The Pound for Pound Debate: Questions, Issues and Controversies (Part III)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Mon, 02 Sep 2019
Author's Note: In the previous installment of this series, the rise of Manny Pacquiao as the best pound for pound fighter in the planet was traced following the first retirement of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., his defeat of Oscar de la Hoya and his winning his sixth and then record setting seventh world division titles over Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, respectively at the close of the first decade of the new millennium.
The Pacquiao- Mayweather Rivalry.
Nearing the end of the 2000s, there was no doubt as to who was the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
Manny Pacquiao firmly staked his claim by continuing his magnificent winning streak that started in January 2006 with a riveting revenge 11th round TKO victory over Mexico's Erik Morales in their high profile rematch held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Manny punctuated the decade with landmark victories over Juan Manuel Marquez, David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in the final two years of the 2000s, to go with his earlier wins against Lehlo Lebwaba as well as Marco Antonio Barrera and the aforementioned Erik Morales, both of whom he beat twice each.
Pacquiao downs Cotto.
All in all, Manny won 23 of his 26 total fights, between 2000-2009 against two draws versus Agapito Sanchez and Juan Manuel Marquez (their first fight held in 2005 for the IBF featherweight title) and a single defeat to Morales in their first fight also held in 2005.
Manny won six world championships in as many weight divisions during the period earning for him three Fighter of the Year honors, in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and most significantly, the Fighter of the Decade award solidly cementing his claim as best pound for pound fighter as the 2000s wound down to its final days.
But a few months before the year 2009 bade goodbye to usher a new decade, Floyd Mayweather Jr ended his two years retirement and made a stirring comeback with a one sided unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in a high profile overweight match in Las Vegas.
Floyd surprise comeback immediately started debates among the boxing fans as to who between him and Manny was the real pound for pound king.
The rivalry between the two was even fueled by the Ring Magazine's reinstalling Floyd in its top pound for pound list at number two behind Manny.
However, Manny strengthened his hold at number one spot with a convincing title defense victory over Joshua Clottey and a record setting eighth weight division world title conquest with a brutal points win over Antonio Margarito for the vacant WBC super middleweight championship in 2010.
Pacquiao overpowers Clottey.
Mayweather defeats Mosley.
Floyd responded with a fight and points win versus Shane Mosley in a high profile 12 rounder without Mosley's WBC title at stake.
It was at around this time that the first attempt to pit the two was made but due to promotional politics and issues including pre and post fight drug testing through blood samples, the negotiations broke down with both parties accusing each other as the one in fault.
Manny would continue to keep his hold on top post in 2011 with victories over Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in the defense of his WBO welterweight title. Mayweather would only have a controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz for the WBC welterweight crown to show for the entire year.
Seeing that his one fight a year schedule was not enough to dislodge Manny, Floyd changed tack in 2012 and proceeded not only to increase his output to two fights but also to campaign once again at super welterweight in a bid to top Manny' s previous victory at 154 over Margarito.
Floyd had already won a world title at super welterweight over Oscar de la Hoya in 2007 which made him not only the best pound for pound fighter of the world but also the Fighter of the Year.
But that victory aside from being a near distant memory by 2012 had been eclipsed by Manny's more impressive wins over the same De la Hoya and the bigger Margarito in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Mayweather traps Cotto.
Thus, Floyd decided to take on then WBC super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, incidentally a former Pacquiao victim, for a second reign at 154 lbs. Floyd went on to beat Cotto by comfortable points decision and became a simultaneous two weight division champion. Later in that same year, he made a successful defense of his WBC welterweight title by another unanimous decision win over then WBA welterweught titlist Robert Guerrero, after which he vacated his super welterweight crown.
Meanwhile, Manny's career, partly or largely on account of Bob Arum's promotional maneuvering, suffered a couple of major blows that same year, 2012. First he lost on a questionable split decision to Timothy Bradley losing his WBO welterweight crown. In December, he lost by upset sixth round knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth and final meeting.
Without fighting Pacquiao therefore, Floyd managed to grab the top pound for pound fighter ranking and for the first time in three years, Manny fell from his very lofty ranking, though he still remained in the top five owing to the controversial and quite unexpected nature of his defeats.
Bradley on wheelchair won a controversial decision over Pacquiao.
In fact, those losses even had more the effects of pushing both Bradley and Marquez up than pulling Manny way down in the rankings attesting to the abiding faith of both experts and fans on Pacquiao's quality as an elite fighter capable of staging magnificent comeback.
Not surprisingly, therefore, despite those two Manny defeats, fans continued to argue and debate about who was better than him and Floyd, notwithstanding their contrasting overall ring record. Some even argued that those losses should spur Floyd to muster enough courage to quit ducking and finally take on Pacquiao.
The debate and clamor of the fans especially in the USA even grew in intensity following Pacquiao's stirring comeback in the next two years, 2013-2014 with dominating victories over Brandon Rios, Bradley from whom he regained his WBO belt and Chris Algieri in a title defense.
During that same period, Floyd's stock rose with morale boosting win over a still little wet behind the ears Canelo Alvarez for another WBC belt at super welteerweight. And fell with his struggling WBC welterweight title defense twice in succession against Marcos Maidana who in the recent past, lost to Amir Khan and was nearly beaten by former Pacquiao victim Erik Morales in bouts at 140 lbs.
Pacquiao and Mayweather had a chance meeting during a basketball game in Miami in 2015.
With both fighters needing a defining fight to seal their respective legacy before Father Time knocks them both out, the two superstars personally went out of their way to clear all obstacles for their ring confrontation. With Al Haymon on the same page, they successfully managed to neutralize the single biggest hurdle in Bob Arum by working through the big networks who agreed to co broadcast their fight.
The stage was therefore set for the eventual meeting of Floyd Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in a world welterweight title unification fight which was billed as the Fight of the Century, (that is the new century as the first fight carrying that billing was between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier held in 1971).
More than the WBC and the WBO world titles held by the two, what was stake was the title as the best pound for pound fighter of the planet.
To be continued.
Previous articles in this series:
Part I: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part II: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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