Manny Pacquiao and the Greatest P4P Boxers of All-Time

Last week in conjunction with ESPN, we put out a few simulations featuring Pound-for-Pound Champion Manny Pacquiao pitted against some of the best boxers of all time.  Today we’ve put them together so you can offer your opinions on what might have happened in these fights that never were.  EA SPORTS’ Aaron Boulding and I offer up our thoughts to stir the pot and get things going.

Be sure to come back Thursday for our extended thoughts on the fight and sim between Manny Pacquiao and his May 7th opponent Shane Mosley because we won’t be pulling any punches on that one.

Manny Pacquiao

Welterweight | 52-3-2 (38 KOs)

Ever wonder how Manny Pacquiao would stand up against some of the best pound-for-pound fighters in history? The folks at EA SPORTS set up a scenario in Fight Night Champion heading into Pacquiao's May 7 matchup with Shane Mosley. In his tune-up, Pacquiao gets to match his skills against all-time greats Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Robinson and Bernard Hopkins. How will Pacquiao fare?

Roberto Duran

Lightweight | 103-16 (70 KOs)

Known for his punching power, longevity and singular moment of weakness, Duran means many things to boxing fans. Nicknamed "Manos de Piedra" ("Hands of Stone"), he is the only man to have won professional fights in five different decades. Considered by some to be the greatest lightweight of all time, he outdueled Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 to capture a welterweight title. Still, it is Duran's surrender against Leonard in the rematch that same year -- "No mas, no mas," he told the referee in the eighth -- that has endured as stubbornly as any of his accomplishments.

Quinto:  Both of these boxers harness great speed.  Duran brings both boxing prowess and can brawl with the best of them.  With chins of steel, I see this one going the distance with neither boxer going down and though I enjoyed seeing and Pacquiao knocking out Duran in the sim, I see Manny instead winning by unanimous decision.

Boulding: I’m not saying what Manny Pacquiao did in the sim is impossible but Roberto Duran simply would not accept a beating like that. They’re both so aggressive with outstanding offense that I’d expect a lot of damage to be done and maybe even a knockout, but neither would dominate the fight. I think it’s easy to overestimate Pacquiao’s place in history because his body of work is most recent, but his competitors haven’t been special enough. Because he helped define an era along with Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, I say Duran operated at a level of greatness that would allow him to take down Pacquiao in a close decision.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Middleweight | 173-19-6 (108 KOs)

The pound-for-pound concept was essentially invented for Robinson, who dominated the welterweight and middleweight rankings in the 1940s and '50s. Having amassed more than 100 knockouts as a pro, Robinson had obvious power in both hands. But it was his balance and fluidity -- he worked as a professional dancer during his retirement -- that gave opponents fits (Robinson was never knocked out) and ensured that "Sugar" stuck as his preferred moniker. Robinson, regarded by most boxing historians as history's greatest fighter, would surely at least give Pacquiao a run for his money.

Quinto:  As much as I’d love to see Pacquiao beating the original Sugar, I don’t see it happening.  Robinson’s experience in the ring and power in both hands is much too much for even Manny to withstand.  Sugar dancing would have Manny singing…unfortunately it would be the blues rather than “Imagine” with Will Ferrell, which was pretty awesome in itself.  Sugar with a TKO in 9.

Boulding:You’ve got to give it up to the legends. They were looking for a way to compare Ray Robinson to contemporaries like Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano when folks started talking about “pound-for-pound” champions. That pretty much ends the discussion for me. Even on grainy black and white footage you can Robinson’s speed, power, accuracy and defense were truly special. I don’t think anybody would just walk over Pacquiao, including Sugar Ray, but there’s a reason Robinson dominates every barber shop and bar stool discussion/argument about boxing. Robinson would knockout Pacquiao in the later rounds.


Bernard Hopkins

Light heavyweight | 51-5-2 (32 KOs)

Virtually unbeatable before his 40th birthday, Hopkins has willed himself back into the discussion of current pound-for-pound greats at age 46. What "The Executioner" lacks in style -- Hopkins is a grinder who avoids punishment and inflicts it selectively -- he makes up for in substance, with seminal defeats of Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Antonio Tarver. Even after adjusting for the weight differential, would his style eventually wear down Pacquiao over 12 rounds?

Quinto:  Pacquiao goes down twice in the sim and still gets a draw?  There’s something fishy here and it must be the judging in the game unless we missed a knockdown or two.  What is right is that Pacquiao would go down to the much stronger Hopkins who’s made a career picking apart boxers late in fights.  Pacman would get the jump and win some early rounds but would eventually find himself on the wrong end of combinations from the smothering style of Hopkins.  Pick B-Hop in a split decision.

Boulding: It all comes down to where they have this fight. If Manny Pacquiao had to bulk up to 160 to fight Hopkins, I agree with you: Hopkins would tear apart a slower and fatigued Pacquiao. If Hopkins has to go down to 147, though, I think Pacquiao keeps his speed and Hopkins loses a decision. Let’s get both of them in those training camp minigames and see how much weight we can take off of Hopkins and how much we can add to Pacquiao to get both of them to 160 pounds.