Common opponents break down Mayweather-Pacquiao

Before Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao square off in their long-awaited showdown May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas -- in what is expected to be the richest fight in boxing history -- everyone has an opinion on the fight, of course.

But there are five men whose opinion and views should be taken more seriously than anyone else's. They are the five common opponents Mayweather and Pacquiao share: Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Mayweather is 5-0 against them; Pacquiao is 6-1-1. So what do these five, all likely Hall of Famers (De La Hoya was inducted last year), think about the fight of the century?

Oscar De La Hoya

Against Mayweather: Lost by split decision on May 5, 2007. They had talked about a showdown between Mayweather and De La Hoya for years, and when it finally came together, the world was watching one of the most heavily hyped fights in history. Following a massive five-month promotion and an 11-city cross-country media tour, Mayweather jumped up to junior middleweight and claimed De La Hoya's title in a cat-and-mouse boxing match that gave Mayweather a title in his fifth division. While De La Hoya tried to pressure him, Mayweather stuck to his plan and outboxed him in a split-decision victory (116-112 and 115-113 for Mayweather and a generous 115-113 for De La Hoya). At the time, the fight set numerous records, including $165 million in total revenue, $134.4 million in PPV revenue, 2.4 million PPV buys and a live gate of $18,419,200.

Against Pacquiao: Lost by TKO8 on Dec. 6, 2008. Making the move all the way up to welterweight, Pacquiao completed a fighter of the year campaign in spectacular fashion as he easily upset "The Golden Boy." The win was Pacquiao's third of 2008 (two for titles) in his third division and made him something of a modern-day Henry Armstrong, the pound-for-pound legend who 70 years earlier simultaneously held titles in three divisions. Although many viewed De La Hoya as a big favorite because of the perceived massive size difference, it had no bearing on the fight. The faster and stronger Pacquiao systematically wore him down before De La Hoya's corner mercifully stopped the fight after eight lopsided rounds of punishment.

Breakdown: "When it first got made I went with Floyd. Floyd hands down," said De La Hoya, who was the biggest star in boxing when he faced them, thereby helping put them over with the public and launch them to superstardom. "As I'm starting to see clips of Pacquiao training and see the fire in his eye and witness the speed, he is looking fast. He's looking like the old Pacquiao. If the Pacquiao shows up that beat me on May 2 then Mayweather is in trouble.

"My head goes with Mayweather, my heart is with Pacquiao. I like Pacquiao. I like what he stands for, what he believes in, I like his fighting spirit. I respect the boxer [Mayweather] but I love the fighter [Pacquiao]. Manny Pacquiao loves fighting, he loves getting hit, being in a brawl. He's used to it, his mind and body. Standing outside and boxing is not him. Mayweather is not used to being in a brawl or fight. That's not who he is. If Mayweather boxes him and figures out how to keep Pacquiao at distance it will be a long, dull, slow fight Mayweather wins easily. But if Pacquiao can surprise Mayweather in the first three rounds and make it a fight and make him think, that is to his advantage. Don't make him think for 30 seconds. You have to make Mayweather think for every second of every round. He's not used to that. Mayweather likes to be in his comfort zone and not exert unnecessary energy.

"We know what Mayweather is going to do. He doesn't change his game plan. There's nothing new to his style. With Pacquiao there is so much room for improvement that he might surprise us."

De La Hoya explained the difference, as he sees it, in their punching power.

"I had good whiskers, I had a good chin," he said. "I can honestly say that for me personally they weren't big punchers but I have to give Pacquiao the upper hand because his past fights have proved that he has that one-punch knockout power. He can also wear you down with the volume of punches he throws. There is more of a sting to his punch that kind of breaks you down and knocks you out.

"Mayweather's punch is more the kind that breaks your rhythm. It gives you the confidence that he's not going to knock you out because it's not powerful but it exposes you. It allows you to go straight in knowing you won't get knocked out but you can't hit him. It's a power that's OK but it's nothing special."

De La Hoya said he believes Pacquiao is by far Mayweather's toughest test in many years, since he won the lightweight title from Jose Luis Castillo in 2002.

