Forget all the bickering between both camps, because none of it matters if and when Manny Pacquiao meets Floyd Mayweather Jr within the squared circle to duke it out for pride and glory…and a huge amount of money.
This article will give an in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses between both fighters, which highlights why so many casual and seasoned fans are so split when deciding who they think will win.
Neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather’s has fought any opponents quite like each other’s styles, so the least I can do is to make comparisons of opponents that pose the most similar fighting style. This is NOT a prediction by myself, it’s simply an analysis, so read on and enjoy!
Most Important Punches
Pacquiao’s Straight Left VS Mayweather’s Straight Right
As is the case with most southpaw vs orthodox fighters, the cross will likely be the most important punch of the fight. While Pacquiao’s straight left is a lot more powerful, Mayweather’s is more accurate, slightly quicker and more versatile in the way that it’s thrown.
Pacquiao often over commits with his straight left which will leave him open for Mayweather’s right hand over the top. Although he’s not easily deterred by missing punches, hard counterpunches could cause him to become hesitant.
There’s no doubt that’s he’s going to miss a lot with the left, as evident in his fights against good movers in Bradley and Algieri, so Pacquiao must use feints to time where Mayweather’s head will be, and also to time the straight left with his jab or left hook, a move that Pacquiao has demonstrated with great effect in the past. The problem is, Mayweather’s jab is a lot more difficult to time.
Although nowhere near as powerful, Mayweather’s sharpshooter straight right is accurate and has good snap on it. He’s also more versatile at setting it up by:
- Pull Counter – Pulling back his head from a jab and quickly throw the straight right, though this is difficult to pull off against a southpaw.
- Counter Over the Top – As Pacquiao misses with his straight left, Mayweather will be looking to counter over the top with his right.
- Timing the Jab – The same move that Pacquiao utilizes, Mayweather can too by throwing his straight right while Pacquiao is throwing his jab.
Pacquiao’s Jab VS Mayweather’s Jab
The jabs of both fighters will play a key role in this fight. However, there will be no jabbing contest since Pacquiao uses his jab very unconventionally and Mayweather usually doesn’t throw the jab with any real authority on southpaws, as it’s often used to set up his right hand instead.
When analyzing Pacquiao’s jab, it’s quick and can stun fighters because he throws it when his opponents are out of position, often catching them off guard. He also likes to use it as a range finder and to lure his opponents out of their defensive shell.
However, the type of jab that I believe will cause Mayweather the most problems is Manny’s power jab. The one he throws immediately after the straight left, and he loves to throw that a lot.
It’s quick, straight, unexpected and can travel a fair distance since Manny lunges in with it.
Floyd doesn’t really throw or land the jab with authority against southpaws. That doesn’t mean that it’s not effective, but it’s most effective in setting up his straight right. He’s going to paw with it, he’s going to jab to the body and he’s going to leave it out there as a range finder in order to find an opening to throw his straight right.
This may be a problem for Floyd because you cannot stop Pacquiao coming forward by using a weak jab, so Mayweather would have to neutralize Pacquiao’s offense with his right hand and footwork.
Mayweather’s Check Left Hook
The infamous check left hook by Mayweather involves throwing the lead hook while pivoting on the lead foot to swing the rear leg 180 degrees around to get out of the way of the oncoming opponent. Mayweather will likely attempt to utilize this against Pacquiao who sometimes attacks in straight lines and leaves himself open for a straight right hand or left hook.
Although Mayweather will probably find a little success landing the check left hook, I don’t think it’ll play a big role if this fight were to happen because Manny is hard to time and Mayweather will likely be too much on the defense much of the time that Pacquiao is on the attack. He also hasn’t demonstrated that he can land it effectively and frequently against other southpaw opponents in Judah, Ortiz or Guerrero.
The clip against for this example is of Mayweather landing a check left hook just off the top of Guerrero’s head, and spins off the ropes. The punch doesn’t land hard enough and Mayweather also gets his leg tangled with Guerrero’s while spinning out, someone that is quite common with opposite stances.
Pacquiao’s Feints and Angles
The subtle feints and the crazy angles will pose a serious problem for Floyd, like it has done all of Pacquiao’s other opponents. Marquez was able to handle it because they fought each other 4 times, and plus, Marquez is an aggressive counterpuncher.
