Superlatives and hyperbole are as much a part of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao’s "Fight of the Century" as the combatants themselves. The outcome, many believe, will settle the score over who is the greatest fighter of their generation. The bout will also assuredly set new benchmarks for the biggest purse, most pay-per-view buys, and gate totals in boxing’s history.
But on May 2 in Las Vegas, it will just come down to two exceptional boxers in the ring. Mayweather will look to further etch his name into boxing history by maintaining his perfect record and defeating the boxer who every boxing fan has wanted him to face. A victory would also cement his name as among the best pound-for-pound boxers in decades.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, may gain even more with a victory, and not just monetarily. The Filipino icon would immediately surge into a new stratosphere of boxing lore, defeating a boxer that has at times seemed invincible. It would also silence any talk of a career slide after his surprise knockout loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez two years ago, and victories over less-than-worthy opponents since then.
In order to keep the mega-bout in perspective, here are seven interesting facts to consider with 17 days until the two famed boxers step into the ring.
Southpaw vs. Defensive Specialist
For all the hype around the conflicting demeanors and reputations of Pacquiao and Mayweather, this fight is very much about a contrast in boxing styles. The southpaw Pacquiao rose to the top of the sport because of his accurate punching skills and this aggressive style. That lefty style and lean by itself typically throws opponents off their game, let alone the dizzying strength that follows.
But if any fighter is capable of thwarting Pacquiao’s primary skills, it’s the elusive Mayweather. The 38-year-old employs his quickness and vast ring knowledge better than any boxer in recent memory. While’s he been criticized for putting on a dull show at times, Mayweather has always come out on top because of his know-how and patient strategy.
To date, Mayweather’s dropped the five southpaws he’s faced in his career. Before defeating lefty Robert Guerrero back in May 2013, Boxing Scene gave Mayweather a +25 over his four previous southpaw opponents. And he’s kept up those defensive skills, with southpaws landing on average only nine punches per round.
There’s little doubt most of the power in this fight lies in Pacquiao’s corner. Of his 57 career victories, 38 have come by knockout, and Pacquiao is considered one of the hardest punchers in the welterweight division. However, Pacquiao has not knocked out an opponent since 2009.
Mayweather does own 26 knockouts, but has just one knockout since 2007, when he floored Victor Ortiz in a controversial quick-start in 2011. Earlier in the round, Ortiz had headbutt Mayweather.
Richest Purse in History?
It’s impossible not to get caught up in the vast sums of money being thrown around. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will be the richest purse in boxing’s history, with numerous reports indicating that Mayweather will pull down $150 million and Pacquiao $100 million, or a 60/40 percent split.
Mayweather is already the highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes, raking in $105 million in 2013 alone and well above the next closest competitor, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s $80 million haul.
Mayweather should stay on top of that list this year, as well. Pacquiao will certainly move up from No. 11 with an estimated $41.8 million in earnings in 2013.
What Happens in Vegas…
Mayweather trains and calls Las Vegas home, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll hold a small degree of "home-ring advantage." The last 10 Mayweather fights have taken place at the MGM, and the last time Mayweather fought outside Las Vegas was in 2005, when he defeated Sharmba Mitchell at the Rose Garden in Portland.
But Pacquiao is quite familiar with the confines of the MGM Grand and glittery Vegas. The Filipino star has fought at the MGM Grand 11 times, and most recently defeated Timothy Bradley there in April 2014. Pacquiao first fought at MGM in 2001, when he earned a technical knockout over Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001. Two of the past three Pacquiao fights took place in Macau, China.
Pacquiao has fought in Las Vegas five other times, and trains about 270 miles away at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
Accuracy should go a long way in this bout, especially if Mayweather has his way and it comes down to the judges’ scorecards. Of late, Mayweather has been quite accurate with his punches. In the rematch against Marcos Maidana, Mayweather landed 102 of his 177 power strikes. In the first match against Maidana, Mayweather landed 178 power off 274 punches thrown.
Pacquiao has also been devastating and accurate. In the 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Algieri, Pacquiao landed 43 of 60 power shots, and in the rematch against Timothy Bradley he connected on 148 of 344 power punches, while overall tossing a flurry of 563 total punches and landing 198. Essentially, Pacquiao unleashed a barrage of power all but 50 times on Bradley.
Age Difference, Retirement Talk
Pacquiao holds the age advantage over Mayweather, but not by much. Pacquiao, 36, is one year, nine months and 23 days younger than Mayweather.
However, age hasn’t been a huge deterrent for Mayweather. Maidana was six years younger when they met for the second time, and Canelo Alvarez was 23 when he fell by Mayweather’s hands.
Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have eluded to retiring, perhaps by the end of the year. Both boxers have stated that they don't want to continue their careers into their late 30s.
Mayweather’s 47-match winning streak is one of the best in history, and arguably the most impressive. Should the streak stay alive, and putting weight classes aside for a moment, Mayweather would be in the same company as heavyweight Rocky Marciano's stellar 49-0 career. Joe Calzaghe, a Welsh super middleweight who ended his career by defeating past-their-prime Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins, also finished with an undefeated record.
Mayweather, however, won’t be able to touch Mexican great Julio Caesar Chavez’s amazing 87-0 streak lasting from 1980 to 1993. However, Chavez spent much of those years fighting tepid competition, and coincidentally even fought Floyd's uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather.
Should Mayweather defeat Pacquiao without controversy, there will be no debate as to the legitimacy of his perfect-record career.