Few boxing fans would make the case that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are currently equals. The latter has an unblemished record and is riding a 44-fight winning streak, while the former has lost twice in as many bouts. You can’t argue with the cold hard facts: Mayweather is the crème de la crème of boxing; Pacquiao is one defeat away from retirement.
All of that being said, the situation as it presently stands is not is not representative of the way things used to be. Prior to his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley last June, Pacquiao too was riding a lengthy winning streak. He went unbeaten from Sept. 2005 to June of 2012, and he did so while fighting most of the legitimate competition put in front of him.
Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao took no breaks or sabbaticals during his stint as boxing’s king. That fact, coupled with his more aggressive style throughout his reign at the top, make Mayweather’s recent comments somewhat puzzling.
During an interview with the press this week, Mayweather dismissed the idea that he and his Filipino rival were ever equals.
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"You guys [the media] built Pacquiao up to this level, and said he was better than Floyd Mayweather....you guys did,” he said, per Boxing Scene. “I'm not pointing a finger at no particular figure. I'm going to stay in my lane and I'm pretty sure that Pacquiao will stay in his lane.”
Again, nobody can reasonably make the case that Pacquiao in the here and now is better than Mayweather. But nobody is trying to, either. The argument as always that, three years ago, when both were at the top of the game, the comparisons were valid. Mayweather pretending as though present day circumstances apply to past analysis is nonsense.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are not currently equals. That’s a fact. But they were pretty damn close to being equals at one point. And no matter how much anyone tries to muddy up history, nobody will ever forget it.