By Rudy Mondragon
When was the last time you heard someone say, “styles make fights?” It is an overly used concept in boxing debates. Promoters use it to justify the match ups they create. Fans use it in casual debates when they feel cornered and their only way out is saying, “well come on now, styles make fights!” Mark Wahlberg recently used it in irresponsible fashion. In the recent HBO “At Last” special (see video below), Wahlberg was interviewed and he shared his thoughts on the fight:
“Styles make fights, if you think about the tough match ups that Floyd’s had over the years, the same guys that Manny’s faced, Manny’s handled them decisively, so I think Manny’s my guy…”
Come on now Mark, you know better than that! The concept of styles make fights means that one boxer’s style in relation to her/his opponent creates a unique context and outcome when the final bell rings or the referee counts you out. The key to styles make fights is that the styles (boxer, brawler, swarmer, technician, boxer puncher, etc) of the two boxers in the ring on any given night create a unique CONTEXT. In the case of Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao, results will vary regardless of the common opponents these two have. Furthermore, because these two have different styles, the road to their individual success has been paved differently. In other words, just because Manny has “handled them decisively” does not mean he will handle Floyd and vice-versa.
What Mark Wahlberg and many other boxing fans mistake is that simply looking at the common opponents that Floyd and Manny share serves as a formula to predict an easy win for Manny (or Floyd for some). The reason I am writing this article is because I have been in this very debate multiple times in the last few months. If we have debated, you know who you are, and I hope it was enjoyable for you as it was for me.
I write this piece to show you my break down of the context of each of the common opponents Floyd and Manny share. Context is important, both leading up to the fight and after. The point on breaking down each common opponent is to show you that although Manny “handled them decisively,” there are other factors that need to be considered. The purpose of this piece is to show you the different factors that inform the shape and condition of the opponents that Floyd and Manny share. Again, CONTEXT, before and after their fights matter. Here we go.
Oscar De La Hoya
Floyd faced an ODLH who was comfortable at the 154lbs limit. ODLH was coming off a knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins in September 2004 and then came back in May 2006 to TKO Ricardo Mayorga. ODLH was not in his prime, but he was at his comfortable weight at that point of his career and was coming off a decent win.
Manny faced an ODLH who was drained at 145lbs. ODLH’s last fight at 147lbs was against Arturo Gatti in 2001! ODLH fought Manny in 2008. Oscar’s pride and stupidity in thinking he could perform at that weight class (let alone make the weight) gave Manny a huge advantage. Even Roach said it, Oscar lost that fight trying to make weight and it was clear since he could see visible IV marks on Oscar’s arm. Not to mention ODLH was coming off a defeat to Floyd Mayweather in May 2007 and a decent win against an outclassed Steve Forbes in May 2008.
Although Manny destroyed ODLH in 8 rounds and Floyd won a Split Decision, it is in fact Mayweather who fought a better ODLH who did not kill himself trying to make weight.
Floyd faced a Ricky Hatton who was undefeated and coming off wins against Kostya Tszyu, Luis Collazo, Jose Luis Castillo. Collazo was a good young boxer and Tszyu and Castillo were well known veterans. These wins provided Hatton with a good deal of confidence and promotional backing. Entering the ring with this type of momentum, I would argue Ricky honestly believed he could dethrone Floyd.
Manny faced Hatton after Floyd had earned a TKO victory against him. Although Hatton recorded victories over Juan Lazcano and Paul Malignaggi, he did not prove to be a resilient boxer as he never really recovered from his defeat to Floyd. Hatton himself said he was deep in depression after his fight with Floyd and Manny. Hatton was damaged goods and was at the end of his career when he faced Manny.
Although Manny scored a devastating second round KO, it is again Floyd Mayweather who fought a more confident and game Hatton.
Juan Manuel Marquez
This was Floyd’s comeback fight as he took close to two years off after he defeated Hatton. Marquez should not have taken this fight or at the very least a tune up to get comfortable at the welterweight division. Marquez weighed in the day before fight night at 142lbs. On fight night, he looked slow and sluggish, most likely from the new weight. Floyd on the other hand came in at 146lbs, two pounds over the agreed weight limit of 144lbs. This gave Floyd an unfair advantage over Marquez, who was out of his element for this one.
Manny, in all four of their fights, has faced a Marquez that has come in superb shape. Their styles made for four exciting and competitive fights. Marquez was a hungry lion as he felt cheated and constantly chased rematches with Pacquiao. This made Marquez a very dangerous opponent for Pacquiao, who fought him one too many times.
Although Floyd easily won a 12 round decision over Marquez, it is Manny Pacquiao who has faced the better Juan M Marquez.
Both Floyd and Manny have faced a Shane Mosely who was well past his best years. Floyd faced Shane during a great moment in his career. Remember Shane’s destruction of Antonio Margarito? Yeah, that kind of win will revive one’s career and provide great momentum and confidence. It showed the night he faced Floyd as he hurt him early on.
Shane fought Manny after losing to Floyd and a lackluster performances against Sergio Mora. As he was in the last leg of his career, Shane left Golden Boy Promotions to chase one last big pay day and it came against Manny Paquiao. Shane made $5 million in this one, proving to be his last pay day. In this fight, Shane took no risks and fought to survive.
Although both fought a past his prime Shane Mosely, it was Floyd Mayweather who faced Shane during a better moment in his hall of fame career. Again ladies and gentlemen, CONTEXT matters!
Finally, Floyd faced Miguel Cotto at the 154lbs limit, which was good for Cotto. Cotto was also coming off a win in which he avenged an earlier loss to Antonio Margarito. Miguel needed this win in order to free himself of the Ghost of Margarito. Cotto was game and although many said he somewhat exposed his opponent, it was Floyd who ended up winning by a good margin.
Manny faced a Cotto who was ready to make the jump from welterweight to the jr middleweight division. Plus, this was a catchweight fight, Cotto coming in at 145lbs, 2lbs under the welterweight limit. Nonetheless, Cotto took the fight knowing well that it was going to result in his biggest pay day to date ($12 million). Cotto was damaged goods as he had not recovered from his defeat to Margarito. Following this fight, Cotto left the welterweight division and fought Yuri Forman at the 154lbs limit.
Again, although Manny destroyed Cotto via 12th round TKO, it was Floyd who faced a mentally game Miguel Cotto who was at a comfortable weight class.
So what can we learn from this breakdown? Styles do make fights as it creates a unique context for a contest to take place between fighters with unique styles. Some styles paired together make for great fights. Others result in mismatches. And some result in boring showings. The goal of this breakdown is to dispel any myths that Manny’s destruction of their common opponents is a formula to predicting a Manny win over Floyd.
To Mark Wahlberg, I say this: The opponents that Floyd and Manny share don’t really tell us anything, so stop trying to justify your pick of Manny based on their common opponents! It’s foolish and elementary.
In speaking about Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, styles do make fights. Come May 2, 2015, we will have an Offensive-Fast-Puncher Boxer-Swarmer-Brawler against a Defensive-Technician-Boxer-With Timing. Two distinct styles that should make for an interesting fight.
It is easy to predict what will happen when these two step into the ring, but in all honesty, we really don’t know how this will go down! Stay tuned however, as we will have the BMB Fan Predictions Special as well as the BMB Team Predictions coming out later this week.
Thoughts? Start the conversation!