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Differences in Styles Make Fights: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Photo: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Photo: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Styles make fights. That’s the first thing you need to know about boxing.

That’s also the first reason why you need to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao on May 2.

Of course, there are a hundred more reasons after that, making this the biggest fight of the century. Yet, that prevailing logic in competitive combat or even sports in general seems like a drum banged on too much, mostly because an inordinate amount of the audience on Saturday night surprisingly dismiss the fight as just another fight. Or just another win for the pound-for-pound king.

That P4P, and PPV, king is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. And he has banged on his own drum with his own different beat and some people are marching to it: that he’s #TBE: “The Best Ever”, and his prevailing logic for that is his undefeated record.

The mythical best in the world distinction didn’t use to be solely owned by Mayweather: several boxing outlets for the past few years recognize both Mayweather and Pacquiao interchangeably as the No. 1A and No. 1B in boxing, in terms of both ability and star power. Mayweather and Pacquiao also used to own the best defense and best offense in boxing, no contest. The best boxer and the best fighter in the sport.

But it has been five years since the idea was floated around for a fight between the two biggest figures in boxing, and a lot has changed since then. Most notably, Pacquiao has gotten knocked the heck out and it is perhaps the greatest knockout of the decade.

Amazingly, Pacquiao was able to rise and return to his previous prominence, not quite to the same heights Mayweather now enjoys by himself, but enough to challenge for that again. And according to some, enough for Mayweather to finally consider such challenge– whether it is because of the fall or the rise.

Pacquiao bounced back as the second-best, pound-for-pound and in the welterweight class. Not everything is undisputed now, but no matter what Mayweather says at this point, Pacquiao remains to be the most viable challenger but no longer as threatening to his “0” as before.

The Filipino fighter is said to be no longer as fast or as powerful, but smarter and more complete by having since employed a more conservative style compared to his whirling dervish, Tasmanian devil, sonic the hedgehog ways of before. Couple that with the lack of KOs registered during the period, fans began questioning the lack of “killer instinct” from Pacquiao.

To many, this makes him easy pickings for the most masterful tactician of our generation. Mayweather might be jealous that Pacquiao was awarded as the best fighter of the 2000s, but he knows that Pacquiao can’t touch him on talent and skill. No boxer does. For Mayweather, Pacquiao may now be easier to read.

Of course, age has changed Mayweather and Pacquiao to uncertain degrees. One can make an argument that Mayweather too has slowed down and may have appeared beatable in his last couple of bouts. But there’s a difference between beatable and beaten: no one has given Mayweather the “one” on his record.

Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who temporarily killed all chances of their superfight, would tell you more than that: even before he hit Pacquiao with the perfect – not lucky – punch, he indicated Pacquiao’s predictability compared to his earlier version.

While everyone remembers Marquez’ modern saga with Pacquiao, Marquez’ shaming in the squared circle at the hands of Mayweather is far less memorable. When you remember that, though, remember the fact that the fight was quite a shame as well: the returning Mayweather forced Marquez to fight at a welter catch-weight of 144 from lightweight, then came in two pounds heavier, choosing to pay a $600,000 fine to his opponent rather than planning to make the agreed-upon weight. Mayweather absolutely disrespected Marquez in the pre-fight as much as in the fight itself.

That win has aged well in particular, as Marquez would go on to do well against Pacquiao in two fights at welterweight. On the second of that, he scored the aforementioned infamous knockout.

We remember now how Mayweather and Marquez went and we can’t ever forget how Marquez vs. Pacquiao ended.

So that’s it, we know what will happen with Mayweather and Pacquiao. No need to fight, right? This $400 million abominable spectacle is a huge mistake! Fans are getting shammed out of their hard-earned money! We are wasting everyone’s time trying to show this to the world as the greatest fight that can be made in boxing today!

Eenk (*buzzer*)! Wrong answer! The correct answer is: styles make fights.

