Manny Pacquiao is linked to three fights right now. The one that everyone wants to see, the one everyone is intrigued by, and the one he’s already committed to.
Everyone wants to see Pacquiao square off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the dream fight to end all dream fights. Pacquiao is already committed to a November 12 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, a match that will reaffirm everything we have already come to believe about both men. The most fascinating showdown, however, is the one that hasn’t received any fanfare to date. In fact, it's one that even Pacquiao has refused to comment on.
Pacquiao vs. Sergio Martinez in 2012?
A week ago, as Opposing Views reported, Martinez came out and publicly addressed rumors of a potential super fight between himself and arguably the greatest pound-for-pound boxer currently in the sport. Acknowledging that his past requests for Pacquiao to come up to a 154-pound catch weight were a tad bit unrealistic, Martinez said that he would make the necessary sacrifice, and that he would go down to 150 pounds.
This is huge on a number of levels. First and foremost, obviously, this presents a clear alternative to the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather superfight that fans felt like they had to hope for. Two, it gives Pacquiao some legitimate leverage over Mayweather – showing the undefeated champion that he’s not the only real competition in town. And, finally, it provides a chance for Pacquiao to add another chapter to his already storied career, a shot at taking down a 2010 Fighter of the Year that many argued was greater than he was last year.
Putting the evident benefits aside for a minute, an interesting hypothetical question arises regarding this proposed Pacquiao vs. Martinez showdown. Who does Pacquiao believe he would have a better shot at beating, Mayweather or Martinez?
On one side you have Mayweather, an undeniably skilled defensive tactician with seemingly no weaknesses. As his undefeated record indicates, he can fight and win against just about any style out there, even if none of them are as accompanied by as much skill as Pacquiao traditionally brings to the table.
Then again, Mayweather has also shown some incredibly blatant holes in his attack at some points during his last two fights.
About a year and a half back against Shane Mosley, he let an overmatched, bewildered old man get the best of him for the first few rounds in a somewhat surprising exchange. Sure, he ultimately won the match, but Mosley getting the better of him on even one sequence was startling.
Similarly, in his last controversial victory over Victor Ortiz, Mayweather allowed the younger, less experienced fighter to gain some decent ground on him in the fourth round before that ridiculous conclusion. Yes, he dominated Ortiz for most of the match and genuinely looked like the better fighter, but Mayweather’s propensity for letting substandard boxers dominate during certain intervals begs the question of what will happen when he faces someone of Pacquiao’s caliber.
Martinez, although not as defensively capable as Mayweather, is a harder puncher and has shown a certain apt for landing vicious knockout blows. Plus, although he may not be as quick of a hitter as Mayweather per se, the fact that he’s more offensive-minded than Mayweather means that he’s more likely to inflict real damage on a given opponent.
The biggest knock on Martinez in a match against Pacquiao, however, would be that he would have to come down in weight so massively. While he maintains that he’s a physical marvel and that he would be able to do it, there is no doubt that fighting so much lower in weight than he has gotten used to over the recent past will take a certain sting out his hits and will have a questionable impact on his durability. Martinez’s versatility, at this point, is unproven.
So, who would Pacquiao rather fight? Well, that question may be moot. Martinez is obviously ready and willing to throw down with the Filipino superstar and, Mayweather, for all his bluster, has yet to even acknowledge that his arch rival has agreed to the necessary performance-enhancing drug testing requirements. One is a real, legitimate offer – and the other is pure fantasy.
Now, the onus is on Pacquiao. Martinez has given him a true alternative to Mayweather. Will he accept the challenge?