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The Manny Pacquiao – Floyd Mayweather JR Historical Comparison

By Geno McGahee

Boxing is hurting for a super fight. The heavyweight division is dominated by the Klitschko brothers, hard-hitting champions that have failed to capture the imagination of the American public and where the heavyweight division goes, so too does boxing.

With the lack of heavyweight quality fights, the boxing public has looked downward and has focused on the two best in the game right now. Filipino powerhouse, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, 51-3-2, 38 KO’s, has a large following. He is so popular that he has brought out the crazies, people that live vicariously through him and nearly put him at a Godly status. They are vocal and are reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s fans in his prime, worshiping their favorite fighter. Their continual lashing out at any journalist that writes objectively has actually made the proposed fight with Floyd Mayweather, JR., that much more popular. Pacquiao is a national hero in the Philippines and he draws on that popularity from both the sane and the insane.

The other is Floyd Mayweather, JR., 41-0, 25 KO’s. Mayweather, JR., love him or hate him, is as smart outside the ring as he is inside of it. When he began his early career, he didn’t get a lot of attention, despite the domination of his opposition. He decided to look at boxing as a show and made himself a villain. “Money” Mayweather was born, a man that never got tired of talking about himself and always dismisses his opponents. He would then tap into a new demographic, participating in the Dancing with the Stars and having a “fight” with a 7 foot, 400 pound wrestler named “The Big Show” in WWE’s Wrestlemania. Typically, a guy with the style of a Mayweather, no matter how good, does not bring in the money that he does. Compare him to a Winky Wright. Wright, in his prime, was a great fighter with great defense and style, but not too many people cared. He could not sell the tickets that Floyd can and that is because Floyd is a great salesman.

Both Mayweather, JR., and Pacquiao represent the best boxing has to offer and have collectively removed others that have laid claim to that top spot. Pacquiao has defeated many of the top names in boxing, stopping Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Miguel Cotto. He has outpointed Juan Manuel Marquez and Joshua Clottey. He has earned his position as the number one contender to Floyd’s top spot.

Floyd Mayweather, undefeated and has made it look easy, beating up Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in his return, and also holding victories over Ricky Hatton, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Oscar De La Hoya, Genaro Hernandez, and Zab Judah. It’s laughable to hear that Floyd hasn’t fought anyone. His qualifications are equally as impressive as Manny Pacquiao. His time off from the sport did not take away from the fact that he is the man to beat. There is absolutely no question that he will be the favorite going into the super fight should it occur.

A Mayweather – Pacquiao showdown in November is the most likely scenario at this time and there are two fights that it has been compared to.

September 16, 1981: The Showdown

The biggest fight in boxing was found in the welterweight division. Knockout artist and WBA Welterweight Champion, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, 32-0, 30 KO’s, was an unbeatable force, winning his title with a second round demolition of Jose Cuevas in two rounds. His right hand was devastating and his height and weight were freakish for the division. Sugar Ray Leonard, 30-1, 21 KO’s, won his WBC Welterweight Title with a 15th round stoppage of Wilfred Benitez, lost it to Roberto Duran, and then regained it from Duran when he forced him to quit.

Leonard was seen as the boxer, while Hearns was the puncher, but the fight would see each man assume each role, and Leonard would come back from the brink of defeat with a stoppage of Hearns in the 14th round.

Mayweather – Pacquiao could resemble this fight. Pacquiao is the puncher and Mayweather, the boxer, but “Money” proved his willingness to stalk when he chased Shane Mosley around the ring. If he hurts Manny, he could move and attempt to use boxing skill rather than aggression to win the fight.

Although Mayweather – Pacquiao is a big fight, it has big shoes to fill to replace the Hearns – Leonard as the most memorable welterweight showdown.

The other fight that it is compared to in recent boxing history is the 1999 showdown between undefeated champions Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.

September 18, 1999

Two undefeated champions, both beating top competition and both with a large amount of fan support. Oscar De La Hoya, 31-0, 25 KO’s, the holder of the WBC Welterweight Title went head to head with the holder of the IBF Title, Felix Trinidad, 35-0, 32 KO’s, in a 12 round contest.

At one time, there were four welterweights of note, but De La Hoya and Trinidad eliminated them from the picture and were left with each other. Oscar beat Ike Quartey, and both De La Hoya and Trinidad were victorious over the great Pernell Whitaker. Another fighter that was in the top of the division at the time Oba Carr was also beaten by the two men involved in this super fight. This was the fight that the people demanded. Could Oscar take Tito’s punch? Could Tito deal with the boxing ability? The fans were drawn down the middle, and unfortunately, the fight did not live up to the hype…not even close.

De La Hoya used a “better safe than sorry” approach to the fight, moving and eventually turning into a run, hoping to achieve the early lead in the fight and win on the cards without getting damaged too much. Although many thought that he had won, I ended up giving it to Trinidad and so did the judges. The big losers were the fans that night.

Mayweather – Pacquiao should be a more explosive and fun fight than this one was, but in boxing you never know. I don’t think that we will get a Hearns-Leonard, but we shouldn’t get a De La Hoya – Trinidad either. A happy medium should be expected.

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