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Can Money really prove his worth against Pacman?

24 Apr | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Can Money really prove his worth against Pacman?

Where the Fight of the Century could be won and lost

No-one can deny it has been a very long time coming. For all hype swirling about, it is undeniable that it was now or never for this fight, and thankfully it is now. The only remaining question to answer for Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is, obviously, ‘who will win’?

Here, we take a look at the fighting styles of the two men to see if it holds any clues for which way the pendulum will swing.

Manny Pacquiao

We’ll start with the southpaw Filipino. Said by many to ‘define this generation of boxers’; what he lacks in height, he makes up for in sheer Tazmanian Devil-esque speed and aggression. Let’s be clear about this. To have a volume puncher like Pacquiao with the angling and footwork to match even the most light-footed of orthodox fighters is nothing short of jaw-dropping. I pray that in the years to come, he is remembered for the technical discipline that such a feat takes rather than being lazily attributed to simply sheer athleticism.

Southpaws (right foot in-front) have a natural advantage over orthodox fighters (left foot first). In the simplest terms, orthodox fighters are by far the most common. This means most standard stance boxers will spend most of their practise and ring time facing off against other orthodox fighters. They don’t have to move forward as much and instead edge towards the other boxer’s left to negate the right hook. Once they come up against a southpaw, everything they practise and rely on instinctively goes out the window, as their previous instincts are now weaknesses to their opponent’s vicious left ‘paw’.

But what sets Pacquiao apart from any other southpaw fighter is boxing trainer Freddie Roach. Before Roach came along, Manny was just a regular double-right jab and straight left puncher. Typical southpaw. Freddie taught Pacquiao the secret to his own lead right hook, dubbed ‘Manilla Ice’, and particularly how to use it sparingly. Now, as orthodox boxers circle away from his shotgun left, they get the lead right down the throat. And voila, Manny Pacquiao had a totally different dimension, and one that Floyd Mayweather has to learn how to adapt to.

Floyd Mayweather

As Sugar Ray Leonard famously said, “Floyd Jr. fights just like his dad. It’s just that Junior hits harder!” There, in a nutshell, is Money’s fighting style. The best pure boxer of this era, he himself describes his style as being based on “timing and inches”. He stays in the pocket, light on his toes. If someone throws at him, he uses his signature shoulder roll to shift his body weight to the right. Since he doesn’t have to tie up his hands guarding from the punch, he can fire back immediately while his opponent is at a disadvantage.

A gigantic right counter-puncher, Mayweather tends to deal with what most orthodox fighters fear most – the left hook – by fighting fire with fire. As he said, “I keep my right hand by my cheek to catch the hook. But I don’t try to catch the jab.” With the shoulder roll, he doesn’t need to. Try and stick a left, and he’ll back up to deliver one of the most jaw-shuddering straight right punches in modern boxing. He has, after all, been practising it for 25 years.

But what happens when those attributes are up against a southpaw? Like we mentioned earlier, adaption is needed. Out of the 48 opponents Mayweather has beaten, only nine of them were lefties. It is telling that Mayweather has picked former world junior welterweight champion DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley as his sparring partner ahead of the Pacquiao fight. Also a southpaw himself, DeMarcus gave Money some real problems when the two fought in 2004, Mayweather eventually prevailing on decision. Can Corley make the difference?

Things to look out for

There are crucial areas where the fight will be won and lost. The most important, as is always the case between southpaws and orthodox, is the cross. Pacquiao’s straight left vs. Mayweather’s straight right. Manilla Ice has the edge as it hits a lot harder, but Money’s right is far more accurate and, crucially, faster. Neither of these fighters are slouches, but Manny does have a tendency to hesitate in the face of heavy counterpunching, especially if he overcommits early on.

Second most influential will be the jabs, the go-to-punch of any good fighter because of its versatility – perfectly demonstrated by these two. Pacquiao uses a power jab, usually thrown just after his straight left and it can be devastating as a one-two. Mayweather, on the other hand, has a poor record for throwing the jab with any certainty or authority against the southpaws he has faced.

Instead, he uses it as a technique to keep them at bay while he works out the range so he can throw his powerhouse of a straight right. That may be fine against some lefties, but Manny is a different class. A less-powerful jab isn’t going to stop him coming for you, and Floyd may need to rely on some nifty footwork to get him out of trouble if the jabs start flying.

Work rate will probably be the biggest decider outside of actual punches. Everyone knows Pacquiao is a tiger, a demon that never stops moving and pressing. Mayweather has a more measured, deconstructive approach. If the Filipino southpaw starts swinging for the hills and is happy to miss plenty to connect with some, the American cannot wait for his chance to land a couple. If he does, he won’t be winning on points – that’s for sure.

No-one has summed this up better recently than Iron Mike himself, Mike Tyson. Speaking on Mayweather he said, “It’s unlikely he can knock Manny out, so if he wants to win, he’s got to change. Unless he throws more punches he can’t win the rounds”. You tell ‘em Mike.