By Ivan G. Goldman
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he wants Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to fight in his Texas stadium.
Maybe someone should inform him that he shouldn’t count his turnstiles before they turn, in case this particular fight never, ever happens.
The only element that’s changed this time is the insertion of CBS chieftain Les Moonves, a man, we are told, who can make things happen. Maybe. The key remains in the mind and heart of Mayweather, who must once again wrestle with potential risks and rewards of taking the one fight everyone except his most foolish fans wants him to fight.
The Big Showdown has been even closer to a done deal in the past, but the possibility looks strong enough this time to make it worth our while to try to deduce what we can from the two champions’ last outings. Although long in the tooth, they’re still probably the best welterweights out there (yet Manny tells us he’s not really a welterweight anymore, which is why he faced Chris Algieri at the catch-weight of 144, three pounds below welter).
Algieri and Marcos Maidana are both tough, flawed fighters. Pacquiao easily overcame an opponent Saturday who was overcautious, whereas Mayweather on Sept. 13 outfought a Maidana who was a little less overeager than usual, but still outclassed.
Algieri, losing every round, returned each time to a corner that seemed to think he was doing fine. Clearly the overriding goal of this crew was to reach the final bell. Victory was only a distant dream and fading fast. So he never changed tactics. Punched to the canvas six times (only five were legitimate knockdowns), Algieri never initiated a clinch. Not once. That was exceedingly strange.
Clinches provide safety, even when they’re executed with only mediocre skill. Does Algieri even have an inside game in his repertoire? Apparently not. He’s quick and clever, but already trying to escape as he throws his shot, so there’s just not enough on them to bother an effective aggressor like Pacquiao.
The Philippines Congressman showed at age 35 that he still has a punch, could call on blazing speed in spots, and he kept enough fuel in the tank to go even more rounds if he had to. Like all offensive fighters, he was a little too easy to hit, but he makes it work for him.
Maidana had a better night the first time he faced Mayweather, showing no fear and coming right at “Money” from the opening bell. This presented Floyd with something he just wasn’t used to.
In the September rematch, we saw the same wild and powerful Maidana from previous bouts, but he was more concerned with conserving his energy, and victory slowly moved beyond his reach.
Maidana has an inside game, and he used it, but Mayweather has a better one. In fact, if there’s a better inside fighter than Floyd, I’d love to know his name. There are times you could swear he has two elbows on each arm. Even resting on the ropes, he usually wins the exchanges.
Mayweather, now 37, has slipped some, but he’s still a handful, still the toughest opponent Pacquiao, 57-5-2 (38 KOs), could face. They’re both extremely quick, immensely skilled. Floyd remained under control in his last outing, while Pacquiao at times got overexcited and missed his target by a mile or got caught by shots he shouldn’t have been hit with. It’s a flaw that makes him more exciting.
Watching Mayweather, 47-0 (26 KOs), is more of a cerebral pleasure. You see a master who sticks and moves in what can be a super-quick blur.
There are varying opinions on who’s quicker, Mayweather or Pacquiao. The real answer is that neither throws at the same speed every time. Sometimes one is faster, sometimes the other. There’s only one way to really test this. But the outcome would be based on a host of other factors – strength, will, and intelligence among them.
One thing we do know is that there are no lucky shots. That’s why they train.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.