3 More Rounds

Bank or Bust: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Edition

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The fight the boxing world is finally set, as Manny Pacquiao will meet Floyd Mayweather on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After five years of off and on negotiations, we can now put the politics to rest, as, the two will once and for all determine who is the best fighter of this era.

With the announcement coming this past Friday, we gather two of our columnists – Ali Shakoor and Matt Knowles, to share their thoughts on the upcoming mega-fight in this special edition of Bank or Bust.

1. You believed that this fight would ultimately get made.

Matt Knowles: BUST – Honestly I’m still in shock. Never in a million years did I believe that the business machines behind each prizefighter would allow this contest to happen, considering how much revenue has been produced by each team against far less expensive opponents. Once I see each man enter the squared circle, on the same night, within a few minutes of each other, the reality of the situation will finally set-in. Until that moment, whether it occurs on May 2 or is delayed until Mexican Independence Weekend in September (remember where you heard it first), shock and awe will persist in my fight fanatic cranium.

Ali Shakoor: BANK– I thought it would get made, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen while both fighters were among the P4P elite.  I figured it would happen 2-3 years or more from now, for a pathetic cash grab while both fighters were washed up.  I’m pleasantly surprised that all parties were able to put egos aside, in order to give the fans and the sport such a meaningful fight.

2. Despite the fight coming five years after both fighters’ peak, you’re still as excited about the mega-fight as you were before.

Matt Knowles: BANK – I’m much more excited about the match today than I was in the past, for no other reason than with each passing year, the speculation and interest in the two athletes by the general public/media has grown by leaps and bounds. Both guys have become cultural icons during the timeframe of the Floyd vs. Manny debate, and their reluctance to face each other has added logs to the fire of desire with each passing year. Although this may not turn out to be the apex athletic exhibition it would have been 4-5 years back, the marketability of Mayweather vs Pacquiao as a can’t miss event couldn’t be any greater than it is is right now.

Ali Shakoor: BANK–  I’m still excited, because Pacquiao has stunningly altered his form in such a fashion as to still rank at the top of his division.  In 2009-10, he was a speed and power combination like I have never seen and I didn’t think his skillset would translate through his mid 30s.  Credit to Manny and Roach for tweaking a few things, boxing smarter, and still maintaining a bit of elite speed.  Also, with the current momentum the sport is undergoing with the Haymon time-buys, the emergence of an American heavyweight in Wilder, and the rise of GGG in a truly relevant middleweight division, this fight is just icing on the cake.  2015 is going to be a legendarily great year for this sport.

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3. At this stage in their careers, Mayweather has retained more of his powers than Pacquiao.

Matt Knowles: BANK – Floyd has never lost a professional contest, and has faced progressively more difficult competition as he has ventured into the 147/154 pound classes. Physically, he moves his feet quite a bit less than he did a decade ago, but he makes up for it with great upper-body movement and snappy reflexes. The counter right cross is still locked and loaded, and the shoulder-roll defense is still effective; Mayweather is still Money.

Excuse me for being the messenger of bad news, but the Manny Pacquiao Express that steamrolled through the 130-147 pound classes in ’08-’09 came off the tracks years ago. That’s right folks, the Bradley loss and the Marquez murder-blow occurred in 2012, and his subsequent victories came off as a mirage in the views of many (Rios and Algieri were no-hopers, and Bradley laid an egg in the rematch). Whether or not Floyd has truly peaked is debatable, but it goes without question that Pacquiao’s prime is in the rear-view.

Ali Shakoor: BANK–  That’s to be expected. He’s a genius in the ring when it comes to pure technique and he doesn’t have the drug and alcohol issues that ruined past greats in their 30s. I can’t compare him directly to Hopkins, who’s an anomaly, but he’s similar in the sense that his defensive wizardry and overall knowledge is transferable to later years in the sport.  Hell, in 2013 I think Floyd looked the best he ever has at welterweight.  The ridiculous scorecards aside, Floyd looked so dominate against Ghost Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez in 2013, that I could only shake my head at the possibility that Floyd was better at boxing than any professional was at anything in their respective fields.  In 2014, he clearly struggled against Maidana.  However, was that Floyd suddenly starting to show age and wear, or was it Maidana’s bizarrely awkward style and size, just serving as a bad “boogeyman” matchup for Floyd?  The answer to that question likely determines whether or not he can beat the Filipino great on May 2nd.

4. This PPV will shatter the De La Hoya-Mayweather PPV and do over 3 million buys.

Matt Knowles: BUST – This event will crush all financial records, but 3 million is a stretch Mr. Aranda.  There is a person within every group/network of sports fans who who has been dubbed  “The Guy Who Orders the Fights,” and the only question is which fights they will be ordering each year. For this circumstance, EVERY one of those “Guys” will be ordering Floyd v Pac, just like they did for Floyd vs. Canelo and Lewis vs. Tyson. If there were 3 million of those “Guys” in America, however, then we would have cracked the 3 million mark by now. Let’s also keep in mind that while this fight may be a bigger deal to fight fans and general sports aficionados than Oscar vs. Floyd was, everyone in America knew De La Hoya, while most folks can’t even pronounce Pacquiao (his own promoter has butchered it for a decade now). Early guesstimate: 2.75 million buys at roughly a $250 million take from the PPV receipts.

Ali Shakoor: BANK– Even though we’re in an era of PPV saturation, this event will do over 3 million buys.  It’s part of the American zeitgeist.  No sports fan, hardcore or casual, will want to miss this fight.  Nobody wants to miss a chance at being a part of history.

5. Mayweather has opened up at approximately a 2.5 to 1 favorite. You are in agreement with those odds.

Matt Knowles: BUST – This isn’t “bust” so much for the purposes of casino gambling; I believe that Vegas hit the mark with the right number out of the gate, which will generate a boatload of big-$ wagers on both competitors over the next 10 weeks. For the probability of Manny actually defeating Floyd, however, 2 1/2 to 1 odds is completely ridiculous. If these guys fought 50 times, Manny might win once. Seriously.

Ali Shakoor: BANK– That looks about right.  It will be interesting to see if that moves slightly in either direction, after the documentaries and overall promotion leading up to the fight

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6. Without necessarily giving your prediction just yet, you have not change your mind about who will win since the fight was first discussed in 2009/10.

Matt Knowles: BANK – My prediction has been the same ever since they appeared on an HBO card together in San Francisco back in 2001: Floyd 117-111.  Whether or not the boxing gods &/or Sin City power brokers allow this type of scorecard to occur is another story, as a 114-114 draw would be best for Vegas. That said, I have never once been under the belief that this style clash would produce any result other than a decisive points victory for Floyd Mayweather.

Ali Shakoor: BANK–  My prediction has not changed.  But the manner of victory has changed drastically in my eyes. Instead of a TKO or stoppage, I see an extremely close fight that will end in a controversial decision.  Not a robbery in a since that it’s an injustice that will damage boxing’s reputation; just a close fight that will create spirited debate about the winner and the score totals.

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