When we talk about modern day boxing legends there are a number of names that will remain immortal. One of those is Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38) who has really been one of the few true global stars of boxing over the last decade or so. Now, at the age of 38, Pacquiao is clearly coming to the end of his career but he is still a world champion and this coming weekend we'll see him defending his WBO Welterweight title against the little known Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11), who will be getting the opportunity of a life time. On paper the match is a huge mismatch, matching one of the all time greats against a man who has scarcely shown he's the best in his own country, however it could the birth of a new star and a national hero for Australia, which is rather lacking in terms of boxing stars right now.
When it comes to Pacquiao everything that can be said has already been said. He's a boxing hero of the Philippines who moved through the weights to claim world titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight and did so whilst defeating a who's who of boxing. Among those he defeated were Chatchai Sasakul, for his first world title back in 1998, Lehlo Ledwaba, in his US debut in 2001, Marco Antonio Barrera, twice, Erik Morales, twice, Juan Manuel Marquez, twice, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Timothy Bradley, twice.
At his best Pacquiao was a fearsome monster, destroying all in front of him and stopping fighters like Cotto, Hatton and Morales and Bareer. In later years that explosive destruction eluded him but his boxing had improved to the point where he could out box bigger and younger men like Chris Algieri and Jessie Vargas, and there was still enough spite in his shots to drop good fighters. Not only was he a monster in his prime but he had everything, frightening speed, destructive power, a great engine and the movement to confound and confuse opponents, who were unable to avoid what they simply couldn't see.
Aged 38, and with his 39th birthday coming in December, it's hard to know just how much Pacquiao has left in the tank. He's had 67 professional bouts, with more than 440 rounds and over 20 world title bouts and in recent years he has taken part in more and more out-of-the ring activity with politics and basketball both occupying his time. If he's even half the fighter he once was then he's still one of the best fighters on the planet, but there is certainly some slipping in his ability, and his hunger to finish opponents has seemingly vanished in recent years.
Aged 29 Jeff Horn is a fighter coming into his prime and he's a natural Welterweight who is now carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. Australia may not be a major boxing country but right now they really are lacking with the likes of Sakio Bika, Danny Green and Anthony Mundine all about done with their careers. That hope has been on his shoulders through out his career, following notable success in the amateurs which lead to Horn competing at the 2011 World Amateur Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
As a professional Horn has been fast tracked. In just his 5th bout he faced Samuel Colomban for the Australian title and since then has fought a string of decent fighters, including the likes of Viktor Plotnikov, Ahmed El Mousaoui, Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka. They have been decent opponents, and ones that would help prepare a fighter for a step up to world class, but unfortunately they don't prepare anyone for a fighter like Pacquiao. Even this current version of “Pacman”. Sadly if anything they have exposed chinks in Horn that Pacquiao and his team will look to make the most of.
In the ring Horn is a pretty decent boxer. There's nothing flashy or special about him. He doesn't have the most intense pressure style or the blink and you miss it speed that a top fighter needs, but he has good skills and under-rated power, with his KO over Colomban being a sensational 1-punch KO of a usually durable and tough guy. If he lands clean he can take opponents out, but landing against a world class fighter is much trickier than landing against fighters at domestic level.
Horn does have youth on his side here, but it's hard to imagine him being able to really test Pacquiao here. Instead this bout looks likely to be a real show case of Pacquiao, who should be looking for his first stoppage win since he stopped Miguel Cotto way back in 2009. Horn, who has been down before, simply isn't good enough, or prepared enough for someone like Pacquiao, who will have too much of everything, even at his advanced age, for the Aussie challenger.
Retirements in boxing are short, we've seen multiple fighters retire more than once. The latest great to retire and then un-retire, is Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) who retired back in April, follow his third bout against Timothy Bradley, but less than 7 months later to face WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10), who actually lost to Bradley himself in mid 2015.
Pacquiao's retirement, at the age of 37, wasn't hugely unexpected, and neither was his return to the ring. Though some did expect that he would be away from the ring for a bit longer than a meagre 7 months. At his age it's hard to say just what he has left, but he was dominant last time when he easily defeat Bradly, dropping the American twice and winning 116-110 on all 3 cards. Despite his age he is still one of the best fighters on the planet with under-rated skills, explosive power and speed and the experience that most other fights can only dream of.
