Five years in the making, and after all this time, all the talk, we're now just over 24 hours away from fight time. Mayweather vs Pacquiao. It's really happening, and the eyes of the sports world will be locked onto these two superstars on Saturday night.
So who's going to win? The BLH Staff Picks are back for this momentous occasion.
Of everyone in the sport today, I think Manny Pacquiao has the best chance of beating Floyd Mayweather. We talk up the hand speed of Amir Khan sometimes, and Khan himself facilitates that, and it's a good argument. But you need more than one great attribute. Brawlers, bruisers, plodders, and wrestlers haven't been able to use the Pressure!Pressure!Pressure!RoughHimUp! technique to actually get a win, even if guys like Jose Luis Castillo, Miguel Cotto, and Marcos Maidana have had some success against Floyd (and Castillo was so long ago that it's barely relevant at all anymore). The idea that Mayweather is troubled by southpaws is, in my view, oversold. He's beaten every one that he's fought clearly. What Pacquiao has in his favor is comparable speed that could trouble Mayweather, good power and accuracy that could trouble Mayweather, great footwork and angles that could trouble Mayweather -- in short, he has a skill set that should challenge Floyd. And I do think he'll challenge him. I just don't think he'll win. That's not to say he can't -- my own feeling is, like the purse split, it's about 60-40. I just don't think he will. Pacquiao is a great fighter. Mayweather is greater. Mayweather UD-12
Manny Pacquiao will pose a huge problem to Floyd Mayweather and will present a more significant threat to his unbeaten record than anyone ever has. Pacquiao's angles and hand speed are like nothing Mayweather's ever seen before. It would be remiss of me to say that anyone has a better chance of beating the American, realistic weight limits in mind. That doesn't mean that he will. I've been hugely impressed with what appears to be a steely focus from a toned-down Mayweather throughout the entire build-up: no outrageous goading of his opponent, no press conference antics, but a simple determination to get this job done. Mayweather is a lifelong winner, and has given the air of a man who knows not only how stern this test could be, but how his entire career will be defined by this fight. Look for Mayweather to spend a few rounds figuring out his man, while Pacquiao starts fast, starts to land the flashier shots. Mayweather will find his range. He always does. The difference here is that, once he does, he'll take the fight to Pacquiao. Floyd Mayweather wins this fight because he's the finest boxer of this generation, and I think he might just do so more emphatically than some expect. Mayweather TKO-7
Keith "Champ" Creed
There's no doubt in my mind that the first three rounds of this bout will be examined and dissected for years to come. Manny Pacquiao's staccato stagger-step high energy attacks will create an early sense of urgency for Mayweather that he hasn't dealt with since his fights against Castillo, Judah and Mosley. However, adjustments will be made and Floyd will process the timing, gauge the space with the jab to the body and will start landing shots over the top at an accelerated rate. This will leave Pacquiao ripe for an unexpected onslaught leading to a TKO in round 10. Mayweather TKO-10
Pacquiao should easily eclipse Mayweather in terms of volume and aggression, but I expect Pacquiao's relentless aggression to play into the sharp counter-punching ability of Mayweather - once he gets his timing down. The thing about Pacquiao, unlike a lot of other fighters, is that when he gets hit hard and cleanly it only serves to make him more aggressive, and not less. I think that will ultimately put him in position to take most of the cleanly-landed shots throughout the fight, but I expect at least one judge to favor Manny's aggressive style. Mayweather SD-12
Mayweather is an all-time great fighter who's been able to adjust to every opponent, sometimes with difficulty, most of the time with ease, and he has rightfully assumed the role of favorite. It's a tough fight to pick for me because I know who I want to win: Pacquiao. So I'll go ahead and envision a scenario where that happens. Pacquiao's hand speed and aggressiveness will be effective, and more judge-friendly, than Mayweather's defense-first, one punch at a time. Mayweather is an incredibly sharp and accurate puncher, but Pacquiao's foot speed should allow him to be more elusive than the typical Mayweather victim. Pacquiao's fight against Bradley showed he still has enough in the tank to beat a top opponent on a given night. Bradley is no Mayweather, but then again Maidana, who gave Mayweather a tough night two fights ago, is no Pacquiao. So in a partial leap of faith, and somewhat based on their respective showings against Bradley and Maidana, I'm rolling with Pacquiao by decision. With all the discussion of Mayweather's despicable personal history, and the token hot take response "well, Pacquiao ain't no saint either", I suppose it's most fitting to say, may the best fighter, rather than best man, win. Pacquiao by decision
It's the biggest fight in the sport, now and for the past five years. It will almost surely be the richest fight ever, with the largest purses, most PPV buys, and myriad other accolades. THE FIGHT. Too bad it will likely be a stinker. What other kind of fight has Floyd Mayweather been in recently? And, to be fair, Pacquiao's latest outings haven't been exactly scintillating (at least, his victories). Though each man's physical trajectory is roughly parallel—they've both slowed a step—they've matured beyond their most exciting years. But we were asked to pick with our hearts, so I will. Being a 2-to-1 underdog must stick in Manny's craw. That alone will motivate him to perhaps one more career-defining fight. Floyd's defense lies nearly as much on discouraging his opponents during the press tour as it does in his excellent shoulder roll. But Manny don't care. His superior work rate, willingness to miss with three punches to land one, and awkward, two-handed attack will overcome Floyd's ability to absorb and negate. Manny will do his best to drag Floyd into a firefight, but he'll merely succeed at outworking him en route to a close decision. Pacquiao by decision
