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Pacquiao vs. Mayweather – Inside the Ring

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This coming May 2 maybe the most anticipated date in the whole boxing history, but it definitely is for the Philippines (or at least in my lifetime). The match-up many called inevitable is finally going to happen. After all the fancy, somewhat promotional, drama, intrigues, name calling and social media taunting; Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, two of the greatest boxers ever to fight in the professional arena are finally going face to face.

Now, I am just a fan and for no reason should my word be taken as an expert’s prediction. But, allow me to share some insights on the upcoming fight. Remember that this is not considering any existing conspiracy theories roaming the interwebs.

As the old boxing cliché puts it, “styles make fights”. Most experts agree that this one is going to be between the in-fighter Manny Pacquiao and the out-boxer Pretty Boy Floyd. That may have been the case if this fight happened 3 or 4 years ago. In case of Floyd, he’s style hasn’t changed much. He mostly stays outside and in the defensive, strategically timing his aggressions to dictate the rhythm inside the ring. But, in the case of Manny, he’s style has changed significantly. He’s no longer the simple swarmer we used to love watching.

Marquez – The Measure of Distance
Many will agree that Marquez may have been the greatest obstacle ever to stand in front of the Pacman. He’s combination of patient mental game and tenacious feinting exposed every weakness that Pacquiao never evidently showed before. We know how Pacquiao can be too aggressive and be lead into the opponent’s counter, but here’s something different and an even bigger weakness was revealed.

Pacquiao’s weakness is his wildness and impatience but his strength is his hand speed and powerful left that topples most opponents at one solid blow. Marquez found how to nullify this. He’s feinting drove Pacquiao’s rhythm to go haywire. A fighter’s rhythm dictates his power, speed and execution. Take it away, and what you have is a frustrated brawler with no game plan. This is exactly what Marquez did. By dictating the distance between them, he led Pacquiao into doing his most awkward lunging punches ever. Over extending himself drops the Mexican Destroyer’s reaction time and opens him up for that ever so sharp counter right from the Dinamita. The four part series showed how susceptible Pacquiao can be to feints, and how he drops his guard down after every three of four fake attempts.

However, in the fourth match between the two, some very significant improvements were observed in Manny. He didn’t suddenly become a Muhammad Ali, but his transitioning and how he opened Marquez’s defense up showed promise. This time, he was able to adjust and move to his left whenever Marquez switches and moves to his own left side. He however attacks on the same linear pattern like he used to. His defense on feints showed improvements as he didn’t seem to show frustration after a series of continuous feints. He did lose this fight though, but the footwork and hand speed he showed was better.

On the other hand, observing Marquez – Mayweather in 2009, shows us a very agile and sharp Floyd Mayweather. Being almost unaffected by the feints, he quickly dodges or parries jabs and two punch combos that the Mexican fighter tries to dish out. This may bring trouble to our Pambansang Kamao as Mayweather is well known for stopping flurries even before they start to gain momentum. Mayweather can be seen in a few instances during his fight with Marquez, as blocking or even holding off the Mexican fighter’s right arm during close encounters. Also, his presence of mind allows him to quickly adjust and dodge one-twos from Marquez with ease. When driven into a close fight, he leans to Marquez’s left to lessen the possibilities of getting hit with the right cross. His sharp jabs and straights stop his opponents’ combos and opens them up for his own.

The Pacman has his work cut out for him. He needs to learn some new tricks and he needs to learn it fast and good. His linear attacks should gain more angles and he should make use of his fewer punches in trying to open up Floyd. Floyd will not give him any weak points to start with. He needs to lure Floyd to a fight without wasting his flurries on Floyd’s gloves, shoulders and elbows. He also needs to stop lunging, especially with his left. He’s left straight should be paired with jabs and not as standalone attacks. This is a mistake he normally commits in most of his fights.

At the end of the day, Pacquiao’s weapon will be the way he closes in on Floyd. He needs to be quick with his defenses up, and punch only when close enough. Knowing Mayweather, he is likely to run back while letting off a jab or two. This won’t be too dangerous for Pacquiao if his defenses remain up and he could use this to perfectly time a counter. Different from his usual fights, it wouldn’t be the speed of his hands that would win the match but the speed of his feet.

On Floyd’s corner, he must focus on what he does best. It worked before, and if Pacquiao doesn’t bring anything new, the same strategy will work for him. It would probably work even better. Marquez waits for his opponent to make mistakes, for the perfect timing for the perfect counter cross. However Floyd, creates his own opening through his sharp jabs and taunting stances. His seemingly defenseless stance is always from a safe distance, with one of his legs behind him for quick dodging.

The Floyd who got cornered and tricked to moving into the ropes by Jose Luis Castillo barely exists in this present champ. Pacquiao would have to really dig deep and invest on training his focus. He has the speed, the power and stamina. What he needs is focus to react to the dynamics of Mayweather’s style.

The Fight Prediction
If you’re willing to trust a fan’s prediction of how this fight is going to go down, then read on. Remember that this author is not an expert but mainly just an observer with somewhat keen eyes.
The first part of the first round will definitely be explosive. Each fighter will surely put on a show in the beginning given the level of hype the match was built up on. After the showing off of power and speed for both, they will then proceed to the real match.
Pacquiao will try to keep Mayweather within attacking distance. While Floyd will work his jabs to put-off the Pacman’s rhythm. Mayweather wouldn’t probably feint as much as Marquez, but his sharp jabs and counter uppercuts will be dangerous for Manny. Pacquiao’s arsenal should include a better way of closing in on Mayweather without exposing his head for a counter.
Pacquiao’s lunging left straight will still show its nasty traces on the fight, and Mayweather will surely take advantage. Pacman will be focusing on Mayweather’s head just as he always does, although he should focus on the body. Mayweather Jr. showed us multiple times how body shots affect his game. Generally, body shots slow down fighters in most aspects. Maybe Pacquiao will try to incorporate more body punches on his game plan, but knowing how he losses focus when getting hit by quick 1-2’s, he most probably will launch more punches to the head.
Most experts foretell that Pacquiao’s flurry will be overwhelming for Mayweather, but I don’t think so. Pacquiao’s flurry will meet parry after parry. He’s advances will be met by counter jabs and short uppercuts. Pacquiao’s stamina will prove challenging for Mayweather, but he will quickly adjust and mess up Pacquiao’s rhythm with long ranged snappy jabs. Pacman’s 5-6 punch per flurry may be reduced to 2-3 punches. However, Mayweather will be too busy countering and dodging head punches that he will be hit by body punches every now and then.
In the end, it wouldn’t be the punch volume that will overwhelm Floyd, but the power. Many fighters attested to Pacquiao’s power. He may not always hit Floyd, but two to three punches are enough to slow him down. Mayweather will be exhausted come the late rounds. He will start getting hit in the face and ultimately lose to a split decision at the end of the bout.
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