"When I fought Floyd the first thing I thought was, 'That's it?' It's no big deal, nothing special. That's what I felt when the fight finished. I felt he was really nothing special and that I had tougher fights," he said. "When I fought Pacquiao I obviously felt overwhelmed. I felt as if there was something special there and he would do special things in the ring after that victory.

"We at Golden Boy promoted Mayweather strategically knowing Mayweather always has the upper hand. For instance, for Marquez, Mayweather didn't make weight and it was Marquez's first fight at welterweight. He looked as if he didn't belong. Putting [Mayweather] up against Robert 'The Ghost' Guerrero, we knew he was tailor-made for Mayweather. I'm not downplaying Floyd. He's skilled, he's talented but now he's facing a real challenge. He is facing the first real challenge since Castillo. This is the first real test in a long time but Floyd is an athlete who can take his game to the next level. He's motivated by the challenge."

Miguel Cotto

Against Mayweather: Lost by unanimous decision on May 5, 2012. Mayweather returned to 154 pounds to face Cotto in a huge fight and outboxed and outfought the relentless Puerto Rican star. In winning a wide decision -- albeit in a competitive fight -- Mayweather won his second junior middleweight and eighth world title overall covering five weight classes. Mayweather slugged it out with a guy who was bigger and stronger, but used enough of his fantastic movement and exceptional defense to get the job done. While Cotto bloodied Mayweather's nose -- a rarity -- with a jab in the sixth round and gave him some bumps and bruises, Mayweather shook it off and did what he always does: win.

Against Pacquiao: Lost by TKO12 on Nov. 14, 2009. In perhaps his greatest victory, Pacquiao destroyed the Puerto Rican legend Cotto. He laid a beating on him before the bloody ending in a historic fight. With the punishing win, Pacquiao claimed a world title in a record seventh weight class (a record he later broke). Although smaller in stature than Cotto, Pacquiao displayed the blazing speed and powerful punches. The revelation, however, was Pacquiao's chin. Cotto, a fearsome left hooker, landed his shots. But Pacquiao never wavered. He dropped Cotto with a right hand in the third round and with a left hand in the fourth round. Pacquiao's flurries landed often and Cotto's face began to swell. By the ninth round his nose and mouth were bleeding. Finally, after taking more punishment in the 11th and 12th, referee Kenny Bayless finally stopped it.

Breakdown: "I think it's going to be a really tough fight. Manny has his advantages. Floyd has his advantages. But working with Freddie Roach the past two fights, I know what he is capable of doing and I think he is going to get Manny to see Floyd's mistakes and Manny is going to take advantage of them," said Cotto, a four-division titleholder, who shares Hall of Fame trainer Roach with Pacquiao. "I'm rooting for Manny Pacquiao. I think the quickness of Manny is going to have a big impact on Floyd's performance.

"Manny can move from here to there in less seconds than Floyd and that's going to be a big advantage for Manny, [but] Floyd is a strong boxer." Cotto declined to make a pick but added, "I believe they have the strength and the one who attacks is going to be the winner. Also who is going to be stronger mentally? That is very important."

Shane Mosley

Against Mayweather: Lost by unanimous decision on May 1, 2010. Mayweather made things look oh, so easy as he rolled to a near-shutout decision victory. Mosley, a former three-division champion, was coming off an upset ninth-round knockout of Antonio Margarito to win a welterweight title. While Mosley started off well, even rocking Mayweather for one of the only times in his career when he connected with a hard right hand in the second round, his moment came and went. Mayweather shook it off and thoroughly dominated with his great speed and a tight defense that Mosley could not penetrate beyond the second round. In the end, it was another Mayweather tour de force as he won a wide decision in the nontitle bout.

Against Pacquiao: Lost by unanimous decision on May 7, 2011. In one of Pacquiao's most dominant performances, he pitched a near-shutout against Mosley, a former three-division champion and one-time pound-for-pound king, to retain his welterweight world title. From the opening bell to the final one, it was all Pacquiao, who won by 120-107 shutout on two scorecards while one judge found a single round to give to Mosley, 119-108. On the way to the blowout, Pacquiao nailed Mosley -- who had been down only twice before in his career -- with a cracking left in the third round for the only knockdown of the bout. Pacquiao cruised to the win despite dealing with a painful cramp in his left leg from the fourth round on. Mosley was credited with a knockdown in the 10th round, but referee Kenny Bayless made a rare error (for which he later apologized) because it was a really a shove that sent Pacquiao to the canvas.