Although not as destructive as he was in years gone by, at lower weights, Pacquiao is still a real handful for anyone and losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Juan Manuel Marquez in recent years don't change that. Especially not when you consider his relatively recent wins against the likes of Bradley, Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri, all of whom posed different stylistic questions of Pacquiao.
With his legacy safely sealed the Filipino is no longer fighting for his place in history. He's assured a place in the hall of fame, having won titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight, he's a national treasure of the Philippines and is a fighter who is now achieving things out of the ring, having become a senator in his homeland. With his off the ball there is a chance we will see Pacquaio be a shadow of the fighter who beat Bradley with ease, alternatively there is a chance that Pacquiao, fighting for himself, will be back to the fighter he once was knowing there is no pressure to fight for others. If we see Pacquiao return to being the destructive, aggressive, monster he once was then we might well see him looking unbeatable, as he looked years ago.
At the age of 27 Vargas is 10 years younger than Pacquiao and is in his physical pomp. That was seen clearly last time out when he scored his best stoppage win, stopping the previously unbeaten and highly touted Sadam Ali in 9 rounds. In his bout before that he came close to scoring an incredibly late stoppage against Tom Bradley, in a competitive losing effort. The loss to Bradley has been Vargas's only defeat in 28 bouts, over a career that started back in September 2008.
In the ring Vargas has been accused of being boxing, and early in his career he was certainly not an exciting fighter to watch. He was a busy fighter, who let his hands go on a frequent basis, but lacked power and rarely sat down on his shots. That lack of power lead to 10 straight decision wins between September 2011 and his 2015 loss to Bradley and led many to turn away from his bouts, however he has began sitting on punches more recent and has grown into a relatively fun fighter who a full fledged Welterweight and will tower over Pacquiao and have a clear reach advantage.
Whilst not regarded as a major star Vargas has actually been notching solid wins in recent years, even if some were controversial. Those wins include victories over the likes of Josesito Lopez, Steve Forbes, Aaron Martinez, Wale Omotoso, Khabib Allakhverdiev, Anton Novikov, Antonio DeMarco and Sadam Ali. Notably he has been proving himself against unbeaten fighters through his career, with 7 wins over unbeaten fighters including Ali (22-0), Novikov (29-0), Allakhverdiev (19-0) and Omotoso (23-0).
Up against Pacquiao we will see Vargas being forced to answer some serious questions. Will he be able to take Pacquiao's power, will he be able to establish his tempo and will he manage to use his youth and physical size to bully and out work the Filipino?
The popular opinion is that Pacquiao will easily over-come Vargas. He is, after all, Pacquiao, the great Filipino icon. But this really could turn out to be a passing of the torch fight with Vargas hold advantages in youth and size. We know Pacquiao has battered taller fighters, like Antonio Margarito and Chris Algieri, but that was years ago and this could be a much tougher ask. Saying that we do think Pacquiao will still have enough in the tank to reclaim the WBO Welterweight title, but we don't think this will be as easy as some are suggesting.
They say that in life the best things come to those who wait and that wine becomes finer with age. Sadly however things can also spoil with age, the waiting process can go on too long and things can over-cook and end up burned. Around 5 years ago we were all wanting to see Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38) battle against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr (47-0, 26). It was, essentially, the one bout that could capture the attention of every boxing fan. It was, at the time, the two top fighters in the sport facing each other whilst both were still in their primes. At the time Mayweather was 33 and had just schooled the great Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao on the other hand was 31 and had just decimated Miguel Cotto.
Since then both men have slipped. Pacquiao, now 36, has gone 7-2 (0), he's been iced by Marquez and his much vaunted power has seemingly vanished along with his killer instinct. What we have now is a Pacquiao who seems to have lost a lot of what made him so special and the stoppages over Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton are now looking like history. As for Mayweather, now 38, he's gone 7-0 (1) and has looked distinctly human in his last 2 bouts, both decision wins against Marcos Rene Maidana.
