We cover a wide range of combat sports topics in this week’s episode. From a $22 million settlement awarded to a debilitated boxer and his family to Jon Jones getting stripped of his belt again for a positive steroid test, Tom, Tony and Rich discuss it all. We also make our predictions for Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin. We recap Stefan Struve’s TKO loss to Alexander Volkov and preview UFC’s upcoming fight night event as well. We even spend some time discussing all the MMA fighters making the move to boxing.
By: Rich Bergeron
UFC 209 is fast approaching with two dynamic fights headlining the card, including a highly anticipated rematch closing the show. Fans are itching for a solid fight card to watch after multiple disappointing Pay-Per-View events left them wanting more in recent months. This is a card that could definitely deliver the action-packed, adrenaline-filled spectacle fans have come to expect for the price of admission. Here are my previews and predictions for the two blockbuster fights at the top of the bill.
Stephen Thompson (13-1-1) gets another crack at the welterweight title against Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) in the main event. Even the odds makers (Check out the M88 sportsbook for more betting info) have a tough time predicting how this highly charged rematch will go. Woodley comes in as the slight underdog at +110 to Thompson’s -140.
Still, the Champion came close to finishing the first fight in the fourth round. Rather than continue with his powerful ground and pound approach against the in-trouble Thompson, Woodley switched to a failed choke attempt instead. Thompson was able to weather the storm and eke out the draw, but he also won three out of the five rounds on the scorecard. The experts who set the betting lines are obviously conscious of this and factoring it into their calculations.
Can Woodley put himself in position to get the knockout win this time or will Thompson make the right adjustments to win every round this time?
Prediction: Stephen Thompson made one glaring mistake in the first fight that led to Woodley having a huge chance to win by knockout. Woodley picked his spots and made the fight competitive, but with both fighters knowing so much about each other now he may not be able to repeat or improve upon his performance in the first fight. Meanwhile, Thompson is a skilled tactician, and he will focus on cage control this time around. He will use distance striking, superb defense, and constant movement to keep Woodley from doing any major damage this time around. Woodley of course has a chance to quiet all his doubters with one punch, but Thompson is the type of fighter who may not give the champ a chance to land that shot.
THOMPSON WINS BY UNANIMOUS DECISION
The co-main event will set the stage for Conor MacGregor’s return to the UFC cage. The Irish superstar will eventually face the winner of UFC 209’s co-main event: Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs. Tony Ferguson (22-3). This fight could potentially upstage the main event, despite the fact that Khabib is a -205 favorite to Ferguson’s +165 odds to win. Both fighters have enough momentum going for them to earn a title shot without fighting each other, but that doesn’t make this bout any less exciting on paper. Ferguson is 12-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming against Khabib’s last opponent: Michael Johnson. Ferguson lost to Johnson in 2012 by unanimous decision while Khabib submitted Johnson via Kimura in the third round of their UFC 205 clash last November.
Both fighters have equally imposing strengths. Khabib smothers many of his opponents with crisp wrestling skills to match his more than capable striking and submission ability. Sambo and judo are also staples of Nurmagomedov’s intense approach to cage fighting. He is so well rounded that he has an equal number (8) of submission, decision and T/KO wins, and all of his decision wins are unanimous.
Ferguson is on a nine-fight win streak. He is more of a volume striker, and he used excellent boxing to impose his will on the opponents he’s dominated so far. He is also well rounded like Nurmagomedov and can use that superb striking to secure submissions on stunned opponents. He has 8 submissions to go with 9 T/KOs and five decisions.
PREDICTION: Ferguson may be on a tremendous run right now, but Khabib’s absolutely dominated every opponent he ever faced in his MMA career. McGregor may actually be rooting for a tie in this fight so he can have some extra time to negotiate a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. while these two contenders are setting up an inevitable rematch. However, ties are rare enough in the UFC that one here is far fetched to imagine. It’s much more likely that this fight ends up with one fighter on the canvas, out cold or too dazed to continue. All signs point to that fighter being Ferguson, leaving MacGregor with the prospect of having to prove his mettle by beating a man nobody’s been able to beat before. Of course, anything can happen in that cage and anyone can have a bad night at the office, but perfection is hard to argue with.
