s book: they recognize that each one of the twelve rounds is a battle in itself. More, each round is three minutes long. When two fairly evenly-matched great fighters meet, not only is it rare for one to win every round, but almost impossible to win every minute of every round. (It’s worth noting that for many years, Floyd literally won almost every round of every one of his fights. That is extremely rare, especially considering that he faced tough competition.)

For Manny Pacquiao, that means near-constant foot movement; darting in-and-out at angles -- never coming straight in, or straight out; and throwing high-volume combinations. More, it means trying to throw the last punch in almost every exchange. If he appears busier in two of the three minutes, he can steal rounds.

Pac-Man’s hand-speed may allow him to do something that virtually no opponent has done yet: to land consecutive punches to Floyd’s head. To do so, he will need to throw “up and down,” meaning combinations to the head and body. Still, Manny’s overall intensity in the ring has to be controlled -- after throwing a combination, he must spin away from Floyd, never setting a pattern.

Clearly, Pacquiao can knock an opponent unconscious. But he should not be looking for a knockout In fact, if he starts to load-up on punches, he will pay severely for it. However, he does have the ability to exploit Floyd’s going off-balance: when Mayweather leads with a crisp right-cross -- and he surely will tomorrow -- he tends to bend at the waist, and hop out to the side. Manny need not land a hard counter -- just an accurate one. If he does score a knockdown, even just because Floyd was off-balance, that’s a 10-8 round. And that alone could be the difference on the score cards.

As much as I respect Manny Pacquiao, I definitely favor Floyd Mayweather. I think that “hit and don’t get hit” is the proper approach to the Great Sport. Floyd has accomplished this to great success, actually in two distinct (though related) manners in his career. For the early through middle years, he simply imposed himself on opponents. His 1-20-’01 destruction of undefeated champion Diego Corrales is the best example. I’d also include his 6-25-05 bout against Arturo Gatti; in it, Floyd reminded me of Ali devastating Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, and landing at an unreal rate.

More recently, Floyd has displayed the ability of a technician, which is rare, indeed. He’s able to measure the exact rate that a Zab Judah or an Oscar de la Hoys will tire. Then exploit it fully. He played with Juan Manuel Marquez, himself a legendary ring technician. Floyd defined controlling the geography of the ring against the much larger Canelo Alvarez. Against Mosley, he showed he could take a very hard, accurate punch that he never saw coming. And with Cotto and in the first Maidana bout, Floyd showed physical strength and endurance.

It’s fascinating to see that Floyd has gone “old school” in this training camp. I was the guest on a sports-radio show last night, with two hosts who had interviewed Floyd the day before; his camp is among the things that has all three of us thinking Floyd may win in impressive fashion in the late rounds. The pre-fight specials show that he is setting down, and lifting from his feet up, hard body shots. (Manny’s first two knockout loses resulted from body punches.)

Floyd is also chopping wood. Reportedly, a lot of it. This results in greater punching-power. This is especially true for punches that he “turns over” (meaning turning his wrist/fist when a punch lands). It seems likely that he will open a cut, somewhere on Manny’s brow, by the middle rounds. It also means that should Manny come straight in with his chin up, or moves straight back after an exchange -- both things he does too often -- he may be knocked to the canvas.

Still, no fighter has shown a greater understanding of a title fight consisting of 12 three-minute rounds than Floyd. While he no longer wins every minute of every round, he has an uncanny ability to “keep score” in his head, and turn on the punches when needed. His defensive skills are legendary: most opponents miss punches at a career-high rate. In response, Floyd lands his punches at a higher rate than any other fighter.

I expect the bout to be fairly even for six rounds. After that, Floyd should be able to impose himself on Manny, with his advantages in size, strength, and smarts. By round nine, I expect Floyd to become more aggressive than most people expect; this doesn’t have to include coming forward, stalking Pacquiao constantly. But it does mean initiating the action with blinding speed.

The most likely outcome is a decision victory for Mayweather. However, a late round TKO isn’t going to surprise me. (In fact, nothing will!)

Enjoy the fight!

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Fight (Original post)
H2O Man May 2015 OP
KamaAina May 2015 #1
H2O Man May 2015 #3
Jamaal510 May 2015 #2
H2O Man May 2015 #4
aint_no_life_nowhere May 2015 #5
H2O Man May 2015 #6
ProfessorGAC May 2015 #7
H2O Man May 2015 #8

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 1, 2015, 08:33 PM

1. You called it!

 

(I think. )

If this fight had happened when it should have four or five years ago, I would have given the edge to Pacquiao. But Floyd has held up a lot better than he has, as evidenced by the Bradley fight.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #1)

Sat May 2, 2015, 02:00 PM

3. 9 hours!

I'd agree. Since his devastating knockout loss, Manny has really only had one serious fight, the re-match with Tim Bradley. But, as even great fighters age, that is a good way to approach boxing ..... easy fight, tough fight, easy fight, tough fight. Older guys do not tend to be up for consecutive bouts. In that sense, Manny should be at his current peak tonight.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 2, 2015, 03:38 AM

2. I'll see if

I can stream it online, or I might go to a bar if I get really desperate. $90 is too much for me to pay for just 1 fight.

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Response to Jamaal510 (Reply #2)

Sat May 2, 2015, 02:02 PM

4. Right.

I'm paying the same for PPV tonight, as for a ringside ticket to Ali vs Frazier II at Madison Square Garden. And tonight's ringside tickets were going for $100,000. Yikes!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 2, 2015, 10:06 PM

5. Two of the best fighters of this era

I love to watch the skill of both fighters. Mayweather was previously accused of ducking big fights to preserve his undefeated legacy. That hasn't been the case of late, fighting tough guys like Canelo Alvarez, the dangerous Marcos Maidana, and Guererro. Marquez vs. Mayweather was a wonderful fight to watch (Marquez' skill is wonderful to watch and he's one of my fave fighters). Pacquiao for basically a little guy has fought everyone in sight, at different weights, blowing my mind. I don't hate on either guy; they are a joy to watch. Floyd used to reportedly have bad hands, fragile and painful. I guess that's not the case anymore. I have no idea about this one. I don't think Floyd has ever faced anyone with the combination of chin, speed, relentlessness, maneuverability and grit as Pacquiao. Floyd though is a very smart fighter who can seemingly adjust to anyone. This should be a good one.

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Response to aint_no_life_nowhere (Reply #5)

Sun May 3, 2015, 01:24 AM

6. It was an outstanding bout.

I had it 10-2; my son saw it 9-3.

It was amazing how "easy" Mayweather made it look. Manny landed less than 10 punches in 9 of the 12 rounds ....unheard of in his career.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Mon May 4, 2015, 08:10 AM

7. I'm Between You And Your Son

I had it 9-2-1. I didn't think anybody did enough in the first round to win it.

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #7)

Mon May 4, 2015, 10:05 AM

8. There wasn't much

to separate the two in the first round. I think that in the first minute, Floyd did land two clean shots, the best punches of that round.

Speculation on my part: I suspect that Floyd remembered what Cus D'Amato had told Ali before the Foreman bout -- you need to come right out and land a clean, hard right-cross. That is to make the opponent realize you have more punching power than he anticipated. If you do it in the first 20 seconds, against a guy considered the dangerous puncher, you can influence his confidence per coming right at you, attacking early. I could be wrong, of course, but in the first 45 seconds, I was reminded of Cus's advice.

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