The Manny-Mayweather Debate

Up until his retirement last year, Floyd Mayweather Jr’s anointment as the pound-for-pound king of boxing was a no-brainer. It took little time for Manny Pacquiao to emerge as boxing’s new pound-for-pound king in Floyd’s absence. Pacquiao is 4-0 since Mayweather Jr last fought. Two of those wins came against men Floyd had previously beaten, only Manny scored his defeats in quicker and more impressive fashion. These two are destined to meet, hopefully as soon as the end of 2009, but my question for right now is: Who belongs atop the lb-for-lb list?

In most sporting situations, a starting player is rightfully due his position back upon returning from injury or rest. There are famous examples of replacements never relinquishing their new role such as Lou Gehrig and Tom Brady, but when an athlete has done nothing to lose his spot more often than not he will get it back. So where does this leave Floyd Mayweather Jr in his stance as the lb-for-lb king of boxing?

Floyd Mayweather Jr will be up for inclusion in our lb-for-lb rankings at Inside Fights in June. My first place vote will go to Manny Pacquiao. Second will be Floyd Mayweather Jr. Third will be Juan Manuel Marquez. These were easy decisions for me. I can understand these top 3 boxers being interchanged in other voter’s polls, but let me explain my case for all three fighters.

Manny Pacquiao has set the boxing world on fire since Floyd Mayweather Jr’s retirement. He has been putting on extraordinary performances throughout his career, and he’s long been considered one of the top fighters, but his destruction of Oscar De La Hoya caused a distinct explosion upon the boxing scene. Manny didn’t seem to let the pressure of being “The Man” get to him as he authoritatively disposed of Ricky Hatton in just two rounds only ten days ago. Manny caused Oscar De La Hoya to not only quit on his stool, but to retire from boxing all together. Floyd Mayweather Jr earned a split decision over the Golden Boy. Mayweather Jr embarrassed Ricky Hatton over 10 rounds, leading to a TKO victory. Pacquiao needed only two rounds. These are the last two opponents from each man. It is a clear advantage for Manny Pacquiao.

Every time Manny Pacquiao is mentioned as the pound-for-pound king, it is always noted that Juan Manuel Marquez is not far behind. After all, the two fought to a draw in 2004. They fought again in 2008 and Manny Pacquiao won a split decision by one single point. It has been a hotly contested rivalry with varying opinions on who should have been declared the winner in each of their fights. If the gap between Manny and Juan Manual Marquez is so small, then how does Floyd Mayweather Jr fit into the #2 spot? For all of his accomplishments, Juan Manuel Marquez did officially lose to Pacquiao. He also lost to Chris John in 2006. That was a fight he never should have taken, but he did and again, it was an official loss. Floyd Mayweather Jr is a perfect 39-0 and is a matchup nightmare for almost any fighter. His speed and counter-punching ability are second to none. Unless Juan Manuel Marquez defeats Floyd Mayweather in July, there is no reason to rank the Mexican fighter above Pretty Boy Floyd.

The absolutely wonderful news is that all this speculation will lead to a decisive answer in the ring. Juan Manuel Marquez will test his mettle against Floyd Mayweather Jr on July 18. The winner will be next in line to face Manny Pacquiao. Hopefully Floyd Mayweather Jr holds true to his desire to want to fight the best. Who needs these silly pound-for-pound lists when we can finally see it settled in the ring?

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