How many times we've read that "Pacquiao is the fastest boxer", "Mayweather is close/faster/ to him", "Pacquiao has power in both hands", etc etc...? Countless times. But I never read somebody who was so kind to explain the reasons why those guys appear to be....the phenoms they are. Instead of praising one of those two guys over and over again, I will try to give you some interpretation of what I've seen and deducted over the last years.
SPEED vs QUICKNESS: the general consensus is that Pacquiao is the fastest fighter ever. I wouldn't call him a boxer YET because his style is based more on relentless attack than skills but anyway....It depends on what do you mean by saying "fastest guy".
People often identify speed with hand-speed. Given this definition, we'll find out that there are at least 10 fighters who were-are faster than Pacquiao in this department. Meldrick Taylor, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, and the list could go on and on.
The tapes of his last fights show that Pacquiao never, EVER, landed on Cotto, Clottey, ODLH, Hatton, more than 3 punches per second. That, by himself, is not a great statistic. It defines an AVERAGE puncher.
Another definition of SPEED: quickness in re-setting and throwing punches while staying in-balance. He is not either exeptionally QUICK, if you come to think about it. Cotto BOXED with some good results in his first 4 rounds vs Pacman, and landed some good counters (before going totally CRAZY and trying to brawl with the brawler). So he could see some punches coming.
The truth? Pacquiao had the classic problem every brawler has. every 2-3 punches thrown, he was off-balance. So Roach basically instructed him to sidestep or step forward slightly before throwing his third-fourth punch. That's what doomed Cotto. When Pacquiao started moving, Cotto punched where Pacquiao supposed to be, but many of his big punches missed so that created room for Paquiao to keep attacking.
Pacquiao ISN'T THAT fast. He just looks faster by moving on his feet. Throwing punches while standing still doesn't give us the same feeling of speed than throwing punches with some small head-movement and some footwork. that's the ONLY thing Roach changed in Pacman's approach over the years. He made a better brawler out of him, a more efficient one.
By the way, about PURE HAND-SPEED, my vote goes to Mosley. Watch his second round vs Mayweather, the first one-two that rocked an over-relaxed Floyd. THAT is hand-speed, gentleman.
Floyd has very good hand-speed, but what sets him apart of his opponents is QUICKNESS. He is the quickest guy I've ever seen. You can't use shoulder-roll techniques if you're not that ready to re-set your feet and throwing punches in a split-second. Quickness combined with his reflexes makes him one of the greatest counter-punchers ever.
Replays and slow-motions will show you that among those three (Floyd, Manny, Shane), Floyd takes the least amount of time to load his punches. It's umbelievable. it's like he is always set to throw his famous right hand.
If I have to chose between speed and quickness I would chose the latter. An example? Floyd fought an extremely fast southpaw in his prime, Zab Judah. At first Zab's speed seemed to nullify Mayweather's tight defense.
But, round after round, Mayweather got used to his speed, and learned that while the execution of the punch was fast, the preparation wasn't that fast => Judah wasn't QUICK. So he could counterpunch Super-Judah at will the other 8 rounds, because he could see some signs that Judah was preparing to fire his fast jab. Floyd couldn't see it coming, but could see that Judah was about to throw it.
In conclusion: Manny Pacquiao isn't great because he's a fast fighter, but because he moves and won't let you hit him unless you couter-punch him while he's throwing his first or second punch. That means, once he starts an exchange, all you can to is tying or defending yourself. The Cotto fight show what you should do vs a fast fighter, and at the same time what you SHOULDN'T do. It was revealing to me.
Floyd Mayweather isn't the fastest guy either, although I would rank his hand-speed above Pacman's one. Quickness is his secret weapon, both on offense and defense.
Mosley is the fastest of this three-some, but hand-speed alone couldn't help him overcome Money Mayweather.
At the end of the day, skills pay the bills, and I am a firm believer that both Mosley and Mayweather would beat Pacquiao. But on any given day, anything is possible, so I wouldn't say that Pacquiao has "no chance" to beat both of'em.
I wish all of them good luck, and I'm gratefull because I witnessed a lot of great fights thanks to this trio of HOFers. Perhaps the most historic battle could be made sooner rather than later. It's up to Floyd and Manny's egos to find a compromise.
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