He's dealt with doubters and detractors for decades, but Saturday night is Floyd Mayweather's chance to silence them all. And, as much as it pains me to say this - I want Pacquiao to win more than anyone - I think he'll do just that. Expect Pacquiao to take the early rounds, maybe even touch Floyd hard with that left hand and give him something to think about. But as the rounds wear on, Mayweather's sharp, accurate counterpunching and effective control of range will frustrate Pacquiao to the point where, as in the Marquez fight, he reaches a little too far. Pacquiao will open up in the ninth or tenth, and try to batter and break Mayweather's shell with a barrage of punches ... and that's when he'll get caught. Mayweather will punish him with the southpaw-killing lead right hand, and by the end of the fight, he'll be walking the smaller man down and chasing the KO that will solidify his status as the best of the generation. And I think he'll get it. Mayweather TKO-11
Manny Pacquiao poses a complicated challenge to Floyd Mayweather. I expect his in-and-out-of-the-pocket footwork and combination punching to give Floyd some serious trouble. Moreover, Pacquiao's intensity and work-rate, taken against Mayweather's more conservative style, might inspire judges to award close rounds to the Filipino fighter. However, I believe the decisive factor will be Floyd's ability to adjust as the fight progresses, and I expect him to pull ahead in the last third of the fight, leading to a controversial split-decision victory and a potential rematch in the fall. Mayweather SD-12
Breaking down the fight for the past week with renewed vigor has helped me to come round to the fact that this is a tremendously interesting clash of styles. When first announced I scoffed and compared it to the much-maligned third bout between Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran--much too late, and a waste of time--and felt that Pacquiao had slipped further from his best form than Floyd had and that it was now a pretty redundant match up. But now I'm excited. The cynical fight fan has been caught up in the hype, and I envision a close, cagey bout with Mayweather doing the cleaner work while circumnavigating Pacquiao enough to stunt his work rate. I believe the fight will have moments of inspired madness from Pacquiao but that Floyd will be able to stick to the game plan he tends to favour against southpaws and land the sharp right hand counter that he is known for and--more importantly--that Manny is known for taking. Mayweather UD-12
I believe Mayweather's on a completely different level to Pacquiao - one's a very good fighter, the other is a great fighter. Pacquiao has the work-rate and aggression to cause Mayweather a few problems but it won't take long for Mayweather to find the answers. The obvious pick is for Mayweather to outpoint Pacquiao but my gut feeling is that Mayweather will produce a special performance in a fight of this magnitude and will pick Pacquiao apart before forcing a late stoppage. Mayweather KO-9
If you've watched the preview video Kyle McLachlan and I produced, or listened to my analysis on the latest episode of Heavy Hands, you already know my prediction here. So now I'll try to think of another angle from which to make it. Speed has long been the buzzword for both Mayweather and Pacquiao. Commentators, opponents, and even the fighters themselves are constantly talking about how fast they are--and lately, how much slower they might have become. Though I don't believe speed alone is responsible for the great careers of these fighters--rhythm and timing have played just as significant a role--I do think speed will play a key role in this fight. Manny Pacquiao has been fighting fast fighters pretty regularly in these twilight years of his great career. Timothy Bradley proved slippier than expected, and troubled Pacquiao on route to a pair of decision losses (or what should have been a pair of losses, anyway). No, Pacquiao didn't hit Bradley with ease, but he certainly wasn't incapable of landing either. Chris Algieri was pretty damn quick, too, and yet Pacquiao managed to track him down. Now it's true that neither Bradley nor Algieri are Floyd Mayweather, but it's a distinct possibility that Floyd Mayweather isn't quite Floyd Mayweather anymore either. I cannot get the image of slow, plodding Marcos Maidana plugging Mayweather in the chin with a counter right hand--and knocking something, a tooth or veneer from his mouth--out of my mind. Speed ain't everything, but it is a lot, and I think Manny Pacquiao still has more of it than Floyd. Pacquiao UD-12
As the opening bell gets tantalisingly closer, I'm fighting the urge to retreat to the fence. Although both have declined and are fighting above their ideal weight, there are compelling arguments to support each corner. However, I believe the most significant factor will be Mayweather's legs, and his inability to move fluidly for 12 rounds. He hasn't faced anyone as fast as Pacquiao in a long time, and I believe the speed will shock him, at least initially. If anyone caught the HBO Legends show from the past week, I agree almost entirely with George Foreman's assessment. Manny starts fast, taking the early rounds, before Floyd builds a head of steam and ultimately finishes the stronger. His gameplan will be to go to the body and slow Manny down, but I don't see it being enough. Pacquiao via a razor thin decision in an engrossing fight. Pacquiao by decision