Despite the fact that neither man is what they used to be, the bout is now made and on May 2nd we finally see the two men sharing the ring together. The bout, the biggest in the history of the sport, will see the WBA, WBC and WBO Welterweight title all being unified. It will set all sorts of records, it will get the attention of the sporting world, and of course it will be the bout of the generation It will, essentially, decide the fighter of the generation and, regardless of the winner, it will leave many fans distraught at their man losing and many others jubilant that their man won. It will however feel, to some neutrals, like a bout that lost some shine due to the fact it took so long to get it done.
Anyway now that's out of the way lets look at what makes this bout so special. Firstly you have the two most popular fighters of their era and two men who have, essentially, been viewed as each others nemesis. Their achievements are both through the roof with world titles across a wide range of divisions. They are the two biggest draws in the sport, and among the very biggest draws across all of sport. Culturally they are different, they appeal to different sections of boxing fans yet they have both made themselves cross over stars. To many this bout is boxing's equivalent to the ultimate “good guy” Vs “bad guy” battle. Most importantly however they are seen not as contrasting men outside of the ring but also as contrasting men inside the ring. One has been a slippery counter puncher, a man who is so elusive in the ring that many describe him as the greatest defensive fighter ever whilst the other is an offensive buzzsaw who sliced through many of the sports premier names in destructive fashion.
Is that's last point that makes this bout what is it is. The best defensive fighter against one of the best offensive fighters. On paper we will find what is ultimately better, a sensational offence or a near unbreakable defense.
In the eyes of many Mayweather is the “bad guy” of boxing. He has spent time in jail and been involved in various out of the ring activities. He has happily told us he's “The Best Ever” and although incredibly talented he has made many fans tune in to see him lose. On the other hand he's an example of what boxing is truly about, he's a master in the sweet science and one of the best at hitting and not being hit. We won't pretend he's the most exciting fighter on the planet but it is magical to see him at his best, slipping shots and landing laser like counters, rolling the shoulder to just avoid a blow and making an opponent pay for having the gall to try and hit him.
Whilst Mayweather isn't evil he has happily painted himself into the corner of being the man many pay to hate. He is, to use a wrestling term, a “heel” and it's a role that he seems to be happy with having. It's a role that's allowed him to make so much money that he now goes by the moniker of “Money”.
To those same fans Pacquiao is the “good guy”, he's the family man, a man of the people and a national icon who has set his intentions on making a difference via the politics of his homeland. He has used his money to help his countrymen and has come across as a humble person, happy to be able to use his talent to further the lives of those less fortunate. Not only has he been a positive person outside of the ring but inside of it he is known for giving fans what they want with destructive performances of aggression. In terms of excitement there are few who can match the excitement Pacquiao has generated over he course of his career with his combinations, knockouts and brutal beat downs.
Again to use a wrestling analogy Pacquiao is the “baby face” though that's a role that he's formed more organically that Mayweather's “heel” persona. Pacquiao has become a by simply being a personable person as opposed to telling the world that he's a nice person.
The contrasts however go on and on. For example Mayweather is happy to tell the world he's his own boss, Pacquiao on the other hand has been open about being a fighter with Bob Arum as his boss. In many ways the only things they have in common is their chosen profession and their claim to being an all-time great.
When it comes to the actual fight we expect the action to start slowly. Whilst the men are massively different they are both respectful of their opponent. Neither man wants to make a mistake early. For the first few rounds it will be a frustrating affair to watch with neither man really letting their offense go. For Mayweather that's perfect in many ways with the fight being fought more at his pace, it will however limit his eye catching counters with Pacquiao giving fewer opportunities that than the American would have hoped for. Whilst Pacquiao will be able to frustrate Mayweather by being restrained he won't be imposing himself or his style, at least not from the off.
