By: William Holmes
The fight that everyone has been waiting for will finally take place on May 2nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao meet to unify the WBC, WBA, and WBO Welterweight Championships.
Three fights are currently scheduled to be on the pay per view telecast. In addition to the main event, Top Rank’s Vasyl Lomachenko, the WBO Featherweight Champion, will put his title on the line against Galamlier Rodriguez and Al Haymon’s prized featherweight Leo Santa Cruz will be facing off against Jose Cayetano.
The following is a preview of all three televised bouts.
Vasyl Lomachenko (3-1) vs. Galamlier Rodriguez (25-2-3); WBO Featherweight Title
Vasyl Lomachenko is perhaps the best one loss boxer to hold a world title.
He’s a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and won the gold twice in the World Amateur Championships. He’s considered by many to be one of the best amateur boxers ever.
Rodriguez doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Lomachenko, but he has held regional world titles in the featherweight division and he has been competing as a professional for nearly nine years.
Lomachenko will be giving up about an inch-and-a-half in height and four inches in reach to Rodriguez, and both are still in their athletic primes.
Lomachenko was challenged as a professional immediately as he defeated a 25-3 Jose Ramirez in his first professional fight and challenged Orlando Salido for the WBO Featherweight title in his second professional fight. Salido, a rugged veteran who knows all the tricks of the trade, came in overweight and fought a rough and rugged fight to win a close, and controversial, split decision.
But Lomachenko was able to recover from that loss and outclass a very good Gary Russell Jr. in the next bout and he followed that up with a wide twelve round decision with only one hand over Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in his very next bout.
Rodriguez’s biggest wins have come against Orlando Cruz, Rafael Tirado, and Alicio Castaneda. His two losses came earlier in his career when he lost to David Rodela and Juan Garcia in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
This should be an easy fight for Lomachenko, as Rodriguez will not be able to match the pure boxing ability of his opponent.
Leo Santa Cruz (29-0) vs. Jose Cayetano (17-3); Featherweights
Unfortunately for fight fans, this fight will repeats a common theme on the undercard: a good, talented, young boxer facing off against an opponent with little to no chance at beating him.
Leo Santa Cruz is one of Mexico’s best boxers currently fighting and he has never been defeated. He won the world amateur championships at the age of fifteen and he has a significant amateur experience edge over Cayetano. Leo Santa Cruz also has a significant edge in power over Cayetano. He has stopped seventeen of his opponents while Cayetano has only stopped eight.
Cayetano has spent his entire career fighting in Mexico, and this will be his first fight in the United States. He has only won two of his last four fights, including his last fight against a seven loss Enrique Bernache. He has no significant or notable victories.
Santa Cruz has stopped three of his past five opponents, and his resume includes wins over Jesus Ruiz, Manuel Roman, Cesar Seda, Victor Terrazas, Eric Morel, and Alberto Guevara.
Of all the fights on the undercard, this appears to be the biggest mismatch. Anything less than a stoppage victory or a near clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards will be considered disappointing for Santa Cruz.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0) vs. Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2); WBC/WBA/WBO Welterweight Titles
If you were a fan of boxing in the past fifteen years, you probably don’t need a preview for this fight. It has been discussed ad nauseam for the past six years and most fight fans already have an idea on who they think would win.
Most would agree that neither fighter is in their athletic prime. Floyd Mayweather is thirty-eight and it’s apparent that his legs don’t allow him to be as nimble around the ring as he used to be, and Manny Pacquiao is thirty-six and he doesn’t have the devastating power that he used to have.
But both are still clearly top five pound for pound boxers, if not top two.
The biggest physical observation about the two participants is the size difference. Mayweather is the bigger fighter and he will have about an inch-and-a-half to a two-inch height advantage as well as a five-inch reach advantage.
Pacquiao has faced bigger men for most of his career, but not many have the incredibly long welterweight reach of Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao has never faced someone who’s bigger than him and can also, at the very least, match his hand speed.
Mayweather has achieved greater amateur success than Pacquiao, who turned professional at the age of sixteen. But Pacquiao has had more stoppages than Mayweather. Pacquiao has stopped thirty-eight of his opponents while Mayweather has only stopped twenty-six. However, Pacquiao has not had a stoppage victory since 2009, and whatever power edge he may have had over Mayweather appears to be gone.
Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have defeated the who’s who of boxing in the past fifteen years. Both have defeated the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, and Miguel Cotto. Mayweather has also defeated the likes of Arturo Gatti, Marcos Maidana, Canelo Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, and Victor Ortiz. Pacquiao has also defeated the likes of Joshua Clottey, Timothy Bradley Jr., Chris Algieri, Brandon Rios, and Antonio Margarito.
Manny Pacquiao’s losses have come to Juan Manuel Marquez by a brutal knockout, a terrible split decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr., a loss that he later avenged to Erik Morales, and two losses early on in his career in Asia. It appears from watching Manny’s past fights that a patient, accurate, counter puncher gives Pacquiao the most problems.
Mayweather has never been defeated, but he has shown some kinks in his armor. Many felt that Mayweather lost his first fight to Jose Luis Castillo, who was able to swarm Mayweather and land an occasional clean left hand. But Mayweather was able to win very convincingly in the rematch. Mayweather at times had difficulty against southpaw Zab Judah in the early parts of their fight, but was able to take control of the later rounds and win convincingly. Mayweather’s only other “close” fights were to Miguel Cotto, who was able to land an occasional left jab and decent body shots and to Marcos Maidana who was able to rough Mayweather up when in tight.
Even though Mayweather is a polarizing character and can be hard to like, there’s no arguing with his immense talent and his perfect record.
Pacquiao’s aggressive southpaw style could give Mayweather’s shoulder roll defense problems in the first half of the fight, but Mayweather is one of the best at making adjustments and it is likely he’ll be able to use his significant reach to his advantage over the smaller Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s straight left will be the key for him winning the fight. His power shot will come at a slightly different angle than what Mayweather’s shoulder roll defense is used to, and if he can stun Mayweather, he can follow that up with swarming combinations and maybe stop him early. But that’s a big if, and as Mayweather has shown in preovious fights such as his bout against Shane Mosley, he can take a hard punch and recover quickly.
There are many involved in boxing want Pacquiao to win, and his style is unique and one that Mayweather has not seen before, but it’s difficult imagine a situation in which Pacquiao leaves Saturday as the victor.
But this is boxing, and it only takes one punch to drastically change one’s fate.