MANILA, Philippines – HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant believes many boxing fans and analysts may be changing their opinions regarding the outcome of a potential mega-fight between pound-for-pound kings Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
This, after Mayweather found himself in a tough battle against Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto last Saturday in Las Vegas (Sunday in Manila).
Mayweather maintained his unbeaten record (43-0), but had to earn the victory as Cotto was able to pressure him and push him against the ropes, especially in the middle rounds.
“It may have changed some people’s opinions,” Merchant told Boxing Scene. “It’s a question of styles and strengths.”
“I think maybe, the people who favored Mayweather by a lot now see that there might be a way for a guy as fast as Pacquiao to make a better fight than they thought before,” he explained.
After Pacquiao struggled against Mexican fighter Juan Manuel Marquez in their trilogy bout last November, many boxing observers felt that he would struggle even more against Mayweather, who is acknowledged as the finest defensive boxer of his generation.
But after seeing Mayweather get pressured by the slower Cotto, Merchant believes that boxing observers are now changing their minds again about a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.
Merchant also gave credit to Cotto for putting on a sterling performance against Mayweather.
“First you’ve got to give Cotto credit... I thought Cotto was capable of making it a rough fight. He’s naturally a little bit stronger and bigger,” he said.
“I didn’t know how much effort he had in him, coming off the most emotional win of his career. But he showed he was a true pro, and he represented himself and his career very well,” Merchant added.
Like most boxing fans, Merchant is hopeful that the mega-fight will happen later this year, but said it will also depend on a lot of factors.
“It may depend on what happens with Pacquiao and (Timothy) Bradley. It may depend on what happens with (Amir) Khan and (Lamont) Peterson, and it may depend on what (Mayweather’s) accountants tell him,” Merchant said.
Pacquiao will fight the unbeaten Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas.
“He’s a tough little guy, he’s awkward, he’s clever,” Merchant said of Bradley. “I kind of think Manny will find a way to get his punches in.”
Another potential opponent for Mayweather is young Mexican boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who routed former champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley in the main undercard bout of Mayweather-Cotto.
“I thought he gave a good performance. What I said was, Alvarez believed he was auditioning for Mayweather. And he did believe that and he’s called out Mayweather in the past,” Merchant said.
“But after the fight, I spoke to (Golden Boy Promotions president) Oscar De La Hoya and he said, ‘No, he’s not ready for Mayweather yet,’” he added.