Can Manny Do it?

By Ted Spoon on April 30, 2015
Can Manny Do it?
Pacquiao’s not as fresh-faced. He’s talking about retirement. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

There is definitely more pressure on Floyd, the favorite and defender of an oh-so precious record; not that anyone expects him to choke…

It is the emotionally-charged question on which the event hangs. Millions upon millions of people won’t be tuning in to watch Floyd Mayweather cruise to victory, to take the last round off and clock-watch. Boxing fans worldwide (and a small island worth of non-fans) will be tuning in for the prospect of Manny Pacquiao getting through with his left, getting through with his right and essentially do a tin-opening job on that famed defense.

Having grown numb to the glitz of big occasions, and remembering the debacle that was the Saul Alvarez fight, I’m eager to know…What are Manny’s chances?

Of all the videos documenting Mayweather’s reluctance to face Manny there is one in particular most will have seen in which he tells a cozy group of reporters that Pacquiao’s enlarged head is evidence of taking performance enhancing drugs and that “Ray Charles could see this shit.” Moving onto how he “walked through Cotto,” clearly Floyd was troubled, and at that time when the fight was irresistible Manny Pacquiao probably would have been installed as the slight favorite.

Today, nobody claims Manny is the same fighter. Aside from the fact he has not had a stoppage since 2009, been knocked cold, he’s also a 36-year-old veteran of 64 fights, many of them wars. He’s not as fresh-faced. He’s not as vicious. He’s talking about retirement. Fortunately, nor is Mayweather the same fighter. He’s not as agile. He fights in spots. One of the key reasons he is the favorite is that, despite a few chips in the paintwork, his style ages better.

Pacquiao must rediscover his old, energizer-bunny self. 

Motivation could be a factor. I don’t think Manny has been truly ‘on’ since the fourth Juan Manuel Marquez bout in which, up until that dynamite right, he was looking the best he had since abusing Antonio Margarito (2010). Brandon Rios was a no more than a warm-up, in the Timothy Bradley rematch he had to defeat someone 99.9% felt he already had, and Chris Algieri’s credentials amounted to a disputed decision over a slugger. Calls for Pacquiao-Mayweather began well before the fourth Marquez bout and carried on till it got booked this February. Manny must know whoever wins this one gets all the chips. Motivation cannot be an issue.

Presuming we get as good a Manny as one could hope for at this stage, what is the key to victory? So many have gone into the ring with a game plan only to watch it melt as Floyd ad-libs his way through each round, diffusing an opponent he hasn’t bothered to study on film. His talent is natural. He sees things and adjusts. There are discernible moves, just no pattern. At the first bell he will likely keep his distance and circle, see if he can get Pacquiao to overreach for single counters. They may be mutually cautious. Come the second Manny has to offset Floyd by feinting with his feet, teasing an attack like he does before pouncing. Quick feet are what Saul Alvarez sorely lacks and allowed Floyd to dictate with depressing ease.

A solid right hook developed under trainer Freddie Roach but the straight left has always been Pacquiao’s honey punch. Style wise it is the danger punch for an orthodox guy in a Philly-shell so (theoretically) there’s a better chance of Floyd catching head-snappers. If it can land with any sort of consistency we’ve got ourselves a fight. 

Teddy Atlas’s track record may cause a sneer or two but he has an interesting take on this one, feeling that Pacquiao’s aggression will ultimately drown Mayweather’s work rate as he is forced to cover up. The safety first boxer will then begin to drop rounds. He may have a point if you consider the reason Marquez had so much success against Manny, namely because he was willing to meet the incoming threat. That brutal knockout is a prime example, planting his feet as Manny darts in. Erik Morales won in 2005 because he was prepared to fight. If what Atlas says materializes so will a triangle theory.

Not one to underprepare, Floyd looks to have bulked up. A reach advantage and good movement will help but he needs to be able to make his opponent think twice or he’ll be running for twelve. Pacquiao is not an inside fighter, he likes to be in and out, so there’s not many opportunities to rest with him.

The Mayweather route to victory is painted in right hands. No question, Manny is open to the shot. Some feel Floyd will dominate with this punch. Roach says they have been working on a particular tactic that Manny is neutralizing which may be the pull-counter. In a maneuver where Floyd draws a lead to spring back with a right, he tends to square up and lean forward. With the benefit of observing his whole body from the comfort of a chair you can see him setting this trap. Firing a combination could be the remedy.

There is definitely more pressure on Floyd, the favorite and defender of an oh-so precious record; not that anyone expects him to choke. The smart money says Mayweather will, after blocking most of the debris kicked up by a Pacquiao whirlwind, start to slow things down, pick his shots and chip away to a decision. Manny is expected to cause trouble. If he is to win, during that mid-fight lull where most feel Mayweather takes over, he must be defensively responsible and maintain a high pace. It might be a job for the ‘08-’10 version but that’s where (millions will be hoping) desire trumps age. 

“My confidence is there 100%” smiled the underdog at the MGM Grand. Up went a booming chant. “Manny! Manny! Manny!” It’s hard not to believe in the humble boxer. Flanking him were those ubiquitous ring card girls, a wall of posters, a DJ, various officials. You’re reminded of the corporate, dirty side of the business…of judges. Controversy has a habit of tinging great events and may arise at the final bell. Seen as a rematch would make even more it will be awfully tempting to give Manny a decision he may not deserve.