NURMAGOMEDOV BY 2nd Round TKO
By Tony Penecale
There are rivalries that are legendary throughout history. The Hatfields and The McCoys, The Capulets and The Montagues and The New York Yankees and The Boston Red Sox are all bitter rivalries. It can be argued that the most brutal is the long-standing boxing rivalry between Puerto Rican fighters against their Mexican counterparts. The next chapter matches the experience and heavy hands of Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto against the youth and power of Mexican dynamo Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. When they meet on Saturday night, both fighters will be carrying the pride of their country into the ring and in the mantra of Spartan warriors, they will emerge from battle with a shield or on it. Who will be carrying his shield at the end of their encounter and who will be carried out on his?
AGE, RECORD, AND STATS
Cotto: Age: 35 years old
Record: 40-4 (33 Knockouts)
Weight: 153 * * Weight for last bout (6-6-15)
Alvarez: Age: 25 years old
Record: 45-1-1 (32 Knockouts)
Weight: 154 * * Weight for last bout (5-9-15)
WBO Junior Welterweight Champion (’04-‘06)
WBA Welterweight Champion (’06-‘08)
WBO Welterweight Champion (’09)
WBA Junior Middleweight Champion (’10-‘12)
WBC Middleweight Champion (’14-Pres)
WBC Junior Middleweight Champion (’11-‘13)
WBA Junior Middleweight Champion (’13)
A physical stalker who boxes from the orthodox stance, Cotto has developed better boxing skills but still prefers to come straight ahead, and wear opponents down with a vicious body attack. Cotto favors hooks and uppercuts to straight punches and turns every bout into a war of attrition. Doesn’t have lights-out punching power but is very punishing. Most of his stoppage victories have come late, after his opponent has been worn down. Will often leave himself open to counters when trying to unleash his offense.
An aggressive, physical fighter with underrated boxing skills and quickness, Alvarez often wears opponents down with consistent pressure and heavy-handed punches. Will use feints and counters to throw is opponents timing off and create openings for a strength-sapping body attack. Carries fight-changing power in both hands but sometimes doesn’t throw enough punches. While he is most known for his offensive skills, Alvarez has decent, but not great, defensive skills slipping and blocking punches.
* Body Attack – Cotto is quite possibly the best body puncher in the sport today. He wings thunderous hooks on the inside that make contact with whatever is available: ribs, shoulders, torso, chest, and arms, with punishing results.
* Strength – Cotto is a strong and physical fighter. Even as he has grown from junior welterweight up to middleweight, he remains a physical force, capable of wearing down larger adversaries.
* Heart – Cotto carries a lot of pride when he steps into the ring. He has been in a number of wars where he’s been cut, knocked down, or in other adverse situations, and Cotto has shown a champion’s heart.
* Punching Power – Alvarez carries thunder in both fists. He is knockout power in either hand, but his most devastating weapon resides in his left hook. A single left hook rendered the iron-jawed Carlos Baldomir unconscious and his knockout of James Kirkland was a potential knockout of the year candidate.
* Strength – Alvarez is a physically-maturing and thickly-built fighter with uncanny strength. He is effective in backing fighters up, even when not landing flush punches. Against the smaller Josesito Lopez, he lifted him off his feet and sent him to the canvas with punches that landed against his opponent’s chest.
* Punishing Body Attack – Alvarez prefers to wear his opponents down in the traditional Mexican fashion of punishing the body. While he is economical with his punches, he delivers maximum leverage on each punch, especially the crushing left hook to the liver.
* Effects of Wars – Cotto has been competing against world-class opposition for over a decade. He suffered two brutal losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao and suffered punishment in his wins over Ricardo Torres, Zab Judah, and Shane Mosley. While he has had a resurgence working with Freddie Roach, the cumulative effects of his prior wars can be a detriment.
