Note: I legitimately mean this as an honest, friendly debate. This isn't about who's scared to fight who, who's ducking who, drug testing, or the assorted trash talk. This is just about what the two biggest and best fighters in boxing today have done so far, and who you think has had the better overall career.
In a perfect world, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr would be fighting one another soon in the biggest money fight in the history of boxing. Hell, in a perfect world, they'd have already fought and probably had a big money rematch, to boot.
But this is not a perfect world. We're still in the world where the two are endlessly compared without going head-to-head. So what can we do? Why, compare them again, of course.
Let's take a look at what are -- in my own humble opinion -- the five best wins for each fighter, plus other achievements, and at the end, why, we'll vote on who has the better record. Not who would win a fight, just who has the better record. (Like all Pacquiao polls, this will stay legit for, oh, a few hours, probably.)
5. Oscar de la Hoya (2008-12-06)
One thing I should say is that I mostly put this fight here due to its impact on the boxing landscape. Manny Pacquiao, the former flyweight, sent boxing's "Golden Boy" into retirement with eight decisive rounds of one-way action so ugly that Oscar pulled himself out of both the fight and the profession. Clearly, de la Hoya was a weight-drained, shot, part-time fighter who had issues pulling the trigger. I don't really think that's debatable. But even still, Manny beat the living hell out of him, and even let him off the hook at various points. There were definitely times when Pacquiao eased off the gas, letting a reeling and clueless Oscar off the ropes, out of the corner, or just into the fight for a few seconds. Oscar did almost nothing with Manny. Going back and re-watching it reveals an astonishing one-man show, a fight that told the man who carried boxing on his back for years that if you're not in it 100%, you're really not in it.
4. Miguel Cotto (2009-11-14)
Cotto had some issues going in, but early on, he was clearly there to win and in the fight. Through four rounds, I had the fight pretty much even. And then Manny Pacquiao took over with his ferocious whirlwind offense. Through the fight, Cotto tried to find his way back into it, but just couldn't figure anything out. By the late rounds, Cotto was on his bike and out of ideas, forcing referee Kenny Bayless to mercy stop the bout in the 12th round.
3. Ricky Hatton (2009-05-02)
Ricky Hatton had never been beaten at 140 pounds. It was a weight class where he ruled with an iron fist after dethroning Kostya Tszyu, a Hall of Famer that never fought again after losing to Hatton. Some feel Ricky Hatton was overrated, but I personally feel as though I always rated Hatton just about right. Anyway, you know the story and there's not much to say: Manny blew him up.
2. Marco Antonio Barrera (2003-11-15)
Still mostly a one-handed fighter, Pacquiao took on the highly-rated Marco Antonio Barrera in November 2003 and produced a shockingly dominant win, the first major sign that we might have something special with the Filipino. Barrera was riding high off of wins over Naseem Hamed and his hated rival Erik Morales, plus Johnny Tapia and Kevin Kelley. But Pacquiao just totally overpowered him.
1. Juan Manuel Marquez (2008-03-15)
This is No. 1 for me even though I scored it very close for Marquez, because I don't see it as having been a robbery, and in my mind, this version of Marquez was the best fighter that Pacquiao has ever fought. Before Pacquiao blew up into megastar status on U.S. pay-per-view, diehard fans were salivating to finally get this rematch, and it lived up to the hype and expectations. It was just a great fight, and Pacquiao nipped it via split decision.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
5. Shane Mosley (2010-05-01)
Whatever happened to Mosley after, he was the top welterweight not named Manny Pacquiao when Mayweather fought him, and the last time we had seen him, he was wiping the floor with Antonio Margarito. And Mosley started this fine, putting a second round scare into Mayweather that had people jumping out of their seats. But after that, Floyd showed his class and completely dominated Mosley, mentally and even physically. It was Mayweather bringing the fight after a while, with Mosley overwhelmed and overmatched.
4. Ricky Hatton (2007-12-08)
Hatton was undefeated and the legit junior welterweight champion. Mayweather was undefeated and the legit welterweight champion. Like the Mosley fight, but with less of a legit "oh s**t!" moment for Hatton, Mayweather found his rhythm against Ricky, made his adjustments, and took him to school. It all culminated in a 10th round stoppage of the game but outclassed Englishman.
3. Jose Luis Castillo (2002-12-07)
I don't think this win gets enough credit. Castillo had pushed Mayweather to the brink and in the eyes of many, deserved the win in April 2002. So Floyd fought him again and won with no controversy. It was competitive again, as a prime Castillo just seemed to have Mayweather's number more than anyone ever has. That Castillo put a blueprint in place for battling Floyd, but Mayweather continued to get better and smarter, and nobody else has been able to really mimic what JLC did to him. For me, it's admirable that the only time there was any legitimate controversy over a Mayweather win, he went back and fought the same guy immediately, and beat him.
2. Oscar de la Hoya (2007-05-05)
Mayweather was clearly not comfortable with the weight for this one, and was fighting past his limit at 154 pounds. He didn't even try to push it, weighing in at 150 and taking the weight disadvantage for what it was. Oscar had success in the first half of the fight, but after that Floyd was able to largely neutralize him and add another title belt. He gave it up right away (same as Manny did with his more bogus 154-pound belt), but it was a special win and ushered in a few things: The new era of superfights and how they're promoted with things like "24/7," and a new big money star in boxing, as Mayweather really made his new name with this fight. He was no longer just a great pure boxer, he was a star.
1. Diego Corrales (2001-01-20)
Many at the time felt Corrales had the height and physical advantages to beat Floyd. Not so much. Chico was a great fighter in the most literal sense of the word "fighter," but Mayweather ran him over on skill, proving a vast superiority to a fellow undefeated young star. This was Floyd's most dominant performance and, in my opinion, his greatest victory to date. Mayweather just plain beat the hell out of Corrales en route to a 10th round stoppage following a fifth knockdown.
Basically, I'm assuming you're all familiar enough with the full records of both fighters, who each have more quality wins than just these five apiece on their sheets. They're both multiple division titleholders and champions, and they've taken down all stripes of fighter over the years. They've both retired good fighters and won against the odds. They've both made pretty remarkable trips up in weight over the years, given how dominant they've become while settling in at 147 pounds.
These are both great fighters. The question is simple: Who has had the more impressive career, purely based on the fighters they've beaten?