Writer Predictions: Floyd Likely Winner in Close Fight

Kieran Mulvaney:

After a tense start, expect Pacquiao to start landing combinations in rounds 2, 3, and 4 that will have him look like he's taken a distant lead. By round 5, however, Mayweather starts stepping forward and landing sharp counters and the fight begins to turn. A mid-to-late rounds rally from Pacquiao gives his supporters hope, but Mayweather dominates down the stretch, dropping Pacquiao en route to a close but clear decision.

Prediction: Mayweather W12

Oliver Goldstein:

After a career spent having it his way, Floyd Mayweather finally gets the fight he never wanted when he meets Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night. Call it wishful thinking, blind hope, or an educated guess — I think Pacquiao shows us why the fight remained on hold for five long years by chiseling out a workmanlike decision over twelve tight rounds. No, this is not the same Pacquiao of 2009, but nor is it the same Mayweather either. And those oh-so-slightly-slowed legs on Pretty Boy Floyd, deciding that fraction of a second between escape and misstep, could ultimately prove his undoing.

Prediction: Pacquiao MD12

Eric Raskin:

In a fight that builds pace and momentum as it goes along, Mayweather should be able to make enough adjustments to Pacquiao's speed, movement, and explosiveness to pull away for a competitive decision win, something in the neighborhood of eight rounds to four.

Prediction: Mayweather W 12

Carlos Acevedo:

This may be the top-grossing fight in history, but there is already an anti-climactic feel surrounding it, in spite of (or because?) overkill media coverage.  The reason is simple: both fighters are no longer at their best.  A dynamic punching machine in 2009 and 2010, Pacquiao has since slowed down enough that even the notoriously circumspect Mayweather agreed to face him.  Years ago Pacquiao augmented his wildfire attack with feints and a knack for whipsawing shots from every conceivable angle.  Now 36, his diminished explosiveness has made it easier for technicians like Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley to time him as he closes in.  And Mayweather, beyond the HTML headlines, remains a virtuoso as well as a keen tactician. No matter how much Mayweather has slipped physically over the years (his recent outings against Marcos Maidana revealed a less spry “Money”), he remains a world-class strategist. Capable of controlling a fight from the center of the ring or on the ropes, Mayweather has the kind of versatility that makes adjusting on the fly – a rare attribute among contemporary pros — one of his biggest advantages. Look for Mayweather to control the action between clinches with lead rights and a pinpoint jab en route to a unanimous decision.

