If Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are able to come to terms on a mega fight, the question has to be asked: Who is naturally the bigger man? After carefully examining the facts and statistics, the question seems easy to answer; however, the answer just adds to the melting pot of arguments as to who would actually prevail in this bout.
Typically, when a boxer moves up in weight the process can be described as waiting for molasses to dry, but in the case of Pacquiao a better description could be a rollercoaster ride. Before the Philippine sensation won world titles in seven different weight classes, in May of 1995 he made is professional debut at the straw-thin weight of 106lbs. In fact, Pacquiao has been knocked out twice by fighters weighing at or less than 112 pounds. In March of 2005, Pacquiao moved up to the 130lb. weight division and lost a 12-round decision Erik Morales. The loss certainly did not derail the pound-for-pound kingpin, but it was the first time in his career broke the 130 pounds and he did not eclipse the 140 mark until June of 2008.
Currently, as a welterweight, Pacquiao is considered a small fighter, only standing 5’ 6 1/2’’ and having a reach of 67’’. In fact, Bob Arum, who is Pacquiao’s promoter, typically attempts to either negotiate a catch weight or severe penalties for fighters not making the negotiated weight. In his WBO welterweight title fight against Miguel Cotto, Bob Arum successfully negotiated a catch weight of 145 pounds and in the proposed March 13 clash with Mayweather, Arum is seeking a ten-million dollar penalty for each pound that Mayweather comes in over the 147 pound limit. Even though Pacquiao had a suspect chin early in his career, it appears that allowing his body to fill out and gain muscle mass has increased his ability to absorb punches from larger fighters.
For Mayweather, winning world titles in six different weight classes has happened at a more methodical or “standard” fashion. In October of 1996, Mayweather made his professional debut in the 130 pound division and did not weigh in over 140 pounds until 2004. In his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather reached his weight limit as a professional, weighing in at 150 pounds, four pounds under the light middleweight limit. As an undefeated fighter, the self-proclaimed “pretty boy” obviously has never been knocked out. However, some argue that he suffered a flash knockdown in his bout against Zab Judah although referee Richard Steele did not see Mayweather’s glove touch the canvas. For now, it seems that Mayweather is able to absorb punches from larger, more powerful fighters.
It is apparent that if the two fighters were in the same room the vast majority of boxing experts would consider Mayweather the bigger man; however, both fighters have physical attributes that allow them to move up in weight and win bouts against larger fighters. Pacquiao’s physique is that of a short, stout boxer who is able to absorb powerful punches. What makes the Pacman a gifted athlete is while putting on weight, he is able to increase his punching power and keep his natural hand speed. Considering the fact that Pacquiao is fighting larger men and has a big disadvantage in reach, being able to counter and close the punching gap with larger fighters is the key to victory. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Pacquiao’s knockout percentage has remained amazingly consistent throughout his career. Pacquiao has a career knockout percentage of a shade over 69%, while over his last ten fights, most of which are in higher weight classes, Pacquiao’s knockout percentage only falls slightly to 60%.
Mayweather, on the other hand, is winning fights by utilizing physical attributes that are the opposite of Pacquiao. When reviewing pure statistics, Mayweather is the larger fighter, standing 5’8, with a 72’’ reach, weighing in at a higher career weight (150lbs) and has been fighting in welterweight and light middleweight classes for a longer period of time. Mayweather boasts a career knockout percentage of 62%, however in his last ten fights his knockout percentage has dropped to 40%. It is clear that while gaining weight, Mayweather has been utilizing his speed and pure boxing skills, which includes being arguable one of the best defensive fighters of all-time to win bouts.
After analyzing the physical size of these two great fighters, the question can be answered: Who is naturally the bigger man? The answer is obvious, Mayweather is naturally the larger individual, but what does that actually mean? Well, for one, if these two fighters were ever able to meet the fight would come down to the natural boxer with great defensive skills, who also holds a five inch reach advantage, against the powerful and persistent Pacquiao.