I have seen them at their best. I have covered every Floyd Mayweather fight since 1998, and the impressive wins that made Manny Pacquaio an international sensation over Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.
I believe either man can win the fight either way, stoppage or decision. It is the fight of both their lives, and if it isn’t the most competitive fight of their careers, it will be more a credit to the winner than a discredit to the loser. Neither Mayweather nor Pacquao is in his prime anymore, but both are close enough to it to make it a compelling fight.
The problem for Pacquiao, and I think the difference in the fight, is how to be at his aggressive offensive best without getting caught out of position by the premier counterpuncher of this generation. And when he does, he has to be able to accept the punishment and not be deterred.
No one has done all of that for as many as seven rounds out of 12 against Mayweather before.
I don’t think Pacquiao will sustain the activity level long enough to keep pressing Mayweather without having his output negated. He eventually may have to let it hang and go out on his shield if necessary — he has a lot to fight for, including Filipino national pride — but that isn’t likely until and unless he finds himself hopelessly behind on the scorecards.
Floyd Mayweather weighed in at 146 pounds Friday and Manny Pacquiao was 145 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens late. I don’t think a knockout is likely, but a knockdown certainly is possible. I think within the first three or four rounds, Mayweather gets Pacquiao timed and starts to take more control of a deliberately paced fight in mid-ring, where Pacquiao can’t win. If Pacquiao decides not to slow down after Mayweather figures him out, he very well might get caught after one of his offensive lunges.
Or, Pacquiao takes control and wins the fight himself. If it takes Mayweather into the middle rounds or beyond to time Pacquiao — or if he never quite does it, which would be a huge surprise, but he is 38 years old and getting old happens quickly in a boxing ring — then the danger of his first professional loss increases. That’s why this is more than twice-annually Mayweather event. It could turn into a real fight.
There will be moments like that, but I think Mayweather will keep it even through four rounds, when Pacquiao needs to be ahead, moves the fight into the open spaces near that logo in the center, scores a knockdown when Pacquiao makes a desperation-based mistake, and wins 116-111.
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