(This piece appeared in InterAKTV on February 10, 2011.)
by Mark Lorenzana
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and WBC welterweight titlist Floyd Mayweather Jr. are, undoubtedly, the two biggest attractions in the sport of boxing today. Both fighters possess speed, power, ring smarts, and tough chins — attributes that have catapulted them to superstardom.
Both boxers also possess varying fighting styles that, needless to say, promises an intriguing and mouth-watering matchup: Pacquiao’s relentless, unorthodox, and blitzkrieg offensive attack against Mayweather’s outstanding defensive skills and counterpunching prowess.
This matchup is a boxing fan’s dream come true: one of the game’s best boxer-punchers in Pacquiao fighting one of the game’s best counterpunching stylists in Mayweather.
The problem, though, is that they aren’t fighting each other anytime soon.
It’s official: Pacquiao has signed to fight undefeated Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley on June 9. The report comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Mayweather that he will be facing Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto for the latter’s WBA super welterweight strap on Cinco de Mayo.
So what could we expect from the two matchups?
Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley
After Pacquiao struggled against Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight, a close bout that Pacquiao won by majority decision, the consensus — both spoken and unspoken — around Boxlandia was that Mayweather was next for Pacquiao. But when feeble attempts at negotiations to make the dream fight fizzled out, several prospective opponents for Pacquiao cropped up overnight: Marquez, Cotto, Bradley, and even Lamont Peterson.
Marquez was out of the running as a potential opponent for Pacquiao soon after he voiced out several demands before a fourth fight could happen, demands that Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum deemed too unreasonable, even crazy: a venue other than Las Vegas, neutral judges, and a bigger purse. But Marquez was probably out of the running as a potential opponent for Pacquiao as early as the end of the third fight when everyone realized that the Mexican was the perfect foil for Pacquiao. Marquez will, most probably, fight another rumored Pacquiao opponent, Lamont Peterson in mid July.
Cotto was the initial pick by Pacquiao, but the Puerto Rican made it clear that he wouldn’t fight below 150 pounds. Cotto has campaigned at 154 lbs. for his past three fights already, and Pacquiao wanted the fight at a lower weight. It seems that the weight played a huge factor in Cotto’s decision to choose Mayweather, especially since the latter agreed to move up in weight to challenge Cotto.
Timothy Bradley is young, undefeated, a good boxer with decent-enough skills, someone who has defeated quality opponents. But Bradley is not exactly a power puncher and is going up in weight to fight Pacquiao, a fighter who has been campaigning as a full-fledged welterweight for a total of five fights now. Pacquiao has dominated naturally bigger guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Cotto, Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and Shane Mosley and has only shown difficulties against defensive counterpunchers like Marquez. Bradley is not a defensive counterpuncher, is smaller, and will take the fight to Pacquiao. Problem is, Pacquiao tends to make mincemeat out of offensive-minded fighters who take the fight to him, especially someone smaller and who has no power punch.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
A curious thing about this fight is that Mayweather has been avoiding Cotto for the longest time. This was when Cotto was still in his prime, when he was still undefeated, before he was beaten to a bloody pulp by Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao. Just recently, Mayweather dismissed Cotto as a potential opponent, saying he wouldn’t fight any of “Pacquiao’s leftovers.” Until now, that is.
Cotto may be the naturally bigger man, but he is not the same fighter many years ago that Mayweather had been ducking. Mayweather, being the shrewd, cagey boxer/businessman that he is, won’t risk his undefeated record. He took the fight because he knows that he can—and will—beat this version of Cotto.
So here’s the sad part: there is still no guarantee that Pacquiao and Mayweather will immediately fight each other after they beat each of their respective opponents. Who knows? Maybe they will eventually come to their senses many, many years from now, when they are both too old and too infirm and too shot. But will boxing fans still care?
Ah, to be passionate devotees of a niche sport whose two biggest attractions possess egos as huge as the fat paychecks that they command.