Here we go again [with Conor-Manny]

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CONRAD M. CARIÑO

I can still remember the circus surrounding the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor gigafight from the time it was merely an idea that created so much noise in social media, to the actual bout itself where the American stopped his opponent in the 10 round.

When the dust settled, it was very clear an elite mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter in McGregor can’t just beat a living legend in boxing in the person of Mayweather. Reverse the situation and Mayweather won’t last a minute against McGregor in the octagon. It’s very much like Sebastian Ogier, the world’s top rally driver, not getting even a feet or two of top Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton if they met in a racetrack. But Hamilton will likely crash out of the gravel races of the World Rally Championship in under one minute. But guess who gets paid more between the four of them? Of course, it’s Mayweather and Hamilton. And remember McGregor pocketed $100 million from fighting Mayweather.

But the lure of earning really big bucks from battling a popular fighter (from either boxing or MMA) cannot be ignored, and now it’s Manny Pacquiao who is floating the idea of fighting McGregor.

Well, here we go again.

I mean, is Pacquiao serious about this?

Okay, so people won’t label me a “kill joy” I will just discuss the merits of the Pacquiao-McGregor fight like it was going to happen soon.

This is still a very interesting fight but don’t expect it to generate the same level of hype as Mayweather-McGregor, simply because in that fight it was very clear who was the good and bad guy. No need to explain that.

So who is the bad or good guy in the Pacquiao-McGregor fight? McGregor can take up the role of villain by trash talking and also getting the ire of most Filipinos and Asians during the build up of the fight. And Pacquiao, now that he is a senator, can take the role of the soft-spoken and bullied protagonist. But will that formula work?

The Mayweather-McGregor pre-fight tours helped build up the mammoth interest toward the fight, with the protagonists exchanging barbs and insulting each other. While McGregor got the better of Mayweather in the pre-fight build up, it was clear the American was not greatly shaken.

So can Pacquiao just stand in front of McGregor taking the Irish fighter’s barbs? Or will McGregor show respect toward Pacquiao considering the Filipino is a Senator? Nice questions!

But once in the ring, things could get very interesting. For sure, this fight will be staged at junior middleweight (154 pounds) and the only time Pacquiao fought at that weight was when he pummelled a bigger and stronger Antonio Margarito in November 2010. In that fight, Margarito must have outweighed Pacquiao by at least 20 pounds.

Pacquiao is not known to put on so much weight after the weigh in and my best guess is he would weight a little bit over 150 pounds if he fights McGregor at junior welterweight. As for McGregor, he was easily between 170 and 171 pounds when he fought Mayweather at junior middleweight.

Definitely McGregor is no Margarito, and the Pacquiao who beat Margarito in 2010 is no longer the fighter we see today.

Perhaps we can gauge Pacquiao’s chances against McGregor by analysing his fight against Jeff Horn, which he lost via decision. Prior to the Mayweather-McGregor fight, there were quarters who believed that boxers still hit harder than MMA fighters, and Mayweather hit harder than McGregor. From my standpoint, I believe that McGregor hit harder than we expected; it’s only that Mayweather could also take punishment.

McGregor may also take steps in his training to sharpen his boxing skills, which he did not do much when he prepared against Mayweather. Also, he could address his problem of gassing out nearing the championship rounds, or beyond the 9th round.

If McGregor does address his stamina issues and gets better sparring partners than Paulie Malignaggi, that would be bad news for Pacquiao. So if I were Pacquiao, I would take a long leave from Senate duties to prepare against McGregor.

The size advantage of McGregor is also something to worry about, because he definitely looked larger when he fought Mayweather. The Irish has a three-inch height advantage over Pacquiao, and eight inches in reach. Then a weight disparity of 20 pounds might separate the protagonists when they meet in the ring.

But here’s potential good news —Pacquiao may still hit harder, albeit not by a large margin, compared to Mayweather.

So how will Pacquiao-McGregor unfold? Let’s wait for the fight to be officially sealed first.





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