The Times' boxing experts weigh in on who will win Saturday's mega-fight between undefeated
our opinions are divided about the outcome.
Pacquiao wins a shocker. He hurts, and eventually TKO's Mayweather.
Much talk going into this fight is about speed and age and offense and defense. Mostly ignored is pressure.
Mayweather faces lots of it, mostly self-induced, because of the pride he takes in his unbeaten record. Fans are getting onto that. One chanted loudly and repeatedly, at a Pacquiao pep rally Tuesday morning, "47-1, 47-1." To Mayweather, that "1" would be an intolerable blemish. He doesn't tolerate, or even harbor, thoughts of imperfections.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, would suffer little damage to his legacy — and make no mistake, this fight is about legacy for both boxers. Pacquiao has lost before. He is 3-2 in his last five fights. He got knocked out — cold, flat, out — in the same ring in which he will take on Mayweather on Saturday. The pressure to remain unbeaten will make Mayweather more defensive and free Pacquiao to be more offensive.
Pacquiao by TKO
The bet on Floyd Mayweather Jr. to win by decision has drawn plenty of money at the Nevada sports books. But this test against Manny Pacquiao feels different. The Filipino has turned in an intense training camp in Hollywood, and he craves being an underdog.
Pacquiao has studied and sparred intently, establishing with trainer Freddie Roach's assistance, the best formula to maximize the use of his left-handed power against the unbeaten Mayweather. Mayweather has been hit more often in recent bouts, and he's dealing with a fast-legged foe for the first time in years who can match his cardio endurance and possesses more power. In training camp Mayweather worked on developing his upper-body strength, which has some thinking he'll pursue a knockout.
Roach thinks Pacquiao can win a decision with volume punching, and astute attention to Mayweather's counterpunching.
Expect a close fight that'll end in the judge's hands, and the nod should go to Pacquiao.
Pacquiao by decision
Given the hype this fight has generated, Pacquiao is likely to feel pressure to force the action against the defensive-minded Mayweather and that could work to Mayweather's advantage.
Pacquiao, a well-worn boxer at 36, has fought 17 more fights and 44 more rounds than the 38-year-old Mayweather, who is noticeably bulked up. And stamina and strength will be important since neither man has won by knockout in nearly four years.
Mayweather preys on mistakes by his opponents and Pacquiao isn't likely to make many. But expect Mayweather to do just enough to win a split decision.
Mayweather by decision
Will this latest, greatest Fight of the Century live up to the hype or be a real-life version of older-than-dirt characters played by Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone in "Grudge Match"? This would have been a great fight five years ago and Manny Pacquiao would have surely won. But age has been kinder to Floyd Mayweather Jr. than to Pacquiao.
Expect Pacquiao to establish the center of the ring early, grabbing a few rounds with some shots that don't really hurt. Mayweather will be doing his usual punch-and-run strategy, also without hurting Pacquiao. As the fight goes on, Pacquiao's frustration will get the best of him and Mayweather will start to land more frequently.
It goes 12, with Mayweather getting a majority decision, winning on two cards and a draw on the third. But it will be clear who won the fight.
Mayweather by decision
Given the ages of Mayweather and Pacquiao, this is a seniors boxing tour match. Sometimes, though, a pairing of older boxers produces a compelling fight — think Ali-Frazier and the Thrilla in Manila — because they don't have the speed to get away from each other and must slug it out.
Based on recent fights Pacquiao still has enough left to push the action, a tactic Mayweather avoids. Mayweather prefers fighting in 60-second bursts and playing defense the rest of the time to steal rounds on the judges' scorecards. So the heavy punch volume is a plus for Pacquiao. But the Filipino's toughest bouts have been against Juan Manuel Marquez, a defensive specialist and a first-rate counterpuncher with a dangerous right.
Mayweather is a much better talent than Marquez. Look for this to be a close decision, but it goes to Mayweather.