* Easy to Hit – Cotto has made improvements with his defense but still has the mindset that his best defense is a good offense. His wide open offense and relentless body attack often leaves him open to be hit with counterpunches, primarily hooks and uppercuts.
* Chin – Combined with an offense that leaves him prone to counter punches, Cotto’s shaky chin can be a recipe for disaster. Cotto was wobbled or dropped in several of his earlier fights and then battered, bloodied and TKO’d in his fights against Margarito (1st fight) and Pacquiao. Even the light-punching Floyd Mayweather staggered him late in their fight.
* One Dimensional – Alvarez does not adapt well in mid-fight. He comes in with a single game-plan and has not shown the ability to adjust even when his tactics are not working. He struggled in his wins over Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara and was easily out-boxed against Mayweather.
* Fatigue – Alvarez works hard in the gym and is always in great shape but often finds it hard to go full tilt for an entire round, especially as his fights go into the middle or later rounds. In his match with Austin Trout, Alvarez showed serious fatigue at times and even found himself backing up.
* Easy to Hit –Alvarez is still an offense-first type of fighter who likes to apply pressure to his opponents. He will leave himself open to counter punches, especially right hand and counter left hooks.
(6/6/15) – Cotto demolished Australian Daniel Geale in a middleweight title defense, knocking him out in four rounds. After winning the first three rounds, Cotto floored Geale twice in the 4th round, forcing him to surrender.
(5/9/15) – Alvarez won the potential Fight-of-2015 with a candidate for Knockout-of-the Year, destroying James Kirkland in three rounds. The limited but dangerous Kirkland attacked early and the slugfest was initiated. Alvarez scored three knockdowns including a final right hand the rendered Kirkland unconscious.
3 BEST PERFORMANCES
* Sergio Martinez (6/7/14) – Cotto upset the highly-regarded but aging and injury-prone “Maravilla” Martinez. Cotto started quickly flooring the middleweight champion three times in the opening round and punished him throughout until the bout was halted in the 10th round.
* Zab Judah (6/9/07) – Cotto had to endure some difficult moments early against the speedy southpaw, getting rocked and suffering a cut under his lip. Cotto’s relentless pressure gradually broke down Judah, sapping his strength. Cotto finished the show, dropping Judah in the 9th round before finally stopping him in 11 rounds.
* Alfonso Gomez (4/12/08) – Cotto put on a stunning display, mixing boxing skills with a vicious body attack to completely obliterate popular “Contender” alum Gomez by 5th round TKO. Cotto dominated the action and scored knockdowns in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th rounds, beating Gomez into submission.
* James Kirkland (5/9/15) – It was the 2015 version of Hagler-Hearns. Kirkland attacked relentlessly at the bell and Alvarez responded in kind. Alvarez scored a knockdown in the 1st round and thwarted Kirkland’s brief moments of success, flooring him with an uppercut in the 3rd round, before finishing him with a picturesque right hand only moments later.
* Kermit Cintron (11/26/11) – Making his 3rd title defense, Alvarez made it look easy against the faded former welterweight champion. Alvarez made Cintron appear older than his true age of 32, and punished him with ease. Alvarez scored a knockdown in the 4th round before battering him mercilessly and forcing a stoppage in the 5th.
* Carlos Baldomir (9/18/10) – Alvarez was a 20 year old prodigy facing a durable former world champion in Baldomir. Alvarez was successful boxing early and using his advantages in speed and skill to sweep the first five rounds. But it was his display in the 6th that was memorable. Alvarez rocked Baldomir before finally dropping with a left hook, rendering him unconscious before he hit the mat and dealing him his only stoppage loss in a 16-year career.
KEYS TO VICTORY
* Use footwork and angles to keep Alvarez off balance
* Do not stand toe-to-toe with the naturally larger Alvarez
* Land early to gain Alvarez’s respect
* Keep the pressure on Cotto and cut off the ring
* Out jab Cotto and force him to trade punches
* Be patient early and wear Cotto down
* Can Cotto stand up to a younger and larger opponent?