The question is, how long will it take Mayweather to adjust to the feints and angles of Pacquiao? The easiest solution for this is to not be range when Pacquiao has an angle on you otherwise he’ll catch you with punches that are hard to avoid. As for the feints, Mayweather needs to be able to read it and not fall for it (easier said than done), or make Pacquiao miss because the more impatient he misses, the less he feints and the more wild he gets.
Pacquiao’s High Activity VS Mayweather’s Economic Output
Pacquiao is known for his relentless pressure and Mayweather is known for his passive stick and move style. Both are effective in their own right, but which one is more effective against each other’s style?
For those that think that Manny cannot win on points, I have to disagree, because he can outwork Floyd, who can and probably will make Manny miss a lot, Manny is never discouraged. There’s no doubt that Manny will be willing to throw 5 punches to land just 1 while Floyd will be content to throw 1 or 2 punches at a time (which by the way, can miss).
Sure, Floyd will potshot here and there, but will that be enough to put a halt to Pacquiao’s spontaneous and frequent attacks? Take for example Mayweather’s rematch with Maidana, who he had to resort to excessive clinching and moving to neutralize Maidana’s aggression and activity. Will the referee allow this to happen if Pacquiao were to fight Mayweather?
Pacquiao’s Punching Power VS Mayweather’s Accuracy
The equalizer in any fight is power, if you are blessed to have it. Pacquiao’s power has been described as more of a super quick and hard snap rather than a slow thudding blow. This is precisely the type of power that’s needed when facing Mayweather, who has been able to handle the power of heavy handed fighters such as Ortiz and Maidana. But fighters with speed and power such as Judah and Mosley, he’s had trouble with.
Mayweather is credited as being the most accurate puncher in boxing according to Compubox stats. He is able to achieve this feat by picking his punches carefully. He can also turn it up when necessary but those moments are few and far between. Those are also the moments where he can be made to miss, as Maidana proved.
I don’t think that Mayweather can pot shot his way to victory against Pacquiao. If he wants to win, he needs to turn it up and back Pacquiao up at the right times, otherwise, there could be a chance that Pacquiao will just overwhelm him with activity. In this strategy, Mayweather must expect to throw and miss more punches than the norm, which he’s capable of.
Who Has the Faster Hands?
Mayweather has already experienced the speedy southpaw in Judah, but the thing about Pacquiao’s hand speed that’s going to cause Mayweather the most problems is the sequence of straight fast punches, most notable the straight left followed by the power jab.
On the other hand, Pacquiao has never faced anyone that is as fast as Mayweather. The closest is probably Timothy Bradley, who doesn’t have the reach and accuracy that Mayweather has, but was still able to tag Pacquiao with right hands consistently.
Nevertheless, I believe that hand speed won’t be a major deciding factor on the fight. I think that they’ll both adjust to each other’s hand speed early in the fight, and have to rely on other tools to get the job done.
Mayweather’s Shoulder Roll
The shoulder roll is a technique designed to deflect and defend against punches thrown from conventional angles by orthodox fighters. This means that it doesn’t always work on southpaw fighters let alone a quick fisted unconventional southpaw in Pacquiao. The fast southpaw’s straight left will be there to land right down the middle if Mayweather attempted the shoulder roll in a stationary position.
Mayweather knows this, which is why he rarely adopts the shoulder roll against southpaws. Instead, his best defense against southpaws is to use his feet to keep distance. The problem with this is that Pacquiao has very fast feet too (see below). The likes of Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz (both southpaws) were never able to land consistently enough because they both have slow footwork and often throw slow looping punches.
The most notable southpaw that has been able to land on Mayweather is Zab Judah. Though he’s not known for having quick feet, he has very fast hands and has a very effective straight left, which he was able to land several times against Mayweather. The problem with Judah is that he’s not very active and mentally fades down the stretch, none of which can be said of Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s In/Out Movement and General Defense
Contrary to what some people think, Pacquiao does have a defense. You cannot compete at elite level without defensive abilities, and Pacquiao’s main defense consist of his in and out footwork. He will finish his attack and bounce out of range, and when he’s backed up, he moves his head while circling out of the way.
Pacquiao also does a good job of keeping his hands up when necessary. When he’s looking for an opening, he would often slip his head to the left and right which he also uses as a feint. The spontaneous foot movement, the head feints and slipping causes immense problems for Pacquaio’s opponents because in order to hit him hard enough to get his respect, you really need to be committed, which of course, opens yourself up to punches.
