The official contract isn't signed yet, but it appears as if March 13, 2010 will feature a boxing showdown for the ages. Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather, best versus best, for all the proverbial marbles. It's a fight that every fan dreams of seeing at least once in their lifetime.
For those of you who have read my past criticisms of Floyd Mayweather (and they are considerable), my main gripe with him is that I feel he has consistently ducked the best possible opponents he could face, not only in his welterweight class, but virtually anywhere north of 135 pounds. Sure, Oscar De La Hoya was a challenge at 154 pounds, but De La Hoya was way past his best days, and even then Mayweather only managed a narrow split decision in what has been, to date, the richest fight in boxing history. What he has on his hands now will be far more difficult, far more dangerous, and far more lucrative than that classic showdown (in which I rooted for Mayweather, ironically).
Though I would prefer that Mayweather fight a true welterweight like Shane Mosley or Paul Williams, I applaud him for finally agreeing to a fight in which there is a significant chance of him losing. He says he won't (don't they all?), but let's not kid ourselves. He has never faced anything like Manny Pacquiao, and if he's not careful, Pacquiao could wreck him psychologically just like he did De La Hoya, Hatton and Cotto.
All of that said, I pledge that I will withhold personal criticism of Mayweather for the forseeable future and focus instead on the fight itself (unless of course, he backs out at the last minute or tries some more of that weight scale drama).
There is an old saying in boxing that a good big man beats a good little man every time. It stands to reason then that a great big man would beat the great little man in this case. But that is not necessarily true.
This will not be the Juan Manuel Marquez fight all over again. Mayweather is not a pressure fighter. He prefers to fight defensively and selectively counterpunch, which he does very effectively. In fact, in only a couple of his fights has he shown a killer offensive instinct to go after his opponent and annihilate him. That is one reason he has 40 wins but only 25 knockouts. Pacquiao, with his martial arts background, will not stand in front of him, but will look to dart in and out, landing what he can and getting away. I do think he will have a problem with Mayweather's reach, which is 72 inches versus Pacquiao's 67 (same as Cotto), so trainer Freddie Roach will have to account for that in his game plan.
Over the next couple months, I will break down both fighters and analyze their strengths and weaknesses, both historically and against each other. Again, kudos to Floyd, you finally took a risk, and for that, you have my respect.