If you’ve grown old with boxing, you should already know the holy trinity of boxing styles as you would know rock-paper-scissor. If you’re new to boxing, it is a boxer-puncher-slugger triumvirate and it is told through a pugilistic epic, based on a true story:

Foreman knocked the hell out of Frazier. Frazier went through hell with Ali. Ali beat Foreman.

How is that possible? That is the beauty of boxing, folks. Many more versions of this are scattered gems throughout the sport’s rich history, but that isn’t supposed to be new information.

This writer did not write anything spectacular in those last few paragraphs, but let me offer my take as I break down the fight in my own way. The boxing newbie might not know this, but the boxing oldies see that overall, boxing ability has eroded today from yesterday. This article does not implicate those veterans as curmudgeons, but let me counteract with the fact that overall, sporting athleticism has developed today from yesterday. Athletes may not be better boxers, but boxers are better athletes.

Positively or negatively, many boxers today probably work more on conditioning their bodies and less on improving technique, as boxing athletes try to find the balance and the most effective and efficient way to win. This can be connected to the emergence of the generic fighter on another combat sport: it is called the mixed martial arts, but MMA rarely showcases fighters from different disciplines nowadays– the differences in styles are not as pronounced.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is significant enough of a bout for a fan as me to resort to those sporting generalities in attempting to prove a significant point: the above assertions partially explain the reason why styles aren’t as obvious in boxing nowadays as well. Where are the boxers who focus on not getting hit? Where are the punchers who focus on hitting? Where are the sluggers who is fine with getting hit as long as he is able to hit?

Whether we like it or not, boxing is developing one way or another and the triumvirate of styles still serves as the fundamental blueprint in boxing, even if deviations can be made from the mean, especially to suit one’s savage instincts or primal intricacies. The skill and style in boxing is not dead– and you can see it in both Mayweather and Pacquiao. Boxing is not dead– and you can see it in Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

Both Mayweather and Pacquiao pretty much dominated all their common opponents, in their own way, but Marquez stands alongside them in a triangle for scoring an elusive win over side.

Yes, Marquez counter-punched Pacquiao to death and Mayweather is a great counter-puncher, but is Mayweather the kind of fighter who is willing to get hit in order to hit back?

Yes, Marquez hit Pacquiao with combinations and Mayweather puts his punches very well, but isn’t Mayweather the type to pot-shot with one-two shots instead of multiple punches?

Yes, Marquez knocked out Pacquiao with the perfect punch and Mayweather is as precise a puncher as there is, but has Mayweather knocked out anyone in similar fashion before?

Yes, Marquez seems to figure out Pacquiao and Mayweather has legendary fight-adjusting capabilities, but has Mayweather spent forty two rounds with Pacquiao in the ring?

In a near vein of comparison as we now center on the two boxers who will fight in the spotlight, consider the differences in styles with the same skill, the speed: both Pacquiao and Mayweather are fast– but they have different types of speed. Mayweather loads his speed to snipe targets quickly, while Pacquiao’s combos are blazing. Mayweather’s reflexes is still very much alive at this point and he reacts to them with swift movement, while Pacquiao utilizes his footwork unseen in all of sport. For years, Mayweather and Pacquiao are considered the two fastest in the sport, yet they use their speed differently.

The fights is doing big business and at this point, we have no business dismissing it. The Saturday night fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has the best that boxing has to offer, and it is the one you should tune in to if there’s anything worth watching in boxing. We don’t know what will happen, and our ideas as to what can happen only enhances the excitement, that’s why we pay to watch. But we should know we’re paying for the very best: two all-time greats in hopefully an all-time great encounter.

2 Comments

  1. Ramon Aranda

    May 2, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I cannot wait for tonight!

    • boodex

      May 2, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Spot on…and with your analogy of Foreman, Frazier and Ali, Mayweather defeated Marquez, Marquez knockout Pacquiao, and Pacquiao defeats Mayweather…Styles really make fights…

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