The reason why Pacquiao gets hit more than he should is because he gets wild especially when he senses a wounded animal. He also reaches with his punches a lot, and Mayweather who is a master counterpuncher, will take advantage of this. I see Mayweather being able to consistently land the straight right when Pacquiao overreaches and misses with his left. The question is if he can land it hard enough to tame Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s Offensive Footwork VS Mayweather’s Defensive Footwork
Ask yourself, is Mayweather’s feet fast enough to maintain distance between himself and Pacquiao at all times? The answer is no, simply because Pacquiao’s footspeed is quick enough to close the distance. Maidana, who has deceptively quick feet, managed to do it, so why wouldn’t Pacquiao, who has quicker feet be able to?
Manny’s most recent foe, Chris Algieri, displayed the ability to stay on his toes all night but Pacquiao still managed to catch him. Mayweather likes to get on his toes against come-forward pressure fighters, but can no longer sustain it for the entire fight against a highly active fighter. Unlike Algieri, Mayweather knows how to hold the center of the ring especially when preparing an attack.
Though I do believe that Mayweather has the more fluid and quicker feet, I believe that Pacquiao can and will catch him more frequently than anyone else has been able to simply because of his ability to close the distance so fast.
Other Factors That Come Into Play
Who Has the Better Chin?
Both fighters have had their chins tested, Pacquiao more so, but at this stage, Mayweather has yet to suffer an official knockdown in his career let alone a knockout. Pacquiao has suffered 3 knockouts in his career, 2 of them came over 15 years ago, while the most recent was in 2012 at the hands of Mexican great, Juan Manual Marquez.
It’s safe to say that Mayweather should and probably does have the better chin. Despite the knockout, Pacquiao still has a good chin but he’s more vulnerable than before. Even Bradley, who is a non-puncher, managed to rock Pacquiao in their rematch last year.
Though he’s not really a puncher, Mayweather can still hit harder than Bradley, so he’ll be able to hurt Pacquiao. However, hurting Pacquiao is one thing, and knocking him out is another story. Plus, Mayweather’s not really a finisher anyway.
It works both ways, since it’s pretty obvious Pacquiao can hurt Mayweather if he lands flush, and if hurt enough, Pacquiao will undoubtedly try to finish him. Again, Mayweather has never been stopped and it’s very hard to land more than one punch on, so I don’t see Pacquiao being able to get the stoppage.
Who Is More Battled Tested?
Manny will be looking to make it a war, and Mayweather will not oblige, though he may not have a choice. If it does end up becoming a toe-to-toe battle, which I don’t think it will, then technically Manny should do better since he has a lot more experience in this area.
Of course, Mayweather knows this and it’s not in his nature or best interests to fight this way, so he’ll be looking to outbox Pacquiao. The closest thing in recent years that resembled a true battle for Mayweather was the first Maidana fight because he forced the action. And no, it was not out of choice that he decided to get “toe-to-toe” with him. He was simply left with no choice.
Who Can Make the Adjustments?
We’ve all seen Manny fight one way throughout entire fights, and that’s coming forward. He’s never had to make adjustments for many of his fights because an unorthodox style of non-stop aggression and speed was enough to beat most fighters.
As soon as he stepped in with boxers that could make him stop and think, he had a difficult time dealing with such as Marquez. Even the second Bradley fight was close for the first 6 rounds until Bradley slowed down. There’s no doubt that Mayweather will make Manny think and give him different looks throughout the fight. Will he be able or even need to make adjustments to his existing attacks?
A true masterful boxer that is Mayweather has shown the ability to make adjustments out of necessity. He was losing the first few rounds against Zab Judah until he made adjustments and took over the rest of the fight.
Against Jose Luis Castillo and Maidana, Mayweather only adjusted in the rematch, though not without help from the referee in the second Maidana fight. How long will it take for Mayweather to adjust to Pacquiao’s feints, angles, speed and footwork?
If this fight were to happen, Floyd Mayweather Jr would rightfully be the slight favorite to win. That would make Pacquiao the underdog, a position that he hasn’t been in probably since the Oscar De La Hoya fight in 2008. That has to give him even more drive knowing that he’s the underdog.
Though there are some media and fans that swear up and down that Mayweather will make easy work of Pacquiao, or Pacquiao will destroy Mayweather, I actually think it will be a closely contested high speed battle which will go to the scorecards. If this is the case, we all can expect a rematch.
I won’t give a prediction on this fight as it hasn’t happened yet (and may never), but please feel free to give your opinions in the comments section below!
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