Why Manny Pacquiao should still fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.

December 11, 2012

How does the Pacquiao-Marquez 4 result impact Floyd Mayweather Jr.?  Does Saturday night’s knockout mean the final end for that possible fight ever taking place?

It shouldn’t.

Any reasonable observer will by now acknowledge that the Pacquiao-Mayweather blockbuster fight has been rapidly decreasing in luster for the past two years.  A potential $100 million payday for both fighters failed to ever materialize.  Even before Pacquiao’s knockout loss on Saturday most everyone realized that neither fighter was as good as they were three years ago.  If the two ever fought, it would simply be another high-profile fight.

But the fight should still be made, and it will still be a great event for boxing if it ever happens.  In fact, I more than ever hope it does.

To this point, some Floyd Mayweather Jr. fans are suggesting that Manny Pacquiao’s sixth round knockout defeat at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night makes the fight utterly irrelevant, since defeating Pacquiao would mean so much less for Mayweather’s legacy. This group somehow feels as though Pacquiao’s loss is further evidence of Floyd’s greatness.  As if a fighter’s greatness can ever be enhanced by not fighting opponents.

To put their logic in mathematical form:

Floyd Mayweather Jr. > Juan Manuel Marquez; (Floyd dominated Marquez for 12 rounds back in 2009.)

Juan Manuel Marquez > Manny Pacquiao; therefore

Floyd Mayweather Jr. > Manny Pacquiao

Put another way: Marquez’s knockout of Pacquiao, on top of his success in the previous three fights, proves that Floyd would have done just as well if not better against PacMan and therefore it was improper to ever have compared Manny Pacquiao to the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the first place.

Such an argument is absurd for any number of reasons.  The most obvious being that the transitive property in boxing (A beats B, B beat C, so A is better than C) is contradicted countless times. 

Some famous examples include:

(1) Muhammad Ali loses to Joe Frazier in 1971 and Ken Norton in 1973; and (2) George Foreman KO’s Frazier and Norton in 1973 and 1974; but (3) Muhammad Ali KO’s George Foreman in 1974.

More recently:

(1) Miguel Cotto defeats Shane Mosley in 2007; and (2) Antonio Margarito KO’s Miguel Cotto in 2008; but (3) Shane Mosley KO’s Antonio Margarito in 2009.

Nonetheless I will address this argument anyway just for kicks on the presumption it has some merit. First, let’s point out something based upon the newest evidence available after Saturday night’s fight.

One could now argue that Floyd’s defeat of Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009 means less now than it ever has.  That’s because welterweight Marquez of 2012 is clearly better than welterweight Marquez of 2009.  In fact, Marquez 2012 might knock out his uncomfortably heavy and slow 2009 incarnation.

The silly rock-throwing, urine-drinking training techniques which Marquez used to bulk up in 2009 were highly detrimental to Marquez effectively fighting at the higher weight.  Marquez simply did not look good going into that fight. He clearly has developed a much more impressive welterweight physique with increased speed and power.

Let me be clear.  I am not asserting that last Saturday night’s Juan Manuel Marquez would now beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.   Marquez would still have many of the same problems he had before.  Other than Marquez’s difficulty with quick and defensive-oriented fighters in general, there are still substantial size deficits that would always exist.   Mayweather is taller and would enter the ring with about a 15 pound weight advantage as well.  However, I am suggesting that Marquez would do better than before and that is something to consider.

Furthermore, these Mayweather supporters rarely acknowledge the reality that every other “common opponent” comparison between Pacquiao and Mayweather works to Pacquiao’s advantage.

 (1) Mayweather defeated Oscar De La Hoya via split decision in 2007.  Pacquiao never lost a minute as he destroyed De La Hoya via 8th round TKO in 2008.

 (2) Mayweather knocked out Ricky Hatton in 2007 in 10 reasonably competitive rounds when Hatton tried to move up to 147 pounds.  Pacquiao obliterated Hatton in 2 rounds at Hatton’s ideal weight of 140 pounds in 2009.

 (3) Mayweather had a dominant decision victory over Shane Mosley in 2010 after being hurt in Round 2.  Pacquiao was never hurt by Mosley and knocked him down in route to an even more dominant decision win in 2011.

(4) Pacquiao knocked Miguel Cotto down twice and scored a 12th round TKO in 2009.  Mayweather was less impressive in a clear unanimous decision in 2012.  (Austin Trout outpointed Cotto by an even greater margin than Mayweather did while fighting at Cotto’s de facto home arena in NYC earlier this month.)

All of this just goes to show that simplistic arguments about which great fighter is better than the other cannot be settled outside the ring.  Speculation about who would win a mega fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather has been rampant for years.  Now more than ever, the assumption is that Mayweather would defeat Pacquiao handily. Perhaps. 

But Pacquiao-Marquez 4 is a wonderful example of how great boxing can be when fighters do everything in their power to end speculation by actually fighting.

For huge fans of Juan Manuel Marquez (I consider myself one of them) Saturday night’s knockout was a culmination of the great and long-underrated career of a Mexican legend.  For pure Pacquiao haters (and this by no means includes all Floyd Mayweather fans), it was a gleeful opportunity to watch the Filipino fighter be “put to sleep,” “KTFO’d,” or “embarrassed” in the ring for the first time.

I wonder if the latter group realizes how Manny Pacquiao knowingly took an enormous risk by fighting Juan Manuel Marquez for a 4th time and what that really means about him.

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach openly acknowledged that he didn’t want his man to fight Marquez again as the Mexican fighter just seemed to have his number.  Yet, despite the prior controversial decisions, the fact was that he had never officially lost to Marquez in three fights.  Why not just move on to a less provably difficult opponent?

But the question still remained: Who was really the better fighter? Marquez had been by far the toughest test of Pacquiao’s career.  Pacquiao, in his gut, knew that this matter was unresolved regardless of what the judges said before. On Saturday night he aggressively came out to prove to the public and himself that he was still the top fighter in the game. 

Great fighters take great gambles. Some say Pacquiao paid too huge a price and that losing by knockout at nearly 34 years old made it a foolish decision.

I don’t.  I respect the hell out of such risk-takers in boxing.  I often wonder if Floyd Mayweather does.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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