Breakdown: "Both guys are very anxious to prove that they are the better fighter," said Mosley, a three-division champion. "I think Mayweather has the advantage. He can get out of the way of Manny's punches and counter him. He's a great counterpuncher. And Mayweather's punching power is not bad at all. So he can hurt you. Manny is very fast. He throws a lot of punches, four or five in combination and they come out pretty fast. He's quick but sometimes you can predict what he will do and you time him. Maybe in the beginning he throws you off but then you get the hang of it. Maybe that's why Marquez landed the right hand [to knock him out]. He knew he could close his eyes and throw the right hand and land it.

"Mayweather is crafty with his angles. I think it will be competitive. Who's faster? I think Mayweather is faster off the gun, meaning from point A to B. Pacquiao is faster with his combinations and throwing punches in bunches. Pacquiao was the heavier hitter and [his punches] have a lot more snap than Floyd's. Having felt both guys punch, Pacquiao is the harder puncher because I went down. I was dizzy when I got up. I felt in that fight I didn't have a chin anymore."

Mosley went on to describe what it was like being in the ring with both men.

With Pacquiao: "When I first got into the ring and he was throwing punches in bunches I felt like I could get away from him. It wasn't hard to get away from him but the thing was I couldn't throw any power shots and then he knocked me down [in the third round] and I couldn't really load up. And my left Achilles was injured and I had blood blisters on my feet."

With Mayweather: "When I hurt him in the second round I was like, 'Wow! I got him.' I rocked him and I thought I'd knock him out. Then he got away and the bell rang and I missed my chance."

Mosley is picking Mayweather because "I think he is going to be able to move away from Manny's power shots. If I could get away from Manny's power shots, Mayweather can get away from him and pot shot him. Mayweather has the power to knock him out but Pacquiao has the power as well."

Mosley also brought up the fact that if Mayweather has one area where he is not superb, it's against southpaws, which Pacquiao is. "Floyd has had a problem with southpaws before," he said. "Mayweather likes to lean over to his right side and Pacquiao likes to throw the left hand down the pipe and maybe that happens. He has a great straight left hand."

Ricky Hatton

Against Mayweather: Lost by TKO10 on Dec. 8, 2007. Mayweather (38-0 at the time) and Hatton (43-0) were both undefeated when they met in a massive fight as Hatton moved up in weight to challenge for Mayweather's welterweight title. Tens of thousands of Hatton's fans traveled from England and filled Las Vegas, but Mayweather sent them home disappointed with another brilliant performance. Mayweather was much faster, more skilled and far more accurate with his punches as he dominated Hatton. He cut Hatton over the right eye in the third round. In the 10th round, Mayweather dropped him with a left hook and moments later scored a highlight-reel knockout in a fight in which he was way ahead on all three scorecards.

Against Pacquiao: Lost by KO2 on May 2, 2009. With one thunderous left hand, Pacquiao smashed his way into boxing history as he scored a monstrous knockout of Hatton to win the lineal junior welterweight title. The victory gave Pacquiao a world title in his sixth weight division, tying the all-time boxing record. Fighting at 140 pounds for the first time (and coming off a knockout of Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight), Pacquiao's speed was a huge factor. He knocked down Hatton twice in the first round with flush right blows and it appeared to be only a matter of time until he finished the British star. That happened in the second round when, just as the 10-second warning sounded, Pacquiao unleashed a left hand that caught Hatton dead on the chin and knocked him out cold, flat on his back for the 2009 knockout of the year.

Breakdown: "The first five rounds I gave Floyd a good go. It was close," Hatton said. "Then it was apparent it was a different level than anyone I boxed before. His timing and his speed were great. I never saw those punches. You're not gonna beat him boxing. He has that shoulder roll and fantastic defense, but he also fought me up close.

