Mayweather-Pacquiao: The Double Standard

ricky hattonBy Michael Herron: The highly anticipated return of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao’s dramatic knockout of Ricky Hatton has ignited the boxing world and sparked a great debate; fight fans are anxious to know which guy is the best, who is truly the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Pound-for-pound by definition was created to describe a fighter with great skill who can move up and down the scales, challenge fighters in multiple weight classes, and continue to perform and be just as successful as they would at their optimal weight. With this in mind, both fighters fit the description well, but in terms of acknowledging pound-for-pound greatness, there appears to be a double standard in favor of Manny Pacquiao.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has won titles in five weight classes, 130, 135, 140, 147, 154, yet none of his ring accomplishments are without criticism from the boxing media. During the Hatton-Pacquiao telecast for instance, Larry Merchant, in reference to Mayweather’s return to boxing, went on a tirade accusing Floyd of cherrypicking opponents, pricing himself out of fights, and flat out ducking fighters.. Yet an obvious fact such as Pacquiao facing an opponent Mayweather has already defeated is never mentioned. It also seemed to fall under the radar that Mayweather had already defeated Pacquiao’s previous opponent Oscar De La Hoya as well.

The irony is that Pacquiao’s claim to being the undisputed best is largely based on these two fights. For the past few years, boxing writers, reporters, diehard fans, and media personalities have adopted an infamous view that Hatton and De La Hoya were merely cherry picked opponents, simply diversions while Mayweather avoided challenges from welterweights Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, and Antonio Margarito; yet these same two opponents are considered grand slam victories for Pacquiao; victories that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. How can this be if they were previously declared “cherries?”

Though Pacquiao’s supporters would argue that his wins over Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez catapulted him to this status it was not sealed until Mayweather officially retired in 2008 and Pacquiao went on to defeat De La Hoya later the same year. Pacquiao certainly deserves credit for his victories over such a famous trio of Mexican warriors but in terms of a young fighter establishing himself--climbing the ladder, who can argue that Mayweather did not likewise defeat great fighters in the lighter weights? Surely no one would argue that Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez, Angel Manfredy, Jose Luis Castillo, were cream puffs.

To further illustrate the double standard enter the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world Juan Manuel Marquez. Team Mayweather announced that Floyd will face Marquez on his July 18th return to the sport. He did not choose any old random contender as a tune-up but a multi-division world champion and in many observers opinion, two time conqueror of Manny Pacquiao. (Pacquiao scored a draw and a win against Marquez). The same media proponents that declared Hatton and De La Hoya “cherries” are now blasting Mayweather for taking a fight against proven champion Marquez. They argue that Marquez is too small or that Floyd knows he can beat him etc...Yet if Manny Pacquiao were to accept a third fight against Marquez, he’d be hailed as a true champion, a true warrior, the real pound-for-pound king.

So what is truly going on here? Is it a weight issue? Freddie Roach declared that Pacquiao’s optimal weight is 140 and that is where he will be at his best. Mayweather, being a small welterweight, appears to be at his best somewhere between 140 and 147. In addition, Marquez has been moving up in weight successfully and it is he who called out Mayweather at a catchweight below 147. Is 3-4 pounds really so great a difference that Mayweather has to be persecuted for accepting a fight against Marquez? Catchweights are nothing new in boxing, why is it suddenly an issue now? Assuming Mayweather defeats Marquez, will diehard fans and media raise this same 3-4 pound argument when it is Pacquiao’s turn to face Mayweather?

What is clear is that an answer to who is the best pound-for-pound can not be given based on their performance against common opponents, or their careers at the lighter weights. Both guys have been dynamic and only a battle against each other can settle the matter. It can be noted however that there is a double standard at play when it comes to Mayweather and Pacquiao. The media bashes Mayweather’s accomplishments but hail Pacquiao for achieving the same thing. Also, Freddie Roach has indicated that Pacquiao will not move up to 147 to face Mayweather however it was just fine to move up for De La Hoya. Mayweather is blasted for fighting Marquez but Pacquiao would be a hero if he did the same. What this all indicates is that it is ultimately not simply a case of Mayweather “handpicking” opponents but it is more likely his opponents who are careful about picking him.

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Article posted on 06.05.2009

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