When Manny Pacquiao defeated Oscar De La Hoya in late 2008, he ascended to No. 1 in the pound-for-pound ratings, a position Floyd Mayweather had abdicated a few months earlier following his December 2007 victory over Ricky Hatton.
Mayweather would have us believe he never fell off the No. 1 perch, but the fact is that he regained it in many observers’ eyes only after he returned to the ring in September 2009 to face Juan Manuel Marquez (although the real pound-for-pound ratings had Pacquiao and Mayweather tied for No. 2 for some times, with no one designated No. 1.But all Mayweather had to do was beat Marquez.
As of 2009, Marquez had never fought anyone so much larger, and the fact that Mayweather won far more handily than Pacquiao had in his two bouts with Marquez as of then made an impression. The notion that Pacquiao and Marquez are an even match persists now that they’ve fought four times.
Still, even Mayweather had to be impressed by Pacquiao’s victories over De La Hoya and Hatton, which were far more spectacular than Mayweather’s. But Mayweather is still unbeaten, and he’s been a pretty clear-cut No. 1 since his victory over Marquez.
Here’s a look back:
MAYWEATHER EASILY OUTPOINTS MARQUEZ (SEPTEMBER 2009)
In a mismatch even worse than I predicted, Floyd Mayweather won a unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday in Las Vegas, knocking down the smaller man in the second round and winning at least 10 rounds on every scorecard.
The outcome may have cast doubt that Manny Pacquiao would fare much better against Mayweather than Marquez did, but that’s based on the parity between Pacquiao and Marquez at 130 pounds. At 142 pounds, which is the career-high at which Marquez weighed for Mayweather, Pacquiao is much more comfortable and much more quick than Marquez was.
That said, Mayweather (40-0, 25 knockouts) looked extremely good coming off a 21-month layoff, and his dominating performance Saturday only intensified the necessity of a summit meeting with Pacquiao, provided Manny gets past bona fide welterweight Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14. At 146 pounds (two over the agreed-upon catch weight, which reportedly meant he had to pay Marquez $600,000 from his purse) Mayweather is good to go.
Marquez, reduced to lunging from the get-go, landed a few power shots but could not jab or do anything sophisticated, and he is a sophisticated fighter when the other man isn’t so much faster, stronger, younger and larger than he. Marquez (50-5-1) landed only about 10 percent of his punches while Mayweather landed more than 50 percent.
The second-round knockdown came shortly after Marquez, willing to take occasional chances, landed a straight right and seemed inspired to step it up. It wasn’t long before Mayweather landed a short left hook that jolted Marquez to the canvas.
Mayweather, as usual, didn’t gamble much. He was insufferably smug, of course, including after the fight, when he tried to wrest control of the interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, who admirably cut him short.
Then Shane Mosley, who has been clamoring for a Mayweather bout several years, entered the interview circle, and a bit of trouble escalated, pro wrestling style. As one would expect in a Mayweather encounter, no punches were thrown.
Mayweather adds a lot of life to the boxing scene. He’s as important as they come.
For more recent nostalgia, read Colin Seymour’s free ebook “The Kingpin Trio: How Three Bay Area Champions Became the Class of Boxing. Here’s the link.