* Were his last two victories more of a case of facing faded or limited opposition?
* How much does Cotto really have left?
* Can Alvarez change his gameplan if he is falling behind early?
* Will his defensive liabilities be exposed against such a dangerous puncher?
* Is Alvarez still improving?
Cotto will open utilizing his underrated boxing skills and quickness, moving laterally, and jabbing in an effort to keep Alvarez from setting his feet. Alvarez will advance trying to establish his own jab and work the body. Whenever Alvarez gets too close, Cotto will pivot away and step on angle with a few hard jabs. The first two rounds will be strategical but tense. The eruption can happen at any time.
The action will start to intensify in the 3rd round as Alvarez continually gets closer and forces Cotto to start to stand his ground. Like a couple of mountain rams butting heads and locking horns, the power punches will start to fly. Cotto will throw flashier combinations, featuring overhand rights to the head, left hooks to the body, and hard jabs to the face and torso. Alvarez will dig his toes in and throw thumping single shots, uppercuts and hooks, both to the head and body, which result in an abrasion under Cotto’s left eye and blood seeping from his mouth.
Throughout the middle rounds, Cotto’s superior boxing and skillset will have him slightly ahead on the scorecards but Alvarez’s size and strength advantage will be, slowly and surely, wearing Cotto down. Cotto’s three-and-four-punch combinations will gradually reduce to two-punch combinations and single hooks to the body. The slower pace will favor Alvarez and he will be able to control the tempo and dig in with hard punches to the body and right hands to the face.
Going into the 7th round, with the bout virtually even and sensing he cannot hurt the larger Alvarez, Cotto will revert his focus back to boxing on the outside. The change in tactic will momentarily bewilder Alvarez, who was becoming comfortable trading in the trenches. The brief momentum shift will allow Cotto to regain a slight lead on the scorecards.
Realizing that he is behind and facing an opponent who is slowly fading, Alvarez will apply blistering pressure in the 9th round, stalking Cotto, forcing him to move or punch to survive, and causing him to expend precious energy in doing so. Whenever they get close, Alvarez will use his shoulders to muscle Cotto and clip him with short hooks and uppercuts, momentarily staggering him in the 10th round.
With his face morphing into a grotesque mask of blood and swelling, a seemingly spent Cotto will go for broke in the 11th, attacking desperately and winging some of his best hooks to the body and head. Alvarez will be happy to trade hooks with him and the action will be intense. Late in the round, Alvarez will land a flush uppercut as Cotto is wide open and the Puerto Rican fighter will drop to his knees, his left eye nearly shut and his mouth leaking blood. His heart will pull him to his feet and Alvarez will come in for the kill, backing Cotto to the ropes where the exchange of punches is only halted by the bell.
After touching gloves to start the final round, Alvarez will attack Cotto from the onset. A pair of right hands to the side of the head will wobble Cotto, forcing him to stagger to the ropes and fall to his knees. Referee Robert Byrd will administer the count with Cotto rising at the count of 8, vehemently contending that he is OK to continue. As soon as Byrd waves the fighters back together, Alvarez will spring across the ring, landing a right hand and left uppercut. As Cotto falls back against the neutral corner, Byrd will step in between them and stop the fight, signaling Alvarez as the winner.
The winner by TKO at 59 seconds of the 12h round will be Saul “Canelo” Alvarez!!!!
By: Tony Penecale
Find Tony on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TornadoTP
FINALLY!!!! After six years of arguing, negotiating, finger-pointing, and the real possibility that it would never happen, the long-awaited superfight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is finally about to happen. There is a possibility of grossing upwards of $300 million between them, easily the richest event in sports history. Mayweather is set to make $180 million. He would earn $15 million per round, $5 million per minute, & $83,333.33 per second. Pacquaio would make $120 million and would earn $10 million per round, $3,333,333.33 per minute, & $55,555.56 per second. Las Vegas is a gambling town, and after years of bluffing, raising the ante, and calling each other out, both fighters have put all their chips in. Their legacies are on the table. Now, it’s time to see who is really holding the Aces when they step in the ring.
