THIS early, most of the queries from my fellow boxing aficionados have been about my KO prediction for Manny against “Money”.
I have explained in my previous column that my prediction is based largely on the mental state of both fighters and I believe Manny’s will to win is stronger, plus the fact that between the two of them, he has nothing much to lose in this fight.
On the other hand, Mayweather’s unbeaten streak, his legacy, his current status as top pound-for-pound boxer will be precariously on the line.
All of these considerations add up to a psychological tipping point, and this is why I give the edge to the unperturbed Pacman.
Opponents. The mental game aside, how will Manny be able to do it, strategy-wise?
Well, while Mayweather has a big fat zero on his loss column, there have been a couple of close calls that could arguably have tarnished that immaculate record.
Let’s take a look at these fights and see what we can learn from his previous opponents when trying to solve the Mayweather conundrum.
Golden boy. Oscar de la Hoya nearly pulled it off back in May 5 2007. That fateful night, the Golden Boy lost via a razor thin split decision, but he unveiled a blue print that most of Mayweather’s opponents can very well adopt.
In the early stages, Oscar would fire the jab and then bull-rush Floyd into the ropes where he would pummel him with combinations.
Floyd won the rounds when the action was in the center of the ring, but when Oscar was able to pin him along the ropes, the latter did some damage.
Oscar was able to do this because he had two things going for him: size and speed. His size allowed him to push around Mayweather and the speed in his punches kept Floyd constantly on the defensive.
Plus, he had the stamina early in the fight to throw punches in bunches as he bullied Mayweather along the ropes.
Oscar lost steam in the second half of the fight as his activity waned, but this strategy worked for him and Oscar was able to pile up the rounds early in the cards.
Judah. Zab Judah fought Mayweather back in 2006 in a foul-infested encounter that saw corner men from both fighters get in on the action.
In the tenth round, Judah scored with a shot to the Mayweather family jewels and while Floyd was grimacing around the ring, uncle Roger took umbrage and confronted Zab.
Yoel Judah came to his son’s aide and threw a punch at Roger, after which a melee ensued.
Somehow, they miraculously got the fight to start again and Mayweather recovered enough to dominate Judah and win via majority decision.
But lost in all bedlam was the fact that Judah was actually outboxing Floyd for the first half of the fight and was matching him punch for punch.
In the second round, a Judah right hook landed and caused Floyd to lean with his left hand to maintain his balance, which rightfully should have been ruled a knockdown.
More importantly, Judah found a home for that straight left hand down the pipe and hurt Floyd in the fourth with a booming left that caused the latter to cover immediately.
So what did we get from this fight? Before Judah imploded, his speed and southpaw stance was clearly giving Floyd problems.
But like Oscar, Judah ran out of gas and by the championship rounds, his punches had no more snap and his leaky defense allowed Floyd to pile up more points.
(To be concluded on Sunday with Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana)
Last Rounds. Are on Brandy Llenos and the father and son tandem of Atty. Oscar Tan Jr. and Oscar “Third” Tan who are celebrating their birthdays this week. Cheers! (firstname.lastname@example.org)