We expect the pace to heat up from round 4. That's typically the point where Mayweather begins to find his groove but also the point in the fight where Pacquiao will have to come alive. From then on we're expecting to see the great bursts of Pacquiao's offense against Mayweather's great defense. The bursts of 4 or 5 shots will keep Mayweather in his defensive shell, though openings will begin to appear in Pacquiao's defense. From then on things will become very interesting with both men unsure how the judges will score things. Will they be scoring for Pacquiao, who will be the aggressor, or for Mayweather who will be landing the better shots? That is anyone's guess and it's what will make the latter part of the fight so interesting.
Mayweather's biggest problem in recent fights has been his habit of cruising through rounds, especially late on. At 38 his energy isn't going to be what it once was and although he has great stamina he has been able to fight at his own pace against fighters with slow foot movement. Against Pacquiao he'll be rushed, he won't have the time to take a breather and he'll be fighting someone with similar footspeed. If he tries to take rounds off here it will bite him. Instead we expect Mayweather will have to fight for at least 2 minutes of every round and that will show later on as both men bite down on their gum shields and try to force the judges hands. We'll see Mayweather fighting more than he has done in years and we'll Pacquiao showing some of the fire many thought was gone.
We suspect that, come the final bell, it'll be anyone's guess as to who has done enough. Fans will back “their man” and feel like their guy has just done enough. Of course however it'll lay on the judges and we'd not be shocked to see any type of scorecards. That's partly because boxing throws up some weird scorecards and also partly the fact that we can see how both men win.
As a prediction we will edge with the younger man, Pacquiao to take a razor thin and highly controversial decision. The bout, whilst good, will fail to live up to expectation in the ring and although records will be shattered we won't be able to help but think it was this generation's Hagler Vs Leonard as opposed to the real mega fighter it could have been. Strangely we see the post-fight outcome also mirroring the Hagler Vs Leonard bout with Mayweather retiring after the contest, something we'd also expect him to do if he won.
We'll admit that this weekend is one of the busiest of the year so far with more notable world title action for ourselves than any other weekend. Despite the over-all activity for the day we are well aware that one bout stands out as being head and shoulders the biggest bout, not just of the weekend but the entire month of November.
That bout is the WBO Welterweight title fight between boxing megastar and current champion Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38) and unbeaten American, and all-round good guy, Chris Algieri (20-0, 8). The bout, being fought in Macau, is being seen as a major contest by all those in the boxing community and, as we've gotten closer to the bout, it appears more and more fans have began to give Algieri a real shot at the upset.
Algieri got the fight after announcing himself on to the boxing world with a hard fought and much debated decision win over "Russian Rocky" Ruslan Provodnikov. That bout saw Algieri put on a Rocky-esque performance picking himself off the canvas twice in the opening round, biting down on his gum shield and fighting his heart out despite a badly swollen eye to claim a narrow decision over Provodnikov to claim the WBO Light Welterweight title. The win over Provodnikov prevented any further talk about a Pacquiao Vs Provodnikov bout and put Algieri into the driving seat for a Pacquiao fight that was agreed relatively soon after Algieri's win.
Out of the ring Algieri is the perfect good guy. He's articulate, smart, charming and very likable. He's everything that a fighter should be out of the ring and is full of respect for his sport, people in general and of course his opponents. There is no real bluster about him, you won't hear him yelling about how good he is and you won't see him try and convince the world that he is a once in a generation super talent. Instead of being cocky and arrogant Algieri is a fighter who comes across as well educated and a man who knows he's got a great chance to go from a "good guy" to a mega star.
The educated guy outside of the ring also fights like an educated and well schooled guy inside the ring. He bases almost everything off the jab, movements intelligently and although he was caught under the Provodnikov storm early on he steadied himself, took a knee, took his time and began to work out the Russian whilst using his foot work to prevent Provodnikov from setting himself. It was the type of performance that you would almost expect from Algieri if you've had the chance to listen to him talk. It was also the type of performance that showed he had skills, toughness and heart, the type of qualities that could have make the kid with the million dollar smile a star.
Of course whilst Algieri wants to become a star Manny Pacquiao already is a star and is one of the few global names in boxing. The Filipino icon is a boxing star, a professional basketball player, an actor, a singer, a politician and most importantly a hero to his countrymen. Like Algieri he is one of boxing's "good guys", a fighter who respects his opponents, keeps the trash talk to a minimum whilst letting his hands do the talking in the ring. It's fair to say he's never going to offend large swathes of the boxing community or say something just to cause controversy.
