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Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao: Head to head analysis

Fighters Network

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Manny Pacquiao has proven that the reports of his decline after his shocking one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 were premature. Since losing back-to-back bouts to Tim Bradley (by controversial split decision) and Marquez, Pacquiao has outclassed Brandon Rios, outpointed Bradley in their rematch and dominated Chris Algieri.

Pacquiao may not be the offensive dynamo he was during his peak years of 2008 and 2009 but the eight-division titleholder is still a force to be reckoned with. In fact, the 20-year veteran has exhibited the kind of patience and ring generalship in his recent victories that may trouble Mayweather, who struggled a bit in his two physical 12-round encounters with Marcos Maidana last year.

With those points in mind, THE RING presents a head-to-head analysis of what many believe will be the biggest boxing event in history in terms of money generated, media exposure and worldwide fan interest.

How will the two future first-ballot Hall of Famers match up in the ring? Doug Fischer, the Editor of, compares Mayweather and Pacquiao in 20 categories, both physical and intangible, with each fighter rated on a scale of 0 to 5. (A score of 100 would denote the perfect fighter.)


Mayweather slightly edges Pacquiao in one-punch hand speed and reflexes. However, Pacquiao still possesses world-class hand speed and appears to deliver multi-punch combinations a bit more quickly than Mayweather.

Mayweather – 4.5, Pacquiao – 4.5


Mayweather has near-perfect foot placement and excellent footwork while Pacquiao is sublimely coordinated with nimble feet that he often uses to befuddle boxers.

Mayweather – 4.0, Pacquiao – 4.0


Mayweather’s lead hand is more of a tactical tool than a damaging weapon. He uses his jab and left hook to set up or compliment right-hand power shots. Pacquiao’s right isn’t his primary power hand but it carries a lot of force.

Mayweather – 3.5, Pacquiao – 4.0


Pacquiao’s left has always been his bread-and-butter punch and is still a force, as Algieri can attest to. Mayweather’s right hand carries underrated pop but its effectiveness has more to do with its accuracy than its power.

Mayweather – 4.0, Pacquiao – 4.5


Mayweather’s jab is technically perfect and his go-to punch. Pacquiao’s jab is sharp and educated. He expertly uses it to set up his powerful straight left.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.5


Mayweather has an excellent hook in terms of technique and accuracy but it’s not a punch he uses often. Pacquiao’s hook, which he developed after years of Freddie Roach’s instruction, is a formidable weapon but not one that he instinctively uses in the ring.

Mayweather – 4.5, Pacquiao – 4.0


Pacquiao’s left cross is still quick, powerful and accurate, and it’s still his most effective punch. He doesn’t use uppercuts nearly as much as he once did but he delivers them with good leverage. Mayweather’s right hand has enough power to earn respect from the most durable of opponents. Like his jab, his straight right – which he often leads with – is delivered with nearly perfect timing and technique.

Mayweather – 4.5, Pacquiao – 5.0


Mayweather and Pacquiao don’t go to the body often but both veterans land with power and precision when they do.

Mayweather – 4.0, Pacquiao – 4.0


Pacquiao is more dangerous when attacking from a distance but thanks to good footwork, combination punching and fast reflexes, he can do a lot of damage when in close. Mayweather does more defending and neutralizing than punching when in the trenches but he’s a capable infighter.

Mayweather – 3.5, Pacquiao – 4.0


Mayweather appears to be the better preserved of the two veterans. He struggled at times with the free-swinging Maidana but exhibited prime speed, reflexes and mobility against Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez in 2013. Pacquiao is no longer in his prime but he’s a once-in-a-generation athletic talent, as evidenced by his ability to compete at the world-class level from flyweight to welterweight.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.5


Mayweather, who has gone the 12-round distance 17 times, paces himself over the championship distance better than any active boxer. Pacquiao, who has fought 12 rounds 13 times (14 times counting the Miguel Cotto stoppage, which occurred in the 12th), is no endurance slouch, either. Both veterans have shown the ability to come on strong in the late rounds.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.5


Mayweather showed some signs of slippage in this department against Maidana but he’s still one of the sport’s best defensive ring generals and will go down as one of the best in boxing history. Pacquiao’s head- and upper-body movement isn’t as good as it was six or seven years ago but his in-and-out footwork makes him hard to hit.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.0


Mayweather is a superbly gifted all-around athlete who has totally dedicated himself to year-round training. Pacquiao is blessed with otherworldly athletic talent but isn’t always in 100 percent physical shape for his fights (though even at 80 percent he’s in better condition than most world-class boxers).

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.5


Being in the spotlight and under pressure is second nature to both boxers. Mayweather craves attention and seems to feed off the media’s obsession with him (even when it’s negative). Pacquiao is one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet and a bona fide hero in his native Philippines, where he is a congressman.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 5.0


Pacquiao, once one of boxing’s most reliable finishers, has gotten a bit soft with age. He hasn’t scored a knockout since the Cotto fight and he wasn’t trying to force that stoppage. Mayweather’s defensive style and aversion to risk-taking in the ring prevents him from going for the KO.

Mayweather – 3.0, Pacquiao – 4.0


Mayweather is among the smartest pure boxers in the sport. Few active fighters can control a match or dissect an opponent as well as he does. Pacquiao’s ring IQ is a bit underrated, as is the case with many offensive fighters. He has methods to his offense and he usually follows game plans well.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 4.0


Thanks to his awesome defense, Mayweather’s chin is a bit underrated but he’s survived bombs (and wobbly moments) from some heavy hitters, including Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. Until Marquez knocked him cold, Pacquiao had shown very good whiskers, having taken solid shots from Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Mosley without blinking.

Mayweather – 4.5, Pacquiao – 4.0


Pacquiao, who has been a pro for 20 years, has fought 407 rounds in 64 bouts. Mayweather, an 18-year pro, has fought 363 rounds in 47 bouts. They’ve both faced a Who’s Who of boxing during the past two decades.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 5.0


Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have faced more than a dozen world titleholders, including numerous future Hall of Famers. Pacquiao has fought some more than once, such as Marquez (four time), Morales (three) and Marco Antonio Barrera (twice).

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 5.0


Pacquiao’s longtime coach is the most accomplished active trainer in boxing, recent Hall of Fame inductee Freddie Roach. Mayweather is currently trained by his father, who obviously did a masterful job with his son but has also demonstrated his ability by guiding Oscar De La Hoya, Chad Dawson and Steve Forbes to world-title victories.

Mayweather – 5.0, Pacquiao – 5.0

Total: 90 (Mayweather), 88 (Pacquiao)

Summary and prediction: Mayweather will beat Pacquiao to the jab and score with clean right hands in the early rounds of the bout. However, once the Filipino hero warms up in the middle rounds, his quick southpaw combinations will back the undefeated American to the ropes where the odds favorite might experience a wobbly moment or two. The two stars will go tit for tat in the late rounds before Mayweather figures out how to contain Pacquiao with jab-and grab tactics down the stretch of an entertaining (though not thrilling) championship bout.

Mayweather wins a close, perhaps split or controversial, decision.

[Editor’s Note: This story for the May 2015 edition of THE RING was written before the fight was made. That’s how things are done in the magazine world, kids. Despite the considerable odds and political factors that favor Mayweather — his company leading the promotion, a hometown referee, sketchy judges, etc. — as well as an unprecedented amount of negative pre-fight rumors about Pacquiao — leg cramps, shin splints, damaged hands, bum right shoulder, being dropped in sparring multiple times, you name it — our intrepid editor changed his pick to Pacquiao by close but unanimous decision. You get to do that when you’re a journalistic rock star like Dougie.]