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Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao: How "Money" cashed in yet again

Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao
Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime

By Will Cooling for Wrestling Observer.com

Six years to the day he announced the end of his premature retirement, the pay per view king and number one pound for pound fighter in boxing today, Floyd Mayweather, has secured his greatest victory of an illustrious career. In the biggest money fight of all time, he was untouchable. On most people’s scorecards, he took eight out of the twelve rounds and never seemed in danger of losing.

How did he do it? Well that says something about Mayweather and a lot about Manny Pacquiao.

Mayweather had clearly built a strategy to nullify his opponent. Aware that like many brawlers, the Filipino relies on establishing a rhythm, he set out to stop him from building any momentum. Whereas usually he is content to be the one fighting off the back foot, Mayweather repeatedly came forward while throwing jabs to force Pacquiao on defence. Such punches also made good use of Mayweather’s height and reach advantage so making it more difficult for Pacquiao to get in on the inside where he could do the most damage. On the rare occasions Pacquiao threatened, Mayweather would hold and cynically wait for the referee to call for a break.

Mayweather also did a great job of controlling the ring. Aware that Pacquiao loves to put flurries together and that no matter how well you block the punches a defending fighter always risks the aggressor being rewarded simply for showing initiative, Mayweather made sure not to be trapped. In many ways he had learnt the lesson of his fights with other pressure fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya and even Ricky Hatton where they stole rounds simply by looking busier. A good example of this shift in tactics was that whilst normally he is happy to rest on the ropes against Pacquiao he preferred to take the centre of the ring.

Pacquiao seemed unable to find an answer to the challenge Mayweather posed. When kept at bay by the jab he seemed painfully flatfooted as he was exposed as being unable to cut the ring off and trap Mayweather. When he got close, he lacked either the speed or the timing, to correctly pitch his famed in-and-out attacking style to evade the grabs of Mayweather. Instead he was often left lamely looking at the referee to punish clinching, something that is almost always a lost cause. And when he did get Mayweather on the ropes it was usually because the American was seeking to recover from a big punch landed just beforehand.

That Pacquiao was found wanting in his ultimate challenge should not be a surprise. Mayweather was always a nightmare style match-up for him. The warning signs were clear in the first fight after the negotiations for them to meet in 2010 broke down as Pacquiao struggled to breakdown a passive Joshua Clottey. Worse was to follow as he was made to look flat-footed and sluggish when an old Shane Mosley tried to hide his tiredness by uncharacteristically fighting ultra-defensively for 12 mind-numbingly boring rounds.

In an unusually astute comment, one of Sky’s commentators remarked that whereas Pacquiao can only do one thing, Mayweather can seemingly do everything. That is very true. Pacquiao likes being able to march forward and land combinations. Give him an opponent who is too slow or too brave to evade him then he looks unbelievably good but ask him to break down a defensive opponent and his lack of ringmanship is exposed.  

What was surprising is that despite losing round after round due to not being able to break Mayweather down Pacquiao never threw caution to the wind by trying to barge through and land the big punch he needed. The fact he never did so is probably an after-effect of Juan Manuel Marquez knocking him out with a counterpunch in 2012. This is newfound sense of caution is the one area where he’s undoubtedly a lesser fighter than the one Mayweather should’ve faced in 2010. That said the caution may have stopped him being caught by the type of counterpunch that allowed Mayweather to finish Ricky Hatton.

Other than that this was no less a diminished Pacquiao than Mayweather has lost a step since both men’s 2009-2011 peak. The Fight of the Century was always going to end one no matter whether it took six weeks to negotiate or six years. That is, with Floyd Mayweather standing victorious after picking apart his wrecking ball of a rival in a scientific masterclass.   

Will Cooling is a regular contributor to Fighting Spirit Magazine, the UK's biggest and best pro-wrestling monthly. Available worldwide through its Apple and Android App. In this month’s issue he wrote about the history of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao and what it says about effective combat sports promotion. FSM is available in all good British newsagents and internationally.