Looking at Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, From a Historical Perspective
By Joey from the Pound, Doghouse Boxing (May 17, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo - Chee, DHB)
Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao
I"ll get this out of the way right off the bat, this is an opinionated piece, but backed with facts and based off of my knowledge of historians and their opinions on previous careers. This isn't about "what could have been", or "this fighter was potentially better than"...This is about what these two fighters actually did in their perspective careers, at least thus far and if they called it quits today how I predict they may be viewed in 2 or 3 decades from now.

Floyd Mayweather, if anyone was ever born into a boxing legacy, this kid was. A prodigy, a fighting father who had fought for a title, two uncles who both fought for minor and major titles, a kid who was taught to throw a jab correctly by two years of age. Floyd wasn't the typical "athletes kid", he wasn't exactly pampered. Floyd Senior isn't exactly father of the year type material, often gone, with his career. Floyd probably wasn't lavished with everything he wanted. He wasn't a poor street kid barely getting by, but he wasn't Ricky Schroder from "Silver Spoons" either.

Floyd had probably the best teachers from an early age that you can get, 3 men that are now top trainers in boxing. He didn't just have this training for 2 or 3 years, he was being trained his entire life. Imagine you go from dad's house to stay the night with uncle Roger or uncle Jeff, get over there and they are teaching you their own moves. Floyd, how could he have been anything less than what he is unless he was just not blessed with any talent whatsoever?

Manny Pacquiao is the definition of a hard luck case. He was born in a poverty stricken area of the Philippines, with 5 siblings along with himself his mother could not afford to feed the family after his father left to live with another woman. Manny dropped out of high-school and moved out at the age of 14 simply because his mother couldn't afford to feed all the kids.

Manny had no boxing experience, that I know of, until he left home at the age of 14. He supposedly started street boxing, then stumbled into a gym and was good enough to make the Philippine National team. I have read he had an amateur record of 60-4 but have no way of verifying this. In my opinion he had little experience going into the pros, especially high level experience, and certainly without the high pedigree training and experience of American amateur training. This set Manny up for his early losses, turning pro at only 16 years of age. Manny was 4' 11" tall when he turned professional, tipping the scales at a whopping 98 pounds (stuffing his pockets with weights to make the 105 pound limit). Basically a child going into the professional ranks against men. Although he did fight fairly low level competition he was still fighting grown men, with a growing body, growing physically and mentally. Mentally a man rarely hits his mental prime, his "Alpha maleness" until around the age of 21 and up, Pac didn't even know, like most of us, who he was or what he wanted in those early years...

Floyd meanwhile was groomed, almost like these families of politicians, to be a boxer, sort of the Kennedy's of boxing...(okay that might be a stretch). But here is a kid with all kinds of talent in his family, but he's not a spoiled kid and I'm sure dad and uncles forced Floyd to be tough. You take a football dad who was minorly successful in high-school and see how intense that dad is with his kids. I imagine that Floyd Mayweather Sr. pushed Floyd to be great and I'm sure it wasn't easy living up to what old dad was pushing on him.

Floyd won National Gold Gloves 3 times with his beautiful fundamentally sound defense and nice offensive arsenal as well as some of the better god given talent in boxing. Floyd went on to an overall amateur record, against the best amateur competition in the world of 84-6 with at least a couple of controversial losses along the way. Floyd fought in the 1996 Olympics and won a bronze medal but lost a controversial decision to a Bulgarian fighter in which even the referee believed Floyd had won by mistakenly raising Floyd's hand as the Bulgarian's name was called as the winner.

Floyd went on to turn professional after the disappointment of the Olympics, turning pro in 1996 at the age of 19 in the super featherweight (130 pound division), young but almost fully grown physically. Floyd dominated his early competition and won his first world tittle 3 years later in one of his best victories in defeating (formerly unbeaten at 130) Genaro Hernandez. Floyd went on to battle solid competition for nearly a decade, with the highlight of his career, dominating in a one-sided beating of a very good young Diego Corrales (still I think Floyd's greatest victory til this day). Floyd later went on to fight popular star fighters (not necessarily great), Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton, Oscar Delahoya, Zab Judah, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Sugar Shane Mosley. Only 2 of those fights was competitive at all, the Hatton and Delahoya fights, the latter of which was actually a split decision win for Floyd. Through all of this Floyd fairly dominated fighters other than Castillo and Delahoya, however Floyd fought a lot of tough solid guys and to Floyd's credit, the few times Floyd has been hurt, or taken a good shot and felt embarrassed he has come back with a fury and fought like a true champion. In my mind, there is no doubt that, when pushed, Floyd has that champion heart and that competitive drive to win and to prove he's great.

Pacquiao in the meantime was struggling in the Philippines against his early competition. Either from growing into his body and trying to find a balance of the correct weight to be fighting at, and dieting to cut weight thinking he needed to be at these lower weights, etc, bad business management and bad matchup decisions. Pac, at this time no one could have predicted anything for him, he could have just been one of the millions of foreign fighters that never got a chance for the big time here in America or on the world stage, like so many other Asian fighters...Pacquaio went on to win his first 12 fights and his weight went from 108 pounds to 113 quickly. Pac was knocked out in his first loss in his 13th fight. He had not been able to make the weight as he was quickly growing and struggling to maintain weight and was forced to wear heavier gloves and wasn't able to damage his opponent. Pacquaio again went on another winning streak before being knocked out, once again, but by a much better fighter in "3K Battery". Again Pac had not made weight and suffered for that once again.

