Most people think Floyd Mayweather Jr. is going to beat Manny Pacquiao on May 2.
Mayweather is the betting favourite, and Pacquiao is widely considered past his prime after losing two of his last five fights and getting brutally knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez.
On Grantland’s “The Ropes” podcast, boxer and Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi gave a great, detailed explanation for how he sees the fight playing out.
Malignaggi makes a convincing case for Mayweather. He thinks Mayweather is going to sap Pacquiao of his confidence early, slowly come into the fight, and then eventually put Pacquiao on his back foot later in the fight — something Pacquiao has little experience with.
Malignaggi says the fight is going to start slow, with Floyd dictating the pace:
“I think early on Floyd will be Floyd and it will be a pretty tedious affair. I don’t expect the fight to start fast, although I do expect Manny to try to start fast. I don’t think you can come out with surprises and see Manny starting slow because the slower the pace the worse it is for Manny. So I don’t think there are any surprises there.
“If Manny’s going to have a shot at winning this he’s better off starting fast. I think it’s to his own detriment if he doesn’t start fast. So I think you see an attempt at starting fast by Manny.”
Early in the fight Floyd will focus on making Pacquiao miss in order to gain a psychological edge:
“I see Floyd just taking his time and just trying to get Pacquiao missing and take away the confidence of Pacquiao in his own offence. You do that by not only making him miss but at times you make him miss and [throw] those little pot-shot counters where you’re not stepping in totally with them because to step in fully with all your counters right off the bat you may be taking a risk with getting hit with a follow-up shot. So I think you’ll more see Floyd stepping in with pot-shot counters or not stepping in at all with counters and at times having Pacquiao miss altogether.”
Eventually Pacquiao will realise he can’t hurt Mayweather:
“So little by little the trick is — if Floyd is having his way — he’ll be able to frustrate Pacquiao into realising that, ‘The offence that I have that works so well is not working here.’ And then as the rounds go on and he starts to get the timing better off of Pacquiao’s misses and make him pay, he’ll start to be comfortable stepping in harder on the counters, and he’ll start to be comfortable leading more than he has been leading because I don’t think early on he’ll be leading a lot.”
By Round 4 Mayweather will start taking the fight to Pacquiao:
“I think he’ll start to take initiative and lead more as the fight wears on, probably about after Round 4 or so. And at that point once Pacquiao has got down and once Floyd has got more belief in his own offence besides the countering, it will be Floyd leading more and more.”
If that happens, the fight will be over because Pacquiao won’t be able to fight off his back foot:
“And I don’t know if Manny Pacquiao can fight on the back foot. We’ve yet to see him fight on the back foot. You would think that against Juan Manuel Marquez in all those close fights he would have tried to adjust and fight off the back foot but he never did. I don’t know that he even knows how to fight on the back foot. So if you back up Manny Pacquiao does he even know how to defend himself? I think that’s a key point in the fight because I do see Floyd eventually walking him down. If Pacquiao doesn’t know how to defend himself at that point, the fight becomes one-sided.”
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, would (obviously) take exception with the assumption that Pacquiao won’t be able to touch Mayweather early in the fight. Roach thinks that Pacquiao has an inherent advantage because he’s a southpaw, which will making Mayweather’s signature shoulder roll — a dominant defensive tactic — less effective.
Mayweather is around a -200 betting favourite at most sportsbooks, meaning you’ll have to bet $US100 to win $US50. Pacquiao’s odds are around +175, meaning a $US100 bet will win $US175.
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