AGE, RECORD, AND STATS
Mayweather: Age: 38 years old
Record: 47-0 (26 Knockouts)
Weight: 146 * * Weight for last bout (9-13-14)
Pacquiao: Age: 35 years old
Record: 57-5-2 (38 Knockouts)
Weight: 144 ** Weight for last bout (11-20-14)
1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist
WBC Super Featherweight Champion (’98-’02)
WBC Lightweight Champion (’02-’04)
Ring Magazine Lightweight Champion (’02-’04)
WBC Junior Welterweight Champion (’05-’06)
IBF Welterweight Champion (’06)
WBC Welterweight Champion (’06-‘07)
WBC Junior Middleweight Champion (’07)
WBA Junior Middleweight Champion (’12)
WBC Welterweight Champion (’11-Pres)
Ring Magazine Welterweight Champion (’06-‘07)
Ring Magazine Pound-4-Pound #1 Boxer (’05-’07, ’12-Pres)
WBC Flyweight Champion (’98-‘99)
IBF Super Bantamweight Champion (’01-’03)
WBC Super Featherweight Champion (’08)
WBC Lightweight Champion (‘08)
IBO Junior Welterweight Champion (’09)
WBO Welterweight Champion (’09-‘12)
WBO Welterweight Champion (’14-Pres)
Ring Magazine Pound-4-Pound #1 Boxer (’08-‘12)
Ring Magazine Pound-4-Pound #4 Boxer (Pres)
A pure boxer with great speed who does everything well with an arsenal that includes a snapping jab, accurate right hand and a left hook that can be doubled and tripled with tremendous effect. Uses feint moves to freeze opponents and open punching lanes. Tucks his chin well behind his shoulder to roll with punches. Even on the ropes, he is a difficult target to land a solid punch on. He doesn’t have great punching power. Most of his stoppage victories come from outpunching and outclassing his opponents but rarely scoring clean knockouts.
Pacquiao boxes from a southpaw stance, moving forward and bobbing and feinting his way in. Once in close, he uses his right hand to find the range and then unleashes his powerful left, either straight or looping, and he will often double and triple it to the body and head. Uses quick head shifts to slip punches while moving forward. Has soundly developed under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, developing a decent right hook, either as a lead punch or thrown behind the left. Uses quick head shifts to slip punches while moving forward. Is no longer the feared finisher he once was earlier in his career.
* Experience – Boxing is in Mayweather’s blood, and he’s been involved in the sport since his childhood. Completed an extensive amateur career by winning the bronze medal in the ’96 Olympic Games. He has been competing successfully on a championship level for the past 17 years, facing and defeating fighters with a variety of styles.
* Conditioning – Mayweather is a fitness freak with an amazing work ethic when it comes to training. Few fighters push themselves as much as Mayweather does in the gym, even doing midnight training sessions. It is evident in the ring when his stamina carries him in the late rounds.
* Ring Generalship – Mayweather knows every inch of the ring and how to control a fight. He knows when to attack, when to box, when to turn up the heat, and when to coast. Mayweather owns the ring when he is in there. Even the rare times when he has been stunned in fights, he was able to quickly settle down and quell the threat.
* Unorthodox Style – Pacquiao is very unorthodox, even for a southpaw. He moves straight in but is hard to time with his bobbing and head feints. Before most opponents can time his onrushes, he is throwing whirlwind punches from a variety of angles.
* Speed – Pacquiao is fleet of foot and the owner of very fast hands, especially for a boxer with such considerable power. He quickly moves into position and fires rapid one-two combinations. He’s expanded his arsenal to include blinding combinations of hooks, uppercuts, and double or triple left hands.
* Stamina – Pacquiao is always in tremendous shape and fights just as hard in the last round as he does in the first. He applies a ton of pressure and is constantly punching, wearing opponents down in the process.
