Before I write this I want it to be clear that I am not a Mayweather hater, in fact you could count me as a fan. I admire his technical skills and his brilliant style, however I think his resume is a bit patchy for a man who sees himself as the greatest boxer of all time. Secondly I am no Pacquiao fanboy. I think he is great to watch,excellent at boxing and superb for the sport but I in no way see him as infallible and proof of that can be seen in the fact that I would pick Mayweather to beat him if they fight. Thridly this is not about Mayweather being a coward, or blood tests, so I would appreciate it if no one mentionss either, especially the latter.
What I am trying to do here is create an objective comparison between the two fighters who currently contest one another for the place of number one p4p in the sport. I am basing this comparison on their resumes and will be ultimately trying to assertain who will be remembered better by history.
To start I am going to compare the fighters they have both faced. Oscar De La Hoya is a bit of a no brainer here. Weight drained and faded when he faced Pacquiao, that win really counts for very little. However it should be remembered that the vast majority of fans and boxing writers picked De La Hoya to win, even to win widely. Fighting Oscar may have been easy for Manny but it was expected to be a stern challenge. Mayweather faced De La Hoya at 154 where Oscar was far more comfortable and Floyd clearly wasn't at his absolute best. Even though Pacquiao's win over De La Hoya was far more dominant than Mayweather's, Mayweather's still counts for more.
However it is a different story with Ricky Hatton. To say that Floyd wasn't at his best at 154 is nothing compared to how Hatton looked at 147. He had only had one fight there and in it he very nearly got beaten by Luis Collazo. Compared to his dominance at 140 Hatton really didn't look that good as a welterweight, mainly because he had lost his overpowering strength. Mayweather's victory over Hatton was a very good display of a boxing from mayweather combined with a terrible style matchup and discomfort at the weight for Hatton. On the other hand Pacquiao took on Hatton at the weight class where he ruled. He had just beat up Paulie Malignaggi and was the Ring junior welterwegiht champ. Manny knocked him out in two which was phenomenal and while it is true that the style matchup here sucked for Hatton too it seems clear to me who fought the better Ricky, and who beat him more convincingly.
In terms of comon opponents I like to ignore Marquez for various reasons which I will touch on later. Now I would like to compare their most recent opponents seeing as they were both welterweight fights and are very relevant to my point. Pacquiao took on a top 5 welterweight, top 2 or 3 even, and beat him in dramatic fashion. Crushing knockdowns. superb handspeed and excellent resilience were all on display. Pacquiao dominated a very good fighter in Miguel Cotto and astounded many people in the boxing community, including me. Mayweather did something far less impressive in taking on Marquez, a guy who looked uncomfortable at lightweight. Frankly Marquez should be at 130 to be at his best and was 15 pounds out of his comfort zone and had never fought at junior welterweight let alone welterweight. I'm honestly not sure I would pick Marquez against any top ten welterweight and if he fought Pacquiao at that weight it would be over in two.
As far as I'm concerned Pacquiao outclassed Mayweather in terms of opposition in their most recent fight and Marquez simply had no business being at that wegiht. The fight Floyd had with his essentially counts for nothing.
Now lets look at some opponents from a little further back. David Diaz or Baldomir? Who was worse? Probably Diaz actually but the thing here is that Pacquiao was just stopping off in the lightweight division on his way to junior welter for a big fight with ricky. Mayweather actually expects us to buy Baldomir as a serious opponent. Sorry Floyd but 5 loss Carlos doesn't cut it at this level.
How about Judah? Well to be fair Judah probably fought his best fight against Floyd and he did trouble him early on. However he also only won four rounds in that fight, maybe even three. He had also just lost to carlos Baldomir, was chinny and had never been able to face adversity particularly well. Compare him to Barrera or the Marquez that Manny fought at super featherweight and he doesn't look good. Barrera was slightly faded but very, very far from shot and Marquez was a brilliant counterpuncher at that weight and proved to be a bad style matchup for Pacquiao. Frankly if you need it explained to you why those two fighters are better than the likes of Judah or Corley then you need your head examined.
Mayweather beat Arturo Gatti in a very convincing fashion but for all of Gatti's resilience and legendary warrior mentality he was still a B class opponent and there were much tougher challenges which Floyd could have taken. Compare him to Erik Morales who Manny beat the second time. I don't really count the third match as Morales was past it then but in the 2nd fight Erik was overmatched not because he was shot but because Pacquiao was really good.
Mayweather has good wins over Corrales and Castillo but I would like to point out the often overlooked fact that Corrales was very weight drained for that fight. I think Mayweather would have beaten him anyway but it is worth noting.
To conlude I don't think Mayweather has ever beaten anyone that great. Lots of good opponents but no great ones. Ali is remembered for Frazier and Foreman, Hagler is remembered for Hearns, Pacquiao will be remembered for Barrera, Morales and Cotto, who is Mayweather going to be remembered for? His resume isn't that good despite his tremendous skills and if he beats Pacquiao none of that will matter. I hope he does improve legacy because it's clear that he is capable of it. However I am increasingly doubtful that he will.