“But I always thought that somebody with fast hands – that throws punches in bunches and throws them in flurries – might not land on Floyd – because he locks up so well – he has the ability to leave Floyd there.”
One of the most astute analysts in the sport of boxing today is former Junior Welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi. He knows the sport inside and out, having won a world title with his excellent pugilistic skills and intelligence, despite lacking much power in either fist. It’s always a thought-provoking pleasure listening to Paulie Malignaggi break down a fight. And to hear him discuss Mayweather-Marquez-Pacquiao is no exception.
“Marquez is going to try to make the fight and come forward,” says the Magic Man from Brooklyn. “Floyd Mayweather can do both. Sometimes he stays in the pocket and makes the fight. Sometimes he goes in there and starts boxing. It (Mayweather vs. Marquez) can be a boxing fans fight – or it can turn out to be a one-sided whitewash for Floyd Mayweather. But it can definitely have spurts of action.”
Regarding Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, Malignaggi is still somewhat on the fence. “I want to see how Floyd looks against Marquez before I make a decision on that. Right now, if I had to call it, I think it’s a tough style match-up for Floyd Mayweather. I’m not saying he loses the fight, I think until Floyd Mayweather loses a fight, he has the right to be called ‘the favorite.’ Every time he steps in the ring, I think you have to make Floyd the favorite. If I had to make the call right now, the way I see Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, it’s a very tough fight. That’s a tougher fight than the Marquez fight – not to say that Marquez is a bad fighter. But styles make fights. Pacquiao presents the abilities to give Floyd problems. We’ll see. We’ll see. I’m not saying he beats him. Like I said, I want to see how Floyd looks against Marquez before I make up my mind.”
Asked if Marquez can be a good fight – or is just a handpicked business fight for Floyd, Malignaggi responds, “It could be a good fight, any time two guys get in the ring and are at this high of a level, it has potential to always be a good fight. Stylistically it has potential to be an explosive fight. But I think this is also a business fight. Floyd Mayweather is coming back. He needs a big name but also a warm-up at the same time.”
“If Floyd has problems with Marquez, I don’t see how much further he’s gonna move along. In my eyes, Marquez shouldn’t be competitive with Floyd Mayweather, just on skills alone. Then you add the fact that he’s a bit bigger than him just adds to the negativity on Marquez’s side. It’s not to say Marquez is a bad fighter, it’s just goes to show how good Floyd is and how much bigger Floyd is. But that’s why they fight the fights. We can prognosticate all we want. Those guys are gonna get in there. It can be a fans fight. But at the same time it has been a business-wise pick.”
You get the sense Malignaggi believes Pacquiao will be a much more stressful test for Floyd. Asked why he thinks the mighty Filippino can pose problems for Floyd, Malignaggi reveals some very interesting insights. “Ever since I watch Floyd Mayweather he gives you a defense where he locks up. And a lot of the time obviously it works for Floyd. Floyd is very hard to hit, regardless of the fact. But I always thought that somebody with fast hands – that throws punches in bunches and throws them in flurries – might not land on Floyd – because he locks up so well – he has the ability to leave Floyd there.”
Malignaggi’s analysis starts to fascinate. “And what I mean by that is, move your hands, step out, you leave him there. Throw punches, step out. Before you know it, Floyd, if he’s giving you all this, he never gets the chance to get back off. Because you’re in and out. And that costs you rounds. Through the course of Mayweather’s career, he’s always been faster than most of his opponents. But the fast guys that he did fight did show glimpses of it. Oscar showed glimpses of that. Zab Judah showed glimpses of that – that you can do that to Floyd. The problem is you very rarely will hit him clean. So I think these guys get frustrated and get away from that. But in the meantime, what they don’t realize is that they’re probably winning rounds because Floyd is not getting off. Pacquiao doesn’t have to change anything about himself. He fights that way naturally.”
“So I can see that being a problem for Floyd, especially as he gets older. So how will Floyd counteract that? [He might price himself out of ever having to fight Pacquiao, or blame Bob Arum, that’s how he might counteract Pacquiao. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.] Floyd is always good at pulling the trigger on time. When you want to get off, he pot shots you. Pacquiao wants to get off, he might run into a shot. Before you know it, Pacquiao can’t get off any more. He’s gun shy because he’s running into shots.”
“Floyd has the ability to pull the trigger on time. That kind of fight, at his age, after two years off, he beats Manny Pacquiao. But the reason I see it as a threat is because, being able to pull the trigger in that split-second time is the first thing you lose as you get older. That’s why that fight is a threat, in my eyes. Because Marquez doesn’t have that kind of speed and the ability to put together punches in bunches at that rate of speed. He puts punches in bunches – but not fast enough to bother Floyd. Pacquiao puts punches together in bunches at a speed high enough to bother Floyd. That’s why I see the risk in the fight.”
Malignaggi then credited Mayweather’s improvisational skills, which, as everyone knows, are exceptional. “There’s another thing you have to keep in mind about Floyd Mayweather, he always makes the right decisions as to how to adjust to you. When Mayweather has had problems in fights – and most of the time he doesn’t have problems with his opponents – he always makes an adjustment necessary to swing the fight back in his favor. That’s the extra intangible you have to keep in mind. That there might be an adjustment that he makes that I’m not putting out there. That’s why he’s Floyd Mayweather and I’m Paulie Malignaggi. You have to keep that intangible in mind. Whenever things aren’t going his way, there’s an adjustment he always makes. And that could be a little wrinkle in that fight. It’s a very interesting fight, I think it’s more interesting than this fight (with Marquez).”
“And like I said, it’s not to say Marquez is not good enough. But I think styles make fights. In a lot of ways that style of a fight presents a more competitive fight to Floyd Mayweather than does Marquez, strictly on the speed alone.”
Malignaggi again began to lean towards slightly towards Pacquiao. “A guy that wants to pot shot can’t pot shot you if they come in too fast. Floyd has made a career of always beating these Mexican guys. He will always beat these Mexican fighters. They’re a little slow, they give you daylight in between their punches. Floyd’s counterpunching skills and pot shots is gonna be able to slip punches in between those punches.”
“But somebody that comes so fast, not showing daylight between their punches. Guys like Judah did, guys like De La Hoya did early in the fight. You can’t put pot shots between those combinations. They’re coming too fast. Before you know it, you’re only on defense. When you want to get back on offense, the guy is leaving you there. You do that enough times in every round, what happens? You lose the round. I’m not saying they’re gonna stop him because Floyd is hard to hit. But you put yourself in a hole round-wise.”
Paulie Malignaggi’s intriguing analysis illustrates how a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather clash of styles would be an absolutely fantastic pugilistic showdown of two highly technical and successful champions matching wits against each other. For that reason, you have to wonder and maybe suspect that this dangerously risky super-fight might get ducked and dodged, like Lewis-Bowe, Cotto-Mayweather among others.