* Aging – Mayweather may have an unblemished record, but Father Time has never been defeated. Mayweather has been more flat-footed in recent bouts. His first encounter with Marcos Maidana was a rough and tumble affair where Mayweather looked very ordinary. The rematch was more definitive but unimpressive.
* Distractions – Maweather loves to be in the public eye and never shies away from controversy. Most notably are his public disputes and reconciliations with his father and trainer, Floyd Mayweather, Senior. The most recent camp turbulence came in the form of a training camp dispute between Floyd Sr. and Alex Ariza, working as the strength and conditioning coach. A non-harmonious training camp could lead to unnecessary distractions.
* Punching Power – Most of Mayweather’s stoppage wins came from an accumulation of punches. The usual result is the referee or opposing corner stopping the bout to prevent further punishment. Notwithstanding his controversial and explosive knockout of Victor Ortiz, it is rare to see Mayweather finish a bout with one punch, dating all the way back to his days as a 130-pounder.
* Killer Instinct – Pacquiao was once regarded as a ruthless buzzsaw, cutting through opponents until they succumbed. He has since lost that edge, failing to win a fight by stoppage since 2009. More of a concern is that on several occasions he eased up on outclassed opponents, allowing them to survive the last few rounds.
* Trouble with Counterpunchers – Pacquiao is an aggressive, offense-first fighter who will freely throw punches, but he can be timed and is often open to be hit with counters. Juan Manuel Marquez gave him fits with movement and counter punches, even scoring a spectacular knockout over Pacquiao with a perfectly-timed counter right hand.
* Age – Pacquiao is no longer the phenomenon he was in his 20s. He is now in his mid-30s. As he has physically aged, he has also taken on a super human schedule with political aspirations in his home country, numerous personal appearances, and several difficult bouts.
(09-13-14) Mayweather neutralized and outboxed Marcos Maidana in a rematch from their closer-than-expected bout from four months prior. While the action was sparse, it was a case of Mayweather using his superior skills and intelligence to thwart his aggressive but limited opponent.
(11-20-14) Pacquiao won a dominating unanimous decision over the game but vastly inexperienced Chris Algieri. Pacquiao was in control from the start and scored a total of six knockdowns, somehow failing to score the knockout some experts thought he needed to be in position for the Mayweather fight to happen.
THREE BEST PERFORMANCES
* Diego Corrales (1/20/01) – Experts were torn on who to pick in this one with many leaning towards Corrales to win by KO. Mayweather never let him in the bout, knocking him down five times before the referee halted the bout in the 10th round.
* Arturo Gatti (6/25/05) – Although Mayweather was a solid betting favorite, many expected Gatti to make things rough for Mayweather. It never happened, as Mayweather floored Gatti in the first round and dealt out a severe beating before Gatti’s corner stopped the bout after six one-sided rounds.
* Ricky Hatton (12/8/07) – Hatton was undefeated coming into the bout and set a gameplan of constant pressure to wear out Mayweather. After a few uncomfortable rounds, Mayweather was able to find his range and take over, flooring Hatton twice in the 10th round and forcing a stoppage.
* Oscar De la Hoya (12/06/08) – It’s hard to imagine now, but the consensus at the time was that De la Hoya would destroy the smaller Pacquiao in a landslide. It was a landslide, but it was Pacquiao dishing out the beating, ripping De la Hoya apart with both hands. After eight one-sided and brutal rounds, a swollen and bloodied De la Hoya was beaten into permanent retirement.
* Miguel Cotto (11/14/09) – Pacquiao impressively dismantled the larger and physically imposing Cotto. Pacquiao dropped the Puerto Rican superstar twice early. From the 6th round on, Pacquiao had Cotto in a defensive shell, battering him until the referee stopped the bout in the 12th round.
* Ricky Hatton (05/02/09) – Pacquio ran through Hatton in fast and destructive fashion. Hatton–while still an underdog–was expected to provide a challenge with his strength and mauling tactics. Pacquiao unveiled an improved right hook and had Hatton down twice in the first round before crushing him with a devastating knockout in the second.