Although similar in demeanor out of the ring the two fighters have very contrasting styles. Algieri, as mentioned, is a thinker with a boxers mentality basing things off his jab, movement and control of distance. Pacquiao on the other hand is an animal, a whirring dervish, a destructive machine looking to leave chaos in his wake. At his best the Filipino is a frightening fighter to be up against with a dynamite left hand, under-rated boxing skills and offensive mentality which, for a long time, seemed to make him the complete opposite to Floyd Mayweather in terms of style as well as personality. Quick, powerful and destructive Pacquiao can spit out opponents in double quick fashion, just ask Ricky Hatton, whilst he can also grind them out and break them bit by bit, as he did against Miguel Cotto.
To make himself a star Pacquiao had to take risks. That is shown not only in his style of fighting, which is genuinely exciting, but also the opposition he has faced and in some cases the conditions regarding those bouts. He won his first world title as a teenager when he stopped the excellent Chatchai Sasakul in Thailand, he made his US debut on short notice against a very highly regard world champion in the form of Lehlo Ledwaba and then he went on to fight a who's who of boxing with fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley all being fought as Pacquiao excited the boxing world like so few fighters do.
Going in to this bout there a lot of questions for both men. For Pacquiao a big questions regards his hunger, he's not a young whippersnapper any more, instead he's a veteran who has fingers in all sorts of pies and may well be tired of his career as a boxer. Another questions regarding Pacquiao is time, just how much time does his body have left fighting at the top level, he's not been a defensive fighting avoiding through his career, instead he's been involved in battles and of course battles take their toll on the body. A third question regarding Pacquiao is what does he do against a taller, rangier boxer like Algieri? Some fight fans have pointed to his impressively one-sided victory over Antonio Margarito as to how he handles tall fighters however Magarito is a fighter who cames forward and gave away his physical advantages, Algieri on the other hand is a back foot fighter who uses his physical dimensions to keep fights at a distance and fights off the jab, two very different styles.
As for Algieri their is a huge question about how he handles the explosiveness of Pacquiao who is a very different kettle of fish to Provodnikov despite both men being aggressively minded come forward fighters, afterall Pacquiao is more rounded and more active. That brings us to another point, how does Algieri cope with the intense activity of Pacquiao who always seems to be moving or throwing, or doing both at once, again a stark contrast to Provodnikov who only seemed capable of moving or throwing, not both at once. A major concern about the American is what happens when Pacquiao is inside Algieri's reach? Does Algieri have the short shots to force Pacquiao to think twice or will he just need to tie up and hope that a referee can split them? One final big question for Algieri is how will he cope in Macau with most of the crowd being very pro-Filipino and the setting being somewhat alien to him? It's true Algieri has done very well in the press conference and looked confident through out though in the ring things could be so much different.
We suspect if Pacquiao is hungry and focused he does what Provodnikov did in the first round and makes the bout look like a mismatch. If Pacquiao however is fighting at less than 90% of his best then this bout becomes very difficult for the Filipino who could end up eating a lot of jabs from Algieri on the outside which could well unsettle Pacquiao's rhythm and timing, something that is incredibly important to the Filipino fighter. Unfortunately Algieri, who we really do like as a person, we suspect his lack of power will be his downfall even if Pacquiao isn't quite on song and eventually the Pacman will get to him and stop him likely from accumulation rather than a single shot. If Pacquiao's 100% that stoppage comes inside 6 rounds, if he's not 100% then it comes in the second half of the fight.
(Image courtesy of http://www.boxnews.com.ua)
In boxing we only have a handful of really huge global names. One of those is Filipino icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (55-5-2, 28).
The 35 year old Filipino legend returns to an American ring this weekend for his first US fight since being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2012. Amazingly Pacquiao is without a win in the US since he managed to defeat Marquez, in their third meeting, all the way back in November 2011.
