Manny Pacquiao is fresh off of his second round massacre of former junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton. However, Floyd Mayweather made sure he was still on the tips of everyone’s tongues when he finally made official his assumed comeback from a long layoff. Which one of these two champions deserve to be the number 1 pound for pound boxer in the world?
The answer is a bit cluttered- this is, of course, boxing. When Mayweather retired he was a near unanimous choice for the number 1 pound for pound spot. It was December 2007 and he was coming off of a 10th round stoppage over the then undefeated Hatton. Prior to that Mayweather bested Oscar De La Hoya by split decision in an easier-than-the-scorecards-read junior middleweight contest.
Mayweather had held the number 1 pound for pound spot since Bernard Hopkins lost to Jermain Taylor in the summer of 2005.
In Mayweather’s absence, and with the retirement of Joe Calzaghe, the only logical choice for the number 1 pound for pound fighter in boxing was Pacquiao. He was coming off of his second victory over Marco Antonio Barrera and hadn’t lost since the beginning of 2005, to Erik Morales. Pacquiao avenged that loss twice in the interim.
Now is where our stories begin to converge upon one another. In March of 2008, Pacquiao met Juan Manuel Marquez in a rematch of their epic 2004 draw. The first fight saw Marquez down three times in the first round, only to outbox Pacquiao for the majority of the remaining rounds. The draw was disputed by fans of both fighters as being unjust.
The rematch wouldn’t clear the picture at all unfortunately. Pacquiao escaped with a split decision victory on the strength of a knockdown he scored in the middle rounds. However, the vast majority of observers, myself included, felt Marquez had clearly won the battle.
With the Marquez rematch taken care of, even if it only further clouded the distance between the two fighters, Pacquiao began leaping up to higher weight classes. He fought Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight and retired him in eight rounds. He then knocked out Ricky Hatton in just two devastating rounds at the 140 pound junior welterweight limit.
The choice of opposition is not coincidental. As mentioned, these are the last two fighters Mayweather had beaten before his self-imposed boxing exile. Pacquiao beat both men in better fashion, although Mayweather got the job done first in both cases and De La Hoya was considered a shell of the 154 pound version of himself that met Mayweather a year and a half prior.
To make matters juicier, Mayweather’s first opponent is now lined up to be none other than Juan Manuel Marquez. A fight against Marquez, scheduled for July, seems a pretty good way to prepare himself for a seemingly inevitable showdown with his pound for pound successor Manny Pacquiao. Of course a dominating win would also even the score for Pacquiao’s “I did better than you” wins against Hatton and Oscar.
So who deservers the number 1 pound for pound spot in boxing? Is it the slick boxing, fast talking former kingpin or the explosive, happy go lucky current claimant?
Until we see Mayweather back in action, the pound for pound crown rests on Pacquiao’s capable forehead. Hopefully, the boxing gods will smile upon us and allow a more definitive answer to be given at the end of this year, when a true dream match takes place between Pacquiao and Mayweather.