By Daniel DeMarco |Copy Editor|
It happened. Sports history took place on the night of May 2.
It was a night
hosting one of the biggest prizefights of all time—certainly the most financially successful prizefight ever seen.
After some six years of speculation, uncertainty, and anticipation, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao stepped into the ring for 12 rounds of boxing.
This was a major title-unification fight, yes, but more so, this was the fight to finally settle the question of who really is the pound-for-pound, number-one fighter in the world.
Going in, Mayweather was almost universally regarded as number one and Pacquiao as number two.
The intrigue arose because the common thought was if anyone could give Mayweather a tough fight, if anyone could give Mayweather problems, if anyone could finally give him a loss, it was Pacquiao.
This was certainly my thought going in; Pacquiao was really the only realistic threat left (I know Mayweather hasn’t fought Amir Khan yet, but I don’t think Khan would be able to get it done. Like many of Mayweather’s opponents, Khan is among the best boxers today, but he is not an all-time great like Pacquiao.)
Mayweather and Pacquiao set up a fascinating clash of styles: it was the all-classic match-up of the quintessential defender and the extraordinary attacker.
All of the elements for a highly-skilled well-matched fight were present.
You had Mayweather’s uncanny ability to make opponents miss and you had Pacquiao’s flurries of punches that overwhelmed opponents.
You had Mayweather’s textbook-footwork to accompany his defense and you had Pacquiao’s slippery footwork that helped him set up awkward angles and produce blitzes of attack.
You had Mayweather’s pinpoint punches and you had Pacquiao’s big punching power.
You finally had a situation where neither guy (at least we thought) seemed to have the speed advantage over their opponent.
And just to throw in some extra flavor to the concoction, you had the orthodox-versus-southpaw element; would Mayweather have trouble with a left-handed opponent like he had sometimes had in the past?
Well, we got our answers to how this clash of styles would play out and Mayweather came out comfortably on top.
I kept a personal scorecard of the fight and here’s how I scored it:
Round one: 10-9 Mayweather
Round two: 10-9 Mayweather
Round three: 10-9 Mayweather
Round four: 10-9 Pacquiao
Round five: 10-9 Mayweather
Round six: 10-9 Pacquiao
Round seven: 10-9 Pacquiao
Round eight: 10-9 Mayweather
Round nine: 10-9 Mayweather
Round 10: 10-9 Pacquiao
Round 11: 10-9 Mayweather
Round 12: 10-9 Mayweather
Final Score: 116-112 Mayweather
To say it plainly, Mayweather controlled the fight and imposed his will better than Pacquiao did. Mayweather made Pacquiao fight a Mayweather-style fight.
Of course, during and after the fight, moans and groans flooded social media and living rooms. Complaints of “Mayweather was just running,” “Mayweather was just hugging,” “Mayweather didn’t really fight Pacquiao,” amongst others
spread like wildfire.
It should be apparent that these are the same kinds of people who say they like football and watch it once a year around February.
That’s to be expected too, this was arguably the biggest fight since Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought in 1971; a lot of people were watching and the significant majority were people who don’t watch boxing
are fights where there’s too much clinching. Mayweather’s previous fight is an example of this if they want to criticize him.
When Mayweather fought Marcos Maidana for the second time Mayweather plainly employed
too much clinching and I fully concede that. The second-half of the fight, especially, was boring and Mayweather was to blame.
Against Pacquiao though, Mayweather did not use the clinch even close to as much as one might expect when fighting an offense-machine like him.
As for running, Mayweather stayed in the pocket a lot more than I expected him to. But really what this all comes down to is a fundamental misunderstanding and/or ignorance of how boxing works.
Mayweather is a defensive boxer: he is supposed to avoid punches; he is supposed to suppress his opponent’s game; he is supposed to keep it technical, and quite frankly he is amongst the greatest of all time to employ this style.
Post-fight punch stats show us all we need to know.
81 out of 429 punches against Mayweather. Looking back at his three previous fights, one can see the significance of this.
Against Chris Algieri in November 2014, Pacquiao landed 229 of 669.
Against Tim Bradley for a rematch in April 2014, Pacquiao landed 198 of 563.
Against Bradon Rios in November 2013, Pacquiao landed 281 of 790.
Compared to even the lowest numbers of his last three performances, Pacquiao landed less than half of that and threw over 100 punches less.
Mayweather landed 148 of 435 against Pacquiao.
Against Marcos Maidana in their rematch in September 2014, Mayweather landed 166 of 326.
Against Marcos Maidana in May 2014, Mayweather landed 230 of 426.
Against Saul Canelo Alvarez in September 2013, Mayweather landed 232 of 505.
One can see
Mayweather also showed his least impressive performance against Pacquiao, though his numbers admittedly did not drop quite as much.
We should expect to see lower stats in fights like this. When two great fighters meet, we should not see the same numbers of thrown and landed punches that we see with them facing lesser-caliber opponents.
In the end, it is the one who was closest to their previous performances that will most likely be the winner. In this case it was Mayweather.
If all Mayweather
did was hug , run , and not engage with Pacquiao, how did he land 67 more punches than Pacquiao, and throw six more total? It simply does not add up.
I know I speak for a small minority, but I thought the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was great; it was what it was supposed to be: a battle of styles between two elite boxers who truly respected one another to see who was number one.
It wasn’t a brawl or a war, and it wasn’t supposed to be. It wasn’t an all-time classic fight, and although it could have been, it wasn’t expected to be.
This was a fight meant to be appreciated for the nuances, not the action.
It was the chance to see the two best boxers of the last decade fight each other.
It was a historical night
worth the time and money to see. The many who disagree probably should not be watching boxing in the first place, or went in with unjustifiable expectations of what the fight was going to be.
Perhaps, just maybe, we will be lucky enough to see a rematch.
As incredible as it was to watch them finally compete against each other, it should be just as intriguing to see how they would adapt after having fought once and see greatness clash with greatness once again.