*Oscar De la Hoya
– Mayweather: Split Decision 2007
– Pacquiao: TKO 8th round 2008
– Mayweather: Unanimous Decision 2013
– Pacquiao: TKO 12th round 2009
– Mayweather: TKO 10th round 2007
– Pacquiao: KO 2nd round 2009
* Shane Mosley
– Mayweather: Unanimous Decision 2010
– Pacquiao: Unanimous Decision 2011
* Juan Manuel Marquez
– Mayweather: Unanimous Decision 2009
– Pacquiao: Draw 2004, Split Decision 2008, Majority Decision 2011,
KO’d 6th round 2012
KEYS TO VICTORY
* Get Pacquiao’s respect early, timing his rushes, and hitting him with straight right hands.
* Use clinches to smother Pacquiao and thwart any offensive momentum.
* Do not try to trade punches with Pacquiao.
* Use feints to get Mayweather to make the first move.
* Don’t aim strictly at Mayweather’s head. Focus on the body, arms, and torso?
* Do not let Mayweather control the tempo.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
* Can the fight live up to the hype? Unless this turns out to be Hagler-Hearns, Gatti-Ward, and Ali-Frazier all rolled up into one, it will be nearly impossible to live up to the hype that has surrounded this match-up for over six years. The hype might be inflated and overbearing, but it can still be entertaining.
* Is the fight happening too late? Both fighters are in their late 30s. While these two phenoms are still elite competitors, they are past their primes. Even so, instances of fighters past their primes matching up perfectly and turning in an epic encounter have occurred on several occasions.
* Who has the most to lose? Mayweather without a doubt has the most to lose. Pacquiao is an icon in his home country, so no matter what happens, he will remain a beloved figure. Mayweather is boasting about himself as “The Best Ever” and relishes his undefeated record. He even said recently that he’s better than Muhammad Ali was. A loss obliterates the “0” on Mayweather’s record and will provide more fodder for the argument that he is not even the best of his generation.
* How will their styles match up? It figures to be a classic boxer vs puncher match-up. Mayweather is a consummate strategist. He is a master of figuring out his opponents, frustrating them, and setting up counter punches. Pacquiao will press the action, try to overwhelm, breaking through Mayweather’s defense with a high volume of punches. It will be a clash of Quantity against Quality. Pacquiao will throw more punches, more punches than anybody has ever thrown against Mayweather. Mayweather will throw less but land at a higher connect rate, with sharp counter punches.
* What are the chances of a Knockout? Pacquiao is known as the better puncher, but he has failed to score a stoppage victory since battering Miguel Cotto in 2009. Mayweather has scored only one stoppage victory since 2007 against the weak-chinned Victor Ortiz. The two most likely scenarios for a knockout win would either be Pacquiao becoming reckless and leaving himself open to Mayweather’s straight right hand or Mayweather suddenly becoming an old fighter and wilting under Pacquiao’s relentless pressure. Likely, this fight will go to the scorecards.
* Will the officials factor into the conclusion? Kenny Bayless has been assigned as the referee and is regarded as one of the best in boxing. He has worked as the referee in six previous Pacquiao fights and four previous Mayweather bouts. The only backlash he received from those ten total bouts was the Mayweather-Maidana rematch where he was criticized for breaking up the inside clinches too quickly, seemingly favoring Mayweather against the mauling style of Maidana. With Mayweather naturally bigger than Pacquiao, breaking up clinches quickly (especially if Pacquiao has any momentum) would serve more as a disadvantage to Mayweather. The judges are Burt Clements, Dave Moretti, both veteran officials in Las Vegas, and Glenn Feldman, based out of Connecticut. Moretti has worked nine Mayweather bouts and six Pacquiao bouts. Clements has worked three Mayweather bouts and one Pacquiao bout. Feldman has only worked one Mayweather bout early in his career.
* What happens next? If the fight turns out to be entertaining, close, or controversial, a rematch is possible depending on the outcome.