Pacquiao's return to America seems him trying to avenge his most controversial defeat, a much debated decision loss to unbeaten American Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley (31-0-0-1, 12). The bout, for the WBO Welterweight title, is now almost 2 years in the making and is one of this years most eagerly anticipated contest so far.
When the men first met neither was at their best. Pacquiao, although a winner of the cards of ourselves and many independent observers, wasn't his usual self. His fire looked to be on the wane, the destructive freak of nature appeared to have been tamed by something or another and the power, speed, combinations and foot work weren't what we've come to expect of Pacquiao. He still seemed to win but it wasn't the Pacquiao of old and this was plainly obvious in the later rounds when he took his foot off the gas.
At his best Pacquiao is a perpetual punching machine throwing non-stop combinations, darting in and out, circling and trying to set up his monstrous straight left hand. He's always taken a few to land a few but on the whole his package of power, speed, toughness, and explosiveness has seen him inflict more hurt than opponents tend to inflict on him
As for Bradley seemed to be tamed. His skills were their but his footwork was lacking, due to genuine issues with his legs and feet, his indomitable will to win seemed to dissipate and whilst he showed off good body movement he looked like a pale imitation of himself. It was of course Bradley who got the decision but few felt he actually deserved and even fewer felt he had been fighting the real Pacquiao.
Bradley as his best is a sharp punching machine who lacks power but makes up for it in fantastic conditioning, a refusal to lose, a genuine intensity and the ability to do almost anything. He may not be a banger but he can box well off the front foot or back foot as well as brawl when he needs to.
Since their first meeting back in June 2012 both men have fought twice. For Pacquiao those bouts have seen him going 1-1 with the aforementioned loss to Marquez and a dominant victory over Brandon Rios, who was little more than a human punch bag. Bradley however has gone a perfect 2-0 with victories over Ruslan Provodnikov, in what was a pure war, and Juan Manuel Marquez in what was a somewhat tame and forgettable encounter.
For this many this bout is the most vital bout in the career of both men. For Bradley it's a chance to prove he is better than Pacquiao and that the decision 2 years ago, rightly or wrongly, did go to the better fighter. For Pacquiao this is a chance to avenge a man who took his Welterweight title and a man who inflicted his first loss in more than 7 years. A loss for Pacquiao could well be the end of his top level boxing career whilst a victory would see fans clamouring, once again, for Pacquiao vs Mayweather a bout that is still one of the most wanted fights amongst those in the boxing fraternity. For Bradley a victory puts him as a clear top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, he'll be the only man with 2 wins over Pacquiao and he'll be the clear man to beat at 147, aside from Mayweather.
So who are we going for?
We think both men will be determined to make a statement. For Bradley this could drag him in to the wrong type of fight. If Bradley can box with Pacquiao the American could well keep his unbeaten record but if he gets dragged into the mental battle of trying to win a war he's not going to come out on top, he simply doesn't have the power or variation in his work to over-come the more dynamic Pacquiao.
For Pacquiao to win he needs to throw away the "nice guy" mentality that has seemingly become too much a part of his fights in recent years. We need the angry, violent and destructive Pacquiao, the one that battered Miguel Cotto, bludgeoned Erik Morales, smashed Marco Antonio Barrera, dismantled Ricky Hatton and, going back a bit further, iced Chatchai Sasakul.
If Bradley, as he did against Marquez, boxes intelligently on the back foot he should be to give Pacquiao a lot of problems. The American would however need to find an extra gear or two to make Pacquiao look as bad as he made Marquez looked, with Marquez looking his age in that bout. If Bradley fights as he did against Provodnikov he hasn't a chance here and will be stopped.
We're thinking Pacquiao will get Bradley to fight his fight. The men will engage more than in their first fight, Pacquiao will look to make a point of showing his fire and anger and in the final rounds, when both are starting to feel the tempo of the bout, the spitefulness of Pacquiao will return.
Although we know we'll be in the minority we're going to be going with Pacquiao by late stoppage. The words of Bradley, who has commented on Pacquiao lacing the spitefulness he once had, will come back to bite him in the behind and we'll see snarl back in Pacquiao's boxing something that has been missed by many, including ourselves, and we'll see Pacquiao becoming a world champion once again.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.