At this time Pacquaio was gaining what many of us call, "man weight", as anyone knows who deals with high-school sports, the size and weight difference, muscle, power and speed from the age of 16 to 18 is a huge gap. Manny had went from a 16 year old 98 pound kid to a naturally 125 pound young man. Manny skips 2-weight divisions and goes up to junior feather (122 pounds) and gets his first huge break. He gets a replacement fight as Lehlohonolo Ledwaba's opponent had to pull out, Manny takes the fight on 2-weeks notice and shocks the world...or shocks the few of us that may have watched that fight. He certainly shocked the HBO boxing analyst crew. This lead up to probably the defining moment in Manny Pacquiao's career, a fight against legendary Mexican champion, Marco Antonio Barrera. Early on in that bout I think all of us felt that every shot that Barrera landed, would be the last, and this little Filipino flash would hit the canvas. By round 4, and after every single shot Barrera would land and Pacquaio would just throw his hands up in the air as if to say, "good shot, bring on another one cause it isn't going to matter", I myself knew I was watching a different kind of fighter, potentially something special. Pac went on to out heart Barrera, with his power and relentless attitude he wore the great Barrera down and stopped him. This all lead on to Pacquiao fighting 2 great Mexican legends (Barrera and Morales), and one very solid Mexican champ, Juan Manuel Marquez. And then later I suppose the icing on the cake and the big money fights with Ricky Hatton, Delahoya, Cotto, and the horrible Mosley fight.

Now that I've tried to establish the history, sort of paralleled their careers, and noting the different ways these two guys have came up, it boils down, from a historical perspective, as to who they have actually fought. To be in the Hall of Fame, generally, you have to have fought either a host of other world champions or former world champions, or to have fought 2 or 3 other "All-Time Greats". So, and this is going to be my opinion, but also what I know will be fact when it's all said and done. Here's a list of "ATG's" that these 2 fighters have fought, no matter when they fought them, or what the conditions were, this is what history will say.

Floyd Mayweather's All-Time Great opponents:

Oscar Delahoya (1 fight, split decision win)
Shane Mosley (1 fight, lopsided beating after weathering one time of being hurt)

Manny Pacquaio All-Time Great opponents:

Marco Antonio Barrera (2 fights and 2 wins, 1 competitive fight early, but pressure and power turned into a beating and stoppage, the other a 1 sided attack with Barrera trying to box and survive)

Eric Morales (3 fights, 2 wins, the first a boxing lesson from the great Morales with Pacquiao trying to come on late, clear win for Morales. The 2nd a competitive bout with Pacquaio's power hurting MOrales and a stoppage in the 10th, and the 3rd a horrendous beatdown of a former great fighter, Morales stopped in the 3rd round)

Oscar Delahoya (1 fight, a one-sided affair, Pacquaio's speed and movement is just too much for a bigger older Delahoya who took a gamble he would be strong enough to knock the much smaller man out, despite weakening himself to make the weight, Delahoya quits on his stool in the 8th)

Shane Mosley (1 fight, a one-sided offensive attack by Pac, and a shell of his former self Shane Mosley just trying to survive after an early knockdown from a very short Pacquaio shot, Shane makes it to the final bell and has still never been knocked out in his career)

So, if we tally that, Floyd has 2 fights, in his entire and not very impressive in the number, 41 wins, only 2 of those are against all-time greats, and there was no rematch, although there was no need for the Mosley rematch. So Floyd has 2 wins over ATG's, 2 fights against ATG's, total. Floyd has faced and defeated at 16 title holders that I know of, for a total of 17 fights since he fought Castillo who was a title holder, twice.

Pacquiao has faced 4 all-time greats, at various stages of their careers, none in their absolute prime (just like Floyd), and Pacquiao has faced 16 title holders, just like Floyd, for a total of 20 fights since he fought MOrales, Marquez, and Barrera more than once. He also has a total of 7 fights against All-Time greats since he faced Morales 3 times, barrera twice, and then Oscar and Shane.

Historically, down the road, if someone is just a reader and reads this, unless Pacquiao is caught doing PEDS, or Floyd and he fight and Floyd totally dominates him, then Pacquiao's legacy is great than Floyd Mayweather's.

Floyd may kind of be thought of in the way Sugar Ray Leonard was thought of, in terms of his longevity, or his workrate. Neither have Hall of Fame, or All-Time Great types of numbers and haven't fought as frequently as most HOF's and ATG's. A lot of what we went off of for Leonard was his physical talent and skill, potential, however he fought a lot of ATG fighters while they were still in or very close to their primes. He also fought them numerous times, 3 fights with Duran, 2 fights with Hearn, one with Hagler, and one with Benitez. Leonard was put on the fast track and faced some pretty tough competition early on, but still, ONLY 40 fights in total! Floyd Mayweather Jr., without having faced anyone of Hagler or Hearns caliber in their primes, and only has 41 fights, TOTAL!? Pacquiao isn't a whole lot better off, he's only fought 3 guys that are near their primes, only 2 of those were Hagler and Hearns type levels (Barrera and Morales), and he only has 58 fights, which is getting close to respectable levels, but still not quite an old school record.

I suppose, looking at this historically, Pacquiao is going to be the winner, if you want to place say one in the top 50 of all-time, or even the top 25, depending upon your own criteria, while the other is going to fall at least a couple of places below that. Neither have the record to merit, or the competition, or prime competition, a top 10 placing in almost any historians list. But if you look at it in the normal Hall of Fame criteria, Pac has more ATG's, more fights against ATG's as he's faced some of them multiple times, while Floyd has dominated, to some extent, fighter's more handily than Pacquiao has. It all boils down to the numbers, and just because you don't have a 0 in that loss column, doesn't make you great. I have an 0 in my professional fight column as well, you know why? Because I didn't fight anyone, period.

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