The two finest boxers of their generation collide at the MGM Grand in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Here we contrast their strengths.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER V MANNY PACQUIAO COMPARISON
SPEED: Both are exceptionally quick, but in different ways. Mayweather’s reflexes are lightening fast, enabling him to evade punches and counter with pinpoint single shots. Pacquiao’s strength lies in throwing rapid combinations in short, sharp bursts at a pace he is able to sustain over 12 rounds.
POWER: Pacquiao has not stopped an opponent since toppling Miguel Cotto in 2009, but the eight-weight champion is the bigger hitter with the straight southpaw left his most concussive shot. Discounting the sucker punch that dispatched Victor Ortiz, Mayweather’s last early night came against Ricky Hatton eight years ago.
FOOTWORK: Another strength shared by both fighters that takes alternative forms. Mayweather glides around the ring with flawless footwork, using his clever placement to command space. While less slick, Pacquiao is able to dance in an out of range and attack from different angles.
RINGCRAFT: Mayweather is a master tactician with the ability to adapt to challenges as they unfold, using the opening rounds to work out his opponent. By the second half of the fight he is in full control and picks apart his foe with clinical efficiency. Since his knockout by Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao has proved more cautious but he will never outthink Mayweather.
CHIN: Mayweather’s defensive expertise means his chin is rarely tested, although when he has been caught he has shown his survival instincts, most notably in riding a big right hand from Shane Mosley five years ago. Pacquiao has been knocked out three times. Two of those were early in his career and can be discounted, but it is the sickening blow landed by Marquez that places his ongoing punch resistance under the microscope.
VERDICT: Bookmakers view Mayweather as 1/2 favourite - Pacquiao is widely available at 15/8 - and it is hard to look beyond the Las Vegas resident extending his flawless record to 48 victories. Pacquiao will surely apply relentless pressure, but Mayweather’s ring intelligence will pick the Filipino apart for a unanimous points victory.
*Five opponents have shared a ring with both Mayweather and Pacquiao en route to the rivals’ eagerly-waited showdown in Las Vegas.
While timings, circumstances, styles and weights make performances against their common foes an imperfect form guide, the results can help inform predictions.
Here, we examine their fortunes against the five.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA
Mayweather wins split decision, 2007
Pacquiao wins RTD 8, 2008
A year after dropping a split decision to Mayweather, De La Hoya’s outstanding career was brought to a brutal end by Pacquiao. It was the last time Pacquiao entered a fight as underdog amid the belief the move up to welterweight would see him overwhelmed by a far bigger opponent, but instead it was a weight-drained De La Hoya who was crushed as the Filipino produced a career highlight.
Mayweather wins TKO 10, 2007
Pacquiao wins KO 2, 2009
Hatton’s gameplan of putting Mayweather under pressure was clinically picked apart by the pound for pound king’s pinpoint accuracy and counter-punching. Once again, however, it was the blazing fists of Pacquiao that sent another fine boxer into retirement as Hatton was flattened by a chilling left hand in the second round that knocked him unconscious. Hatton’s preparations were troubled by divisions within his camp, but he admits to not having foreseen Pacquiao’s concussive punching power.
JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
Mayweather wins unanimous decision, 2009
Pacquiao draws, 2004
Pacquiao wins split decision, 2008
Pacquiao wins majority decision, 2011
Pacquiao loses KO 6, 2012
The odds were stacked heavily in Mayweather’s favour for a fight that marked his comeback after nearly two years out of the ring, his failure to make the contracted 144lbs weight by 2lbs meaning he was forced to surrender a portion of his purse to Marquez. Marquez, who had never previously boxed above 135lbs but now scaled 142lbs, was schooled, yet it is the Mexican who has given Pacquiao problems like no other fighter, culminating in the savage one-shot knockout three years ago that placed the Filipino’s career in grave doubt.
Mayweather wins unanimous decision, 2010
Pacquiao wins unanimous decision, 2011
Mosley was dominated by both fighters, dropping a pair of landslide points decisions, but for a moment of the second round against Mayweather a stunning upset seemed possible. A straight right hand had Mayweather in trouble, but the Las Vegas resident recovered brilliantly and went on to produce a technical masterclass. Pacquiao’s win was every bit as comprehensive with Mosley never properly recovering from a third-round knock down. It was not the cautious American’s finest hour with his desire to touch gloves at every opportunity drawing criticism.
Mayweather wins unanimous decision, 2012
Pacquiao wins TKO 12, 2009
Cotto gave Mayweather one of his most gruelling nights, enhancing his own reputation in the process. The tough Puerto Rican drew blood from the nose of his opponent and there were frequent exchanges before Mayweather’s accuracy took its toll in the latter stages of the fight. Three years earlier, Pacquiao had produced probably a career-best performance against the same foe. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight in the 12th round after a battered Cotto had been subdued by the speed and power of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao would appear to have the upper hand when his demolition of De LA Hoya, Hatton and Cotto are compared to Mayweather’s less emphatic victories over De La Hoya and Cotto, but it is perhaps the fights against Marquez that offer the more revealing clues. The counter-punching Mexican may have won only one of his four clashes with Pacquiao, but it was his style that gave him the greatest difficulties. And of the five opponents, it is the skilful Marquez who has the most similar style to Mayweather.