Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
Sure, it could have happened six years ago, but the best fight in almost two decades is here now. Let’s enjoy Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao and find out how it became such a big fight.
Before we get too deep into the X’s and O’s (or right’s and left’s as it were), I want to be frank about one thing up front. Floyd Mayweather Jr., the person, is not the guy on SportCenter hanging with Stephen A. Smith. Mayweather is a lonely man who abuses women to try to mask his insecurities. The criminal acts for which he has been arrested and found guilty of are disgusting and should be acknowledged.
Be that as it may, he is still really famous and really rich. And he is still one of the best boxers of all time. I differentiate Mayweather the boxer, from Mayweather the person, and you should too.
Mayweather was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to a fighting family. His father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was a former welterweight boxer. His uncles, Jeff and Roger Mayweather, were professional boxers. Floyd’s current trainer, Roger, won two world championships in his career.
Mayweather dropped out of high school to pursue his amateur boxing career and amassed a record of 84–6 and won national Golden Gloves championships in 1993, 1994 and 1996. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Mayweather won a bronze medal, although he was robbed of a victory in his final match, which prevented him of achieving at least a silver medal.
On that sour note, Mayweather turned professional. He rose quickly by fighting tough competition, but he wasn’t attracting the following he probably deserved. It is very tough for an African-American boxer to get support in America because the mainstream sports get much of that community’s attention. It is even tougher with the style he fights with and the persona of “Pretty Boy” that had him playing the good guy. So, he turned heel and became the villain known as “Money” Mayweather.
By creating this love-to-hate-me character and beating some of the biggest names in boxing, Mayweather rose closer to the top of many rankings. He has won titles in five weight classes and is widely considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport today. He even began referring to himself as TBE (The Best Ever).
It may sound simple, but what makes him so great is his ability to hit his opponent without being hit. His style is simple really. He utilizes an older technique called the “shoulder roll,” a defensive posture allows him to roll the punches off of his front (left) shoulder.
His right hand is held high so that he can parry hooks from the power arm of his opponent. In boxing, a scoring blow is considered a punch to the face or the midsection. Those areas are covered well by this defensive style. Mayweather learned how to use this technique better than anyone ever has. He also learned how to have an effective offense out of that position something even the best fighters can’t do.
Mayweather is also one of the best pure athletes in the sport. His training regimen is so focused and allows him to succeed in the ring. He can move his body to avoid punches better and faster than anyone in the sport. He has lightning fast hands that allow him to land punches before his opponent can react. His reflexes are faster than NHL goaltenders.
Pacquiao is a great boxer, but Mayweather is the best. The difference is in mentality. Mayweather is able to run off several different game plans that he can execute for any given fight. Pacquiao has one, with minor on-the-fly adjustments. Mayweather’s mind is like a boxing calculator, he instantly knows the right move to make and how to get there. This allows him to be steps ahead of his opponent.
Mayweather is a slow starter and he can be patient in the first couple rounds while studying his opponent. Once he is ready he executes his plan to perfection and wins on the scorecards, avoiding danger.
This fight was brewing for a while once Pacquiao started clearing out lower weight classes. It appeared they were on course for a collision. When the fight first began to materialize it fell apart because Pacquiao did not want to go through rigorous steroid tests. After that it appeared Mayweather was unwilling to make the fight. Then, Pacquiao was knocked out by his longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez and the fight was more uncertain then ever. Pacquiao came back and fought some of the top welterweights, proving he was back. The politics behind boxing are ugly and have been the biggest hurdle to getting this fight made. Once CBS got involved things became smoother on both sides and an agreement was finally reached.
So what will the fight of the decade look like for Mayweather? He will not start as slow because he is training even harder for this fight, because the only thing he cares about at this point is his legacy and this fight has major legacy implications. It may not be a fast-paced fight and at times he may spend half of the three-minute round circling Pacquiao, but when Mayweather turns it on, it will be the best pure boxing in the sport. Mayweather will win a lopsided unanimous decision on May 2, further cementing his spot with the best fighters ever.