Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Doing the Math

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↵We ↵are fickle people, us boxing heads, and now, having worshipped at the ↵altar of Manny Pacquiao for most of the year, we find ourselves in a ↵place that few anticipated. I certainly did not. I went into the ↵Mayweather/Marquez fight confident that Floyd would win and that he ↵would do it convincingly. I did not, however, for a moment expect that ↵he would do it so convincingly that in the aftermath we would ↵have reason to doubt whether we were even interested in a ↵Mayweather/Pacquiao superfight at all.
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↵But that is where we are. ↵Whether you buy it or not, there's at least an argument to be made on ↵that score, and it's being made all over the internet. Pacquiao fought ↵Marquez twice and both times they were essentially ties. In the first ↵fight Pac scored three touchdowns in the first two minutes of the game ↵and Marquez came back to tie the game with a series of field goals over ↵the next 58. In the second fight, they matched each other touchdown for ↵touchdown the entire game and according to the judges Pacquiao kicked a ↵field goal with time running out. All we can conclude from this is that ↵the two teams are dead even.
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↵This past Saturday night, Floyd ↵beat up on Marquez like the Niners beat the Chargers that one Super ↵Bowl where Steve Young threw about nineteen touchdown passes to Jerry ↵Rice and assorted members of Jerry Rice's family. He beat Marquez like ↵the Steelers playing a Div 1-A team.
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↵And ↵so, by the commutative property, this equation is now on the table: ↵Mayweather > Marquez (by like infinity), Marquez = Pacquiao (give or ↵take), therefore Mayweather > Pacquiao (by like infinity).
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↵Even ↵taking into account the weight issue, I still think it's reasonable ↵that people are drawing such a conclusion. The only concrete way we ↵have to assess fighters who haven't fought each other is to look at how ↵they've done against similar opponents.
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↵But if we're going to do ↵that, we have to bring the same method of inspection to Floyd and ↵Manny's other two common opponents, De La Hoya and Hatton.
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↵Hatton ↵to my mind is a push. Yes Pacquiao blew him out of the arena, but that ↵is the way Pacquiao fights. Floyd never blows anyone out of the arena. ↵I have a feeling that if Floyd were fighting, I don't know, Alfonso ↵Gomez, he would take a couple of rounds to get his rhythm. Floyd ↵dominated Hatton and then knocked him out with a devastating shot. That ↵Pacquiao did it quicker does not earn him any style points in my book.
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↵De ↵La Hoya, however, is a different story. It is without question that ↵Oscar gave Floyd some problems, particularly early in the fight. Those ↵problems to my eyes were merely a question of Oscar's size. I don't ↵remember the unofficial weights that night, but I do recall that the ↵fight looked like a middleweight fighting a welter. And I remember ↵seeing a look in Floyd's eyes early on that I haven't seen there very ↵often, a look not of fear exactly, but definitely of concern. Oscar was ↵jumping on him and trying to mug him in there with his sheer mass, and ↵the advantage that he had in the mass department made it briefly seem ↵like it might be a doable venture.
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↵Of course, it wasn't in the ↵end. Floyd got his bearings, and Oscar lost heart, wearied of chasing ↵Floyd around and eating potshots as his reward for trying to close the ↵distance. As I wrote at the time of the fight, "at the very point at ↵which Joe Frazier used to SERIOUSLY start to stalk his prey, Oscar ↵effectively gave up." He got himself a split decision for his efforts ↵that I thought was highly dubious - I don't have my scorecard on hand, ↵but in my memory I scored it 8-4 in rounds for Floyd, and I thought I ↵was being generous to Oscar with that.
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↵Pacquiao, though, needed ↵no scorecards with De La Hoya. He blew him out of the arena too, ↵embarrassed him, made him quit on his stool and then made him quit ↵forever.
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↵The disparity between Manny and Floyd's performances ↵against Oscar is not quite so great as the one between their ↵performances against Marquez. But they're definitely in the same ↵ballpark. And if, as I am inclined to do, one is going to explain that ↵disparity away for one fight based on the weight issue, then we have to ↵be prepared to do the same for the other. I fully believe that Floyd ↵had a tougher time with Oscar than Pacquiao did because he was fighting ↵him at a weight at which Oscar was comfortable. I am quite sure that if ↵Floyd had fought the version of De La Hoya that Manny did at 147 (or in ↵Oscar's case 145) pounds, he would have schooled him like he did ↵Marquez.
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↵But there is no question that the same is true of the ↵Marquez comparison. Pacquiao had more troubles with Marquez because he ↵was fighting him at the weight that Marquez's body is right for. What ↵would happen if the 130-pound Mayweather of ten years ago fought the ↵130-pound Marquez of March, 2008? Well, it's hard to say. I tend to ↵think that Floyd would still win, and still win pretty easily. I just ↵think Marquez sets up very well for him irrespective of weight. But I ↵certainly think it would be a closer contest than the one we saw ↵Saturday night.
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↵Finally, we have to face the fact that the ↵boxing commutative property never has been anything but a parlor game, ↵and is far, far from being an immutable law. We have recent, shocking ↵evidence of this in the sequence of Margarito > Cotto, Cotto > ↵Mosley (barely) and therefore… no. It didn't work out. Mosley > ↵Margarito (by a lot) and we're back to the drawing board.
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↵Then ↵there's the most famous example of the flawed equation: Frazier = Ali, ↵Foreman > Frazier (by a LOT) and therefore… The Rumble in the Jungle ↵and the world-shocking and whatnot.
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↵Still, I think even if we're ↵going to play the commutative property game with Mayweather and ↵Pacquiao right now, we have to have longer memories and consider De La ↵Hoya as well as Marquez as our test examples. If we deem one of these ↵cases to be invalid due to questions of weight, then we must do the ↵same with the other.
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↵Where it comes out, for me, is that I'm ↵still VERY interested in Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, granted of course ↵that Pac beats Cotto, which maybe we are right in thinking today is ↵even a bigger "if" than we did a week ago. That said, if Pac does beat ↵Cotto, however he does it, the Mayweather fight will seem even more of ↵an imperative. Shane Mosley makes a compelling case on his own behalf ↵for the Floyd fight, and he may be able to beat either Pacquiao or ↵Mayweather. I myself think how he would fare against Pacquiao would ↵depend on the weight - 140 seems to me too low for a 38-year-old man ↵who has looked more than comfortable in the past at 154. Mayweather… ↵right now I admit that I think Mayweather could handle Sugar Shane with ↵conviction.
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↵But here's the fact - Pacquiao and Mayweather are ↵the two biggest names in the sport and the two guys that are vying for ↵the pound-for-pound title out there in the world. Mayweather is ↵undefeated. Pacquiao is on a breathtaking run of dominance. In ↵conclusion, though I see why many are balking at the matchup in the ↵aftermath of the Mayweather/Marquez rout, I'm still very much of the ↵opinion that the most interesting fight in boxing right now is Pac and ↵Money, and I very much hope it happens.
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↵Provided, of course, that Pacquiao beats Cotto…↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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