If Mayweather wins, he is 48-0 and can walk away from Pacquiao and seek a different challenge for his final fight. He could even seek a possible move up to grab a title at middleweight and another superfight with the next big sensation Gennady Golovkin.
If Pacquiao wins, a rematch is almost a given, especially with so much money on the table.
A draw would also most likely force a rematch for the final fight of Mayweather’s career sometime in September.
The anticipation as the fighters make their way to the ring will be electric. The growing crescendo of excitement will continue through the introductions with Mayweather sporting a confident smirk and Pacquaio fixated with an icy glare.
The waiting will be over when the bell rings and both fighters come out to the center of the ring. Mayweather will be moving to his left, rolling his hands and probing with a soft jab. Pacquiao will be like a coiled spring, bouncing back and forth and feinting with his jab. Pacquiao will throw a few wild left hands that Mayweather backs away from, his back hitting the ropes as he slides away to his right. The round will end without anything conclusive landing for either fighter, making it difficult to score.
Pacquiao will look to increase the pace in the second round and outwork Mayweather. While Mayweather is the center of the ring, he will dictate the pace and the action, keeping Pacquiao limited to throwing one punch at a time. When Pacquiao is able to cut the ring off and back Mayweather to the ropes, he will unleash combinations. The flurries for the most part won’t land, but the work rate will stir the crowd into a frenzy.
Pacquaio will continue the high volume of punches through the 3rd and 4th rounds until Mayweather lands a right hand while their feet are tangled, causing Pacquiao to sprawl to the canvas. He will protest while Bayless administers the count, but he will not be hurt. Mayweather will smile and move in, throwing a few right hands, truly seeing if Pacquiao is stunned. Pacquiao will respond with his own vicious left hand, bringing the crowd to their feet as the bell rings.
Mayweather will again box cautiously starting the 5th round, staying on the outside and pivoting away when Pacquiao gets close. The fight will resemble a cat and mouse affair with Pacquiao trying to corner Mayweather and Mayweather trying to bait him into making a mistake. Pacquiao will be the aggressor, throwing far more punches. Mayweather will be timing him with single counter punches throughout the 6th and 7th rounds.
A sharp left hand by Pacquiao in the 8th round will startle Mayweather and cause blood to leak from his nose. Pacquiao will try to press the advantage and unleash another torrent of punches. Mayweather will pull away against the ropes, and Pacquiao will focus his attention to the body with a combination of punches to the chest and shoulder, forcing Mayweather to clinch and break the momentum.
Mayweather will get up on his toes in the 9th round, using lateral movement to keep Pacquiao from setting his feet and unleashing more than one punch at a time. Pacquiao will step in with a few lefts that are blocked, but Mayweather’s movement will keep him from throwing any follow-up punches. As Mayweather slips out, he will land his own counter punches, making it another difficult round to score.
Throughout the 10th and 11th rounds, Mayweather will execute a plan to counter Pacquiao with single punches and avoid most of his counter flurries. Pacquiao will step in with a hard left to the body, forcing a Mayweather clinch. When the action resumes, Pacquiao will look to attack the body again, only to be met with a straight right hand over the top.
The final round in a very close bout will see Mayweather neutralizing Pacquiao’s rushes, landing single counter punches and pivoting away from danger, sharpshooting from the outside. Pacquiao will desperately try to corner Mayweather but he won’t allow it, moving on the outside and clinching in close, bringing an anticlimactic ending as the final bell rings.
It will take several minutes for the scorecards to be tabulated, with the consensus believing Mayweather won 7 rounds, including a knockdown. Pacquaio will pray in his corner while Mayweather smiles and laughs with his entourage.
The decision will be as follows. Glen Feldman will score the bout 114-113 for Pacquaio. Burt Clements will score 115-112 for Mayweather. Dave Moretti will score the bout a very curious 115-112 for the winner of the biggest superfight of the century…. MANNY “PACMAN” PACQUIAO!!!!
With the decision announced, a disgusted Mayweather will demand a rematch before storming out of the ring, setting up another lucrative event in September and a possible trilogy.