"He likes to fight on the back foot, but he seems to find a way to win against any style opponent like he did against me. When I fought Manny, I think the training camp could have gone a bit better. First thing I noticed about Manny was his speed like in the Floyd fight. But he was heavy-handed, a lot more heavy-handed than Floyd. He punches were more explosive. Floyd is more calculated. Manny clipped me with a lead right hook and even the non-power punches felt very, very heavy-handed. He's hard to read. He shuffles fast with his feet, moves in and out and has no real rhythm. That's gonna be a massive problem for Floyd because Manny's footwork is great.

"I think the reason I gave Floyd so much trouble early on is I moved in quick on him and Manny is faster than me. If Manny goes in and out, in and out, like he did with Oscar and lands the punches and gets out he will give Floyd problems. But Floyd always seems to find a way no matter who he fights."

That is why Hatton is picking Mayweather to be victorious.

"He always adapts," Hatton said. "I would tell Manny, 'Use your angles, your movement, your volume like you did with Oscar. Pick him off, move in and out. Don't run right at him. Floyd likes that. Pot shot him, show movement, chose your moments.' Everyone has tried to jump all over him. Maybe Pacquiao should use a different approach."

Juan Manuel Marquez

Against Mayweather: Lost by unanimous decision on Sept. 19, 2009. Mayweather made a triumphant return from a 21-month retirement and looked like he had never missed a day in the gym as he moved to 40-0 by completely outclassing Marquez in their welterweight confrontation. Mayweather, who scored a near-shutout decision, put on a great display of both offense and defense. Mayweather was much faster than Marquez, who had won world titles in three weight classes at the time they met. But Marquez could not handle Mayweather at all. Mayweather landed a clean left hook to knock down Marquez in the second round and was sharp as could be despite the layoff. Frankly, it was a shock that two of the judges found any rounds to give Marquez. The CompuBox stats show just how dominant Mayweather was. Marquez landed just 69 blows the entire fight (and never double digits in any round) while Mayweather pasted him, landing 59 percent of his shots (290 of 493).

Against Pacquiao: Fought to a split draw on May 8, 2004; lost by split decision on March 15, 2008 (II) and majority decision on Nov. 12, 2011 (III); and won by KO6 on Dec. 8, 2012 (IV). In one of boxing's greatest rivalries, Pacquiao and Marquez have faced each other four times with Pacquiao going 2-1-1 in a series of epic fights. They met for featherweight supremacy in the first fight -- Marquez held two belts and Pacquiao was lineal champion -- and it was a classic. Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the opening round but he fought back for a heavily debated draw. Four years later they met in a rematch, this time for junior lightweight supremacy. It was another extremely close, competitive and action-packed fight but Pacquiao dropped Marquez in the third round and pulled out a close split decision. Three years after that they met again as Pacquiao retained his welterweight title by majority decision in yet another exceedingly close, exciting fight. Fight No. 4, a nontitle bout at welterweight, was the 2012 fight of the year. Marquez dropped Pacquiao in the second round, Pacquiao then floored him in the fifth round and appeared on the verge of stopping him in the sixth round. But then Marquez, just before the round ended, landed a thunderous overhand right to Pacquiao's face and knocked him out cold, face first, in a shocking scene.

Breakdown: "It's a big responsibility to say who will win that contest," Marquez, a four-division titleholder, told ESPN Deportes. "But if we're talking in boxing terms, Mayweather knows how to handle himself in the ring very well and even knows how to get his opponent to fight at his pace and he takes advantage of that.

"Pacquiao's punch and speed will be important, but the main objective is to land his best shots. [Pacquiao is a] very dynamic fighter who likes to turn sideways to not get punched and handles counters well.

"It is difficult to give a conclusion on the result because if the fight [goes the distance] it will undoubtedly be a unanimous-decision win for Mayweather. Both have excelled in Las Vegas. Mayweather handles himself very well [when it comes to] the distance with the jab, right hands and counters. For Pacquiao, he will have to move his waist quite often and penetrating his opponent's guard will be vital [in order to win]."