But what of the nightmare scenario? What if Manny’s style eats into Mayweather’s like woodworm? It would answer that which we’ve always wanted to know about the money man. Can he handle a crisis? I know how badly Floyd wants to win though do wonder at what price. “My health comes first” lest we forget. Sure Floyd’s had to iron out some creases, digest a few hard shots, nothing desperate. He’s never had to take down a sniper like Thomas Hearns or play matador to a bull like Carmen Basilio. His struggles have been little more than glitches.

It may sound like I wish Floyd ill, I don’t, and it’s a pleasure to watch a ring artist, but I speak on behalf on everyone when I say that it would be cathartic to see him struggle. It would also nourish his legacy having confirmed that gutsy greatness; a prerequisite for anyone who dare call himself The Best Ever.

I suppose the question is not can but will Manny do it?

Well, there’s a reason he’s the underdog. There’s also a reason Floyd left this fight out in the cold to die. At the very least I think Manny will do what Saul Alavarez was supposed to and give us a competitive fight so that the spectacle actually does what it says on the tin.

So long as Floyd wins, he’ll insist it did.

Come Sunday, if that zero reads one, the strings behind the TBE illusion are officially unveiled.

And the Philippines will go bananas.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Classic Boxing: Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV 2012 (HBO Boxing)



Manny Pacquiao v Antonio Margarito Won UD 12



Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios 23/11/2013 FULL FIGHT



Pacquiao vs. Bradley II 2014 – Full Fight (HBO Boxing)



Boxing Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri



Morales vs Pacquiao 1 Full fight HD



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  1. Steve 11:29am, 05/02/2015

    Biker Mike-Pac lost one. JMM by KO. Until that KO he was ruling the roost. Should he kick into that gear Fraud will have a problem. Leave it all in the ring Pac.

  2. Old Yank 08:12am, 05/01/2015

    bikermike—Love the riff on who’s supposed to beat who.

  3. Old Yank 08:08am, 05/01/2015

    Funny stuff! Laughed my butt off!

  4. Danger dance 03:44am, 05/01/2015

    Paquiao all the way bring glory to the Philippines, knock his block off.

  5. bikermike 07:56pm, 04/30/2015

    Clarence George is both right and wrong..

    He’s right ..that there will not be a Pacquaio mayweather II…
    ..and he’s wrong…Pacific NorthWest is Seattle territory..and they’ve got hot water ...electricity..and indoor plumbing ..plus internet…since before your parents had pubic hair…

    Movie Deliverance was made closer to where you live , anyway

  6. bikermike 07:46pm, 04/30/2015

    Old Yank….i was kinda scratching my head about that ‘ubiquitous ’ thing ..I was sure it was some kind of Royal Canadian Artillery sexually transmitted disease…but what do I know…

  7. bob 07:41pm, 04/30/2015

    my prediction. this fight will turn out like pac/DLH and pac/margarito combine with some pac/cotto scenario. mark my words people.

  8. bikermike 07:29pm, 04/30/2015

    clay wasn’t supposed to beat Liston..nor was Ali supposed to beat Foreman..nor was Holmes supposed to beat Norton…Virgil Hill wasn’t supposed to beat Steward.(?)..
    Graziano wasn’t supposed to beat Zale…Fulmer wasn’t supposed to beat Robinson…Foreman wasn’t supposed to beat Mohr….Comacho wasn’t supposed to beat leonard…...and…...

    Pacquiao isn’t supposed to beat mayweather

  9. bikermike 07:23pm, 04/30/2015

    I’m kinda like Old Yank…I just want to see somebody do to pbf ...what Zab Judah did for four rounds…

    disrespect and multiple blows..rush him…and smack him soundly about the head and ears…
    pbf….he don’t like that…

    Should pbf get knocked out…or pacquiao get knocked out…it would be the best for both fighers’ legacy…

    Fighters should be encouraged to FIGHT…...and if that happens…we won’t feel cheated

  10. bikermike 07:13pm, 04/30/2015

    I guess this is the real meat of the matter..

    Pacquaio is the smaller man…got more miles on his engine and tires..lost a couple lately…
    ..wdf…only reason pbf is making the match is because he/they see pacman as less of a threat than say…..four ..even three years back…

    Betting odds gotta be slanted to pbf… cuz only pac’s Mother thinks he’s gonna win.+...but she ain’t betting

    I want to see a good fight…preferably a knock out…one way or another…

  11. FrankinDallas 05:59pm, 04/30/2015

    In two words, hell no.

  12. Kid Blast 02:24pm, 04/30/2015

    In a word, no

  13. Old Yank 01:13pm, 04/30/2015

    “Ubiquitous”...I thought it was French for “waking the trouser trout!”

  14. Clarence George 01:06pm, 04/30/2015

    Two observations, if I may:  First, “ubiquitous” should not be the first adjective that comes to mind when referencing ring card girls.  Second, if there’s Mayweather-Pacquiao II, I’m moving to the Pacific Northwest for the duration.  I don’t think they have the Internet and other such technological gizmos out there.

  15. Old Yank 01:03pm, 04/30/2015

    Even the southpaw Zab Judah—AFTER his chicken dance courtesy of Kostya Tszyu, and AFTER his losses to Spinks and Baldomir—was able to look damn good against Mayweather for 4! But Judah is reknowned for falling apart and gassing early when things heat up. For sure both Mayweather and Pacquiao have some miles on them. And although the miles on Manny can be seen in his losses, the miles on Mayweather are more subtle—note the legs that seemed missing against Maidana. Now take Maidana’s aggression and pair it with the speed of a younger Judah and wrap it all in the voodoo doll called the Mayweather family’s irrational fear of a southpaw and we’ve got a bout!

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