BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
Alright. If you’ve read my writing before, this is old news, but I am (or can be) a very biased writer. I love the great sport of boxing and it’s zany characters that define it. But when professional athletes cross the line, and hurt their chosen sport, whether it be football or (especially) boxing, it riles my guts.
So when people ask, “Hey Phil, who do you think is gonna win, Manny or Floyd?’ My heart always screams “MANNY!” But logic eventually taps me on the shoulder and my excitement subsides. When I stop and actually think about the fight, I dissect it and the end result isn’t all that spectacular for fight fans, and I hate it, but I have to share this pain with SOMEBODY so bare with my elderly dramatics you fantastic Boxing Insider readers and commenters.
In a brief nutshell, much like the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye drama, I’m thinking the build-up to Paquiao-Mayweather (providing it happens before this lifetime passes) will actually be more exciting than the fight itself. And it won’t be Manny’s fault.
Pacquiao has been an unbelievable ambassador for boxing, and his popularity is well deserved AND hard-earned. He is an assassin in the ring and an ultra-class act outside. He has fought the absolute best fighters in the world throughout his career, never ducking anyone and destroyed the supposedly indestructible along the way. He respects his opponents and respects the sport in unison; therefore he garners much-invested respect amongst fans across the map of the world.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
I can’t say the same about Mayweather. He has so-frequently urinated on this sport we all love so vigorously and often it’s disgusting. The very essence within much of today’s MMA popularity and boxing’s decline is the unmitigated fact that Floyd has not stepped-up to the plate and accepted a fight with Pac-Man.
Multiple alphabet organizations vs. one governing body aside, there’s one thing boxing is missing that MMA is providing: the best fighting the best, no matter what the weight. Pacquiao-Mayweather is presumably the fight that would help “legitimize” boxing again, at least for the sport’s casual fans. And honestly, it’s the casual fans the sport needs back. Diehard fans will usually shell out bucks for a PPV event, but the average sports fan probably doesn’t know half of today’s “marquis” fighters at all, so they don’t buy today’s fights. And that’s a damn shame. Mayweather can be directly blamed for blocking boxing’s most sought-after battle of modern times.
But here’s the catch; as I mentioned before, if this mega-fight actually ever occurs, there’s some things to consider, especially if you’re a Pacquiao advocate.
Photo: Taylor Hallman
Mayweather hasn’t fought since May of 2010. He has taken plenty time off during his brief “retirement” to allow his body plenty time to rest and heal. And perhaps Mayweather has done the smartest thing he could by doing that very thing.
While Floyd hasn’t thrown a meaningful punch since last summer, Manny has fought two-full-distance fights vs. Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosely respectively. Both fights were one-sided contests in favor of Pac-Man, but one has to wonder if Floyd hoped those 24-rounds of boxing might’ve taken something more out of Paquiao physically?
While it’s not terribly likely Pac-Man is any worse for wear, 24-rounds of boxing IS wear-and-tear on any athlete’s body, no matter how extraordinary they may be.
Manny’s fight with Shane Mosley was slightly revealing, and troubling for the Filipino in my eyes. Once Shane went on the defensive, Paquiao could not seal the deal because of Mosley’s still-semi-fresh footwork. So, common sense begs a question here:
If Manny could not catch-up to an old Shane Mosley and put him away, what would he do with a fresher, younger, and bigger Mayweather?
Yep. Mayweather, once again, like an on-going theme throughout his career, would be facing a smaller opponent in Paquaio. Sure Mayweather is only 2-inches taller than Manny, but his reach is longer, and he is a “true” welterweight. Where both fighters are guilty of ‘catchweight’ fights, Mayweather is still the naturally bigger man.
But in all reality, size isn’t the problem for Paquiao. It’s Mayweather’s hand and footspeed, mixed with his uncanny, baffling, fight-clogging defense.
Just watching Manny follow Shane around, round-after-round, winning these rounds mind you, but still struggling to slow his older foe down enough to stop him, made it a positive in my mind, that no matter what’s been said, Mayweather would be a nightmare match-up for Manny, not the other way around.
One could look at Paquiao’s fight with Antonio Margarito in the same light, another physical 12-rounder. Paquiao hit Margarito with every punch in the book. But Margarito style was tailor-made for a fighter of Manny’s caliber. His chin was always gonna be there to hit, and that was known directly after the contracts were signed, so it’s no surprise Margarito looked like a busted, over-ripe tomato after the fight.
Do not expect Floyd to be so accommodating. He will make a fight with Manny ugly and frustrating. Floyd could bend at the waist and turn his shoulder in a defensive posture all night long, and pot-shot when Manny comes in looking to land the right hook.
In other words, Floyd can easily make this fight look like a “Floyd” fight; defensive, cautious, tedious, boring. He can, and possibly could, spoil this event, because there’s no way he would risk getting KO’d, a la David Haye’s cautious performance, except with occasional success.
Even if Floyd were to rock Manny with a shot here and there as was the case with Mosley, the end result would be ultimately lame. Round-after-round of Paquiao stalking and Mayweather punching in singles off the back foot with his back to the ropes, then tying up strategically would get old fast, and hardly make for a classic. Mayweather has the footwork and lifelong boxing savvy to keep Paquiao spinning all night long. It will be the ultimate test for Paquiao to get inside of Floyd’s defensive island.
In the end, I hope I’m wrong. I really, really, really hope this fight gets made. And I hope Pac-Man wins! I don’t care if it’s by KO (although that would be sweeter!), just as long as he defeats Mayweather, for all that can be described as good in the world of boxing.
Get past Ortiz Floyd, and then make the fight!
We need it man…
PS- No way am I discounting young Victor Ortiz nor Juan Manuel Marquez. I wish them nothing but good luck. However, this article was written about the only fight that matters on the largest scale in boxing. So, no offense to Ortiz and Marquez. I hope the kid gives Floyd all he can handle and then some. Marquez is, and will always be a dangerous opponent style-wise for Paquiao, so never discount the Mexican warrior!
Philip H. Anselmo is a musician, vocalist, songwriter for such groups as Pantera, Down, Super Joint Ritual and Arson Anthem. You can keep up with Phil’s latest music production and going-ons, including his video interview with former New Orleans Saints star Jeremy Shockey at www.thehousecorerecords.com