Boxing fans either love or hate upsets. But in the case of most Filipino boxing fans on May 2, an upset by Manny Pacquiao over Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be enough to cause people to dance in the streets of Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines.
But what are the chances of Pacquiao pulling off an upset? Well, forget about a wide decision or even a knockout after dominance of the initial rounds by the Filipino.
Truth is, Pacquiao will be hard pressed on fight night to score a big upset over Mayweather. And the versions of Pacquiao that beat Brandon Rios, Timothy Bradley and even Chris Algieri won’t cut it on fight night.
The best version of Pacquiao that can beat Mayweather is the one that, unbelievably, got knocked out by Marquez on December 2012. On that fateful night, Pacquiao was literally a beast that, however, was going up against a suddenly more powerful version of Marquez. It was like King Kong versus Godzilla, albeit on a smaller scale.
The Pacquiao that fateful night was aggressive, quick and had power in both hands. Although he was knocked down in the third round by a swinging right from Marquez, Pacquiao got up and evened the score by knocking down the Mexican in the fourth round with a patented left cross.
But even if fans were witnessing one of the best versions of Pacquiao in many years on December 8, 2012, Marquez seemed to have evened up the score in terms of punching power. And a well-placed right by Marquez at the closing seconds of the sixth round sealed the fate for our compatriot that night.
Although Pacquiao lost his aura of invincibility that night, I have no doubt Mayweather cannot knock out the Filipino the way Marquez did. There is no chance that will happen. Nada, zero, zilch!
So there’s the chance of Pacquiao against Mayweather—the fact that the American lacks one-punch knockout power. Pacquiao can take advantage of that to pressure and constantly chase Mayweather, who had a hard time in the early rounds in his first fight against Marcos Maidana. Maidana, one of the most underrated fighters today, kept Mayweather off-balance and off-rhythm in the early rounds of their first fight before the American was able to land numerous counters on the Argentinian.
With Mayweather off balance and off rhythm, Pacquiao can land his left cross more accurately and even score a knockdown if the Filipino’s training is able to restore some of the pop in his punches. And some boxing analysts still feel Pacquiao can keep the pressure on the American with his bunches of punches.
But in most occasions, it is easy for boxing analysts like me and even legends of the sports who fought in the ring to come up with theories on how an underdog can beat the favorite on fight night. And as I said in the first part of this three-part series, even Muhammad Ali was wrong in his prediction that Michael Spinks could score an upset over Mike Tyson in their June 1988 bout. On fight night, Tyson disposed of Spinks in just one round.
I also fear Mayweather will come into the fight with improved punching power. That cannot be discounted.
Truth is I do not want to reverse my thesis (or anti-thesis) on Pacquiao-May-weather: that the American has the edge.
And the big question that is still—what version of Pacquiao will show up against Mayweather on fight night. If the version of Pacquiao that battled Marquez for the fourth time shows up on fight night, there is a chance for an upset.
Perhaps Pacquiao can still score a “moral victory” if the fight ends in a draw or a split decision, majority decision or close unanimous decision in favor of Mayweather. Calls for rematch will surely ensue if that happened.
With millions of dollars to pocket from a potential rematch, expect Manny and “Money” to grab the opportunity for a second showdown. And the boxing world will go gaga again.