Okay. I was wrong. Last week, I wrote all about how I thought Pacquiao could beat Mayweather, and for as many times as I remind readers that my predictions are right, it’s only fair that I acknowledge when I’m wrong — very wrong.
According to the scorecards, I almost couldn’t have been more wrong. Mayweather won on a unanimous decision, of course, and the unanimity was also decisive. One judge said Mayweather won 10 of the 12 rounds, while the other two thought Mayweather won eight. In football terms, that’s like losing by eight touchdowns. In basketball, that’s like losing by 35, and in rowing, it’s like not even moving your boat before the other team crosses the finish line. Basically, end of discussion, Mayweather is the greatest fighter of the era, right?
I’d say no, and in fact, I’d argue that Pacquiao could win a rematch against Mayweather. It seems that talk of a rematch is no longer wishful thinking either, as we learned on Tuesday, Mayweather has stated that he’s open to a rematch with Pacquiao.
Whether this actually happens or not, it’s not too early to speculate on what might happen should MayPac II happen.
Here’s why I think Pacquiao could fare better a second time around: The first obvious reason is that we’ve learned that Pacquiao fought this past Saturday with a torn right rotator cuff. Let me repeat — a torn right rotator cuff. A rotator cuff that will take nine to 12 months to heal after the surgery that Pacquiao will have.
Pacquiao fought with one arm, and he still managed to win several rounds against Mayweather. In fact, I thought he actually won five of the 12 rounds, and he had some rounds where he made Mayweather look quite average. Consider Round 4, where Pacquiao took the fight to Mayweather with a beautiful series of combinations that clearly rattled the undefeated boxer. I think in a rematch, Pacquiao can and should work to take the fight out of the center of the ring and into the ropes, where he had much more success against Mayweather.
Usually, Mayweather excels when the fight takes place on the ropes, as some might have noticed this past Saturday night. Mayweather often “hugs” his opponents to tie up their momentum when the fight is taken to the ropes, but Pacquiao did an excellent job at the beginning of the fight of making his punches count before this happened. I think this is a strategy that could be expanded upon in a rematch, one that Freddie Roach and Pacquiao could perfect.
Secondly, I look for Pacquiao to be less passive in a potential rematch. What I couldn’t understand when watching the fight was why he seemed to go away from the aggressive fighting he displayed early on. In the first few rounds, Pacquiao came out swinging, and while he wasn’t landing many punches, he was at least throwing them, which was his only chance to beat Mayweather. It’s been long established that Mayweather has perfected the art of counterpunching.
As I wrote in my column that predicted a Pacquiao win, I thought Pacquiao needed to balance his aggression and counterpunching, which he definitely did not do for the majority of the fight. For instance, Pacquiao threw fewer punches than Mayweather, which absolutely should not happen given Mayweather’s defensive fighting style. As Pacquiao started to counterpunch with Mayweather, Mayweather began to take control of the fight.
Clearly, it’s difficult to beat Mayweather fighting this way, and my only explanation is that Pacquiao’s legs tired out from the intensity he had in the first few rounds. In sports, preparation can only take you so far, and I think Pacquiao found out inside the ring the physicality that it takes to beat Mayweather.
Thirdly, there’s absolutely no way that Pacquiao misses on as many punches as he did on Saturday night in a future fight against Mayweather. Pacquiao’s biggest problem during the fight was his lack of consistency in landing punches. For the entire fight, Pacquiao only landed 19 percent of total punches and only 9 percent of jabs. Clearly, the torn right rotator cuff didn’t help these percentages — particularly the jab percentage.
However, many of the punches that Pacquiao threw were simply unwise, as he clearly wasn’t in position to land them. I think it starts with Pacquiao having better footwork, which should come as a result of the two prior points I made about better positioning in the ring and better fitness coming into the fight.
Mayweather clearly won the fight this past Saturday night — there’s no disputing that. Mayweather fights unconventionally, and although he often runs from his opponents, he still manages to land enough punches to score points on the scorecard. Given this, Pacquiao can only benefit from having faced him once if there is a rematch. Even more positive is that Pacquiao’s confidence and belief were clear in his interview after the fight, and I think he has the hunger to get back in the ring and beat Mayweather.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao, it’s up to Mayweather whether there is a rematch, and the split will probably be even more swayed in Mayweather’s favor than the 60-40 split from this past fight. If Pacquiao agrees to take less money and fight Mayweather again in a year, and if Mayweather also agrees — in what might be both fighters’ last fights — I think Pacquiao could end his career with a victory and hand Mayweather his first loss.
To place your bet against Shawn now, contact him at sstuteja ‘at’ stanford.edu.