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Who has had the better career? Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao?

Better legacy? Mayweather or Pacquiao?
Publish Date: 09/17/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Before we have this discussion, I know Floyd Mayweather fans are going to scream that this is not even close. Floyd easily beat Manny in 2015. 

One fight does not decide this debate.

For example, who had the better career, Thomas Hearns or Roberto Duran? The answer is Duran. How can that be since Hearns destroyed Duran in two short rounds in 1984? Simple. Duran dominated the lightweight division for close to a decade. He beat a prime Sugar Ray Leonard at welterweight. Throw in the fact he went the distance with the Marvelous one and beat middleweight, Iran Barkley. 

One point down. Let’s move on to the Floyd and Manny discussion.

Taking Risks

Once Floyd got out of the lightweight division, he was not a risk-taker. To be a risk-taker is to chase greatness, which Floyd has not done. Floyd’s best win was over a damn good Diego Corrales in an almost perfect boxing exhibition. Make no mistake, Floyd took chances at 130 and 135, but the safety protocol came into effect once he jumped to welterweight. Number one, he should have challenged Ricky Hatton for his junior welterweight title. Instead, he skipped that and fought Hatton at 147 a few years later. I am not saying that Hatton would have won at 140, but I will say it was Ricky’s best weight. 

Other fighters Floyd avoided included the bigger Antonio Margarito and, most notably for me, Paul Williams. Williams had the length and style to give Floyd a very difficult night. Mayweather didn’t fight Pacquiao and Shane Mosley until they were older and no longer in their prime. In the case of lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, Mayweather forced him to move up to welterweight. Marquez had no tune-up fight at that weight. He moved up from 135 to 147. That’s tough. Floyd fought Canelo Alvarez when the ginger was still wet behind the ears. I’m not faulting Floyd for this.  

The big problem with Floyd comes after he retired and his joke exhibitions against the likes of Conor McGregor and now Logan Paul. I have no problem with him cashing in, but why not chase greatness? If you’re going to the trouble of training, why not challenge a Crawford or a Spence? You may say he has nothing left to prove but what would another win do for his legacy? I know his zero is to be protected but losses never hurt Ali, Louis, or Leonard, in most cases the losses made people admire them more. Hell, I respected Leonard more after he stood and fought Duran. How can you be considered great if you never challenge yourself and push the envelope?

Manny, on the other hand, has always pushed the envelope of greatness. When Manny was climbing the rankings of the lighter divisions, he had four fights against Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, and Marco Antonio Barrera. These were knockdown, drag-out wars that were incredibly entertaining. Then he destroys Oscar De La Hoya and Hatton and knocks out Miguel Cotto. Please note: Mayweather did not fight Cotto until three years after Manny. He beat the much bigger Margarito who Floyd never would fight and then gets screwed by the judges against Timothy Bradley. Six months later he’s knocked cold by Marquez. His career is over, right? Wrong! He returns and beats Brandon Rios, wins a rematch with Bradley, beats Chris Algeri, and then loses to Floyd. 

Manny is still not done.

He fights Bradley for the third time and beats him. Follows that up with a victory over Jesse Vargas. A loss to ordinary Jeff Horn has to end his career. Nope, in 2019 he shuts up Adrien Broner and hands a much younger Keith Thurman his first loss.

Who wants to be a legend Floyd or Manny?

The answer to that question is very simple, and the answer is Manny. His resume is that good. Floyd, on the other hand, will be the best businessman in boxing history, and unless he wins another legitimate fight, his record for all eternity will be 49-0. 

Manny takes chances to be great, while Floyd wants to cash in. So in the debate on who had the better career, the answer is clear. 

It’s Manny Pacquiao by a landslide.

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