Predictions for #MayPac: Sportswriters weigh in

LAS VEGAS, USA – Just one day before the fight of the century between the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr and Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2, Saturday (Sunday, Philippine time) Rappler talked to international sportswriters to get their take on the bout.

Longtime boxing writers told Rappler who they think would win the fight and why.

KEVIN IOLE, YAHOO SPORTS

Prediction: Mayweather by decision.

Why? Defense. He’s hard to hit. The shoulder roll is part of it but he’s really a hard guy to hit and especially in the last 5 years, Manny has become easier to hit. Manny has squared up in front of guys and when you’re square in front of him, they’re going to hit you. Mayweather is just as quick as Manny if not quicker and has a really accurate punch so Manny can’t afford to square off. 

How can Pacquiao win? I think 5 things he needs to do: he needs to throw a lot of punches. He needs to move side to side, he's got to mix it up. Go to the body, go to the head. I don’t think he can just work the same way because if he’s predictable, Mayweather is going to figure that out. He's gotta fight on angles. When Manny does that little hop, side to side, he tends to square in front of the guy and he needs to be more sideways. Footwork is important, keep his foot outside Mayweather’s at all times, he’s got to make Mayweather work. I don’t think he wants to hang in the ropes… he needs to stay as far off the ropes as he can and keep it in the center of the ring and make Floyd fight. 

LANCE PUGMIRE, LA TIMES

Prediction: I think the smart money is on Mayweather at least in Las Vegas but I’m picking Manny Pacquiao to win the fight. 

Why? I believe he’ll do so because he’s more committed to this fight, he’s wanted it for a longer period of time and he’s trained incredibly hard under Freddie Roach in the Wild Card Gym and I think his volume of punches is going to allow him to win rounds unlike anyone who has ever fought Mayweather. The key is as long as he can avoid Mayweather’s counter punches to where he doesn’t get frustrated by those I think he can do enough to win this fight. I think it’ll be up to the judges. It’s going to be a close fight, it could very well be a split. I think it could be a very close fight but I’ll go with unanimous.  

How can Mayweather win? If he has that incredible speed advantage that he has with his other opponents and we see that in the early rounds, I think we could know by the end of the 3rd round that this fight is over actually. If Mayweather can fight the fight that’s score, counter punch, stay away – (that’s how) he’s won most of his 47 fights.

BRIAN GRAHAM, GUARDIAN USA

Prediction: Manny Pacquiao by split decision.

Why? Mayweather has never fought anybody with that kind of speed and power and the time is right. I’m not sure he would have won a few years ago, I think Mayweather would have won fairly easily a few years ago when he was at his peak. I do think we’ve seen some signs of decline with Floyd in the past few fights and the combination of that with Manny being as motivated as he’s been in a long time I think will be enough for him to just nick it.

KEVIN MITCHELL, GUARDIAN UK

Prediction: Mayweather on points, unanimous decision.

Why? He always finds a way. I think he’s a smarter fighter than anybody I wouldn’t want to denigrate the smarts of Pacquiao. He’s a clever fighter too. I just think Mayweather knows how to do it. He’s so used to winning that those instincts, if he’s under pressure in this fight, they will kick in… I sort of share Brian’s reservations where he is in his career, I think he’s very close to his exit door, it wouldn’t surprise me either if Pacquiao won.

How can Pacquiao win? He needs to stop him. He needs to knock him out. 

RONNIE NATHANIELSZ, BOXING ANALYST, PHILIPPINES

Prediction: Manny Pacquiao by points.

ARASH MADANI, SPORTSNET

Prediction: It’s going to go 12 rounds, its going to go the limit. I think Mayweather is going to win by split decision so we have ourselves a rematch so everybody collects $100 million a piece and we’ll see you again in September.

Why? I think he’s more athletic, with the more powerful punch. From an attitude swagger attitude, I just think Mayweather is the better fighter.

How can Pacquiao win? He’s just got to work that left, work that speed, try to get him out of his rhythm, try to get him off balance, just to try to get him off his comfort zone because when Mayweather is out of his comfort zone that’s where really he can start to waver a little bit. He hasn’t really gone through that in his career. I really believe what (Freddie) Roach said, I don’t think Mayweather wants to fight Pacquiao but he has to.

DAN RAFAEL, ESPN

Prediction: Mayweather by decision.

Why? I like the defense, he doesn’t waste any ounces I just think he’s a little better in various categories to do enough to win 7 rounds. I don’t think it’s a wipe out, I don’t think it’s a knockout or something like that. I just think that Floyd is good enough. He knows how to box extremely well, not that Pacquiao doesn’t, but Manny is not as technically gifted as Mayweather. When you match all those things up, I just think Mayweather has a very slight edge against him.

How can Pacquiao win? He can land a straight left hand and knock Mayweather out. There’s no doubt about that. Absolutely I think that could happen. I watched the way Maidana put it on him. Maidana is a hard puncher, and Manny is a southpaw and a hard puncher and has the ability to throw punches from angles not to mention that maybe years ago Manny was a one-handed puncher with a straight left hand but now he has a good right hand, he has a great hook also. Mayweather has to be wary. 

DAMIAN CALHOUN, ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER

Prediction: Mayweather, close decision.

Why? I’ve been going back and forth for the last couple of weeks here, my first prediction was Mayweather by unanimous decision but then I started thinking he hasn’t really fought a guy like Pacquiao who’s quick, fast, can move around, jump around, can give him some different angles – I started moving that way a little bit. And now I’m sort of leaning not so much unanimous, but a close decision, majority, split. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a draw, there would be moments where both fighters would be trading with each other. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone would get knocked down or whatever… I’ll stick with a close decision for Mayweather.

NORM FRAUENHEIN, RING TV

Prediction: I’m picking Floyd Mayweather by unanimous decision. 

Why? Precision and I think he’s got the great right hand which everybody knows that Manny is vulnerable to. I think that Manny has a chance in the early rounds, that’s kind of conventional thinking but I think Mayweather knows that as well. I see Manny as a very instinctive fighter and I think maybe Floyd will let him get on a roll which he does often but I think part of that – getting on a roll and being instinctive – some bad habits emerge later and I think he’ll wait for that bad habit that merged in the Marquez fight. I don’t think he’ll knock him out but he’ll hit him with that right hand repeatedly especially over the late rounds.

How can Pacquiao win? Confuse him early. Knock him down early. One thing you don’t talk about much, if he cuts Mayweather early, I think that could really take Floyd out of his game plan and cause him not to panic but he won’t be trying to measure Manny as much as he’ll be worried about the blood… even the slightest cut could make a big difference. Then I would really give him a chance… They need to keep that jab moving throughout those 12 rounds.

BART FIEREMANS, HETLAATSIE NIEUWS BELGIUM

Prediction: I would put my money on Pacquiao, maybe split decision. 

Why? I know Mayweather is the favorite but I like the guy Pacquiao more so I choose a little emotionally wise too. His story is amazing, where he comes from and of course the styles are different. What I think is he has a little more power, he’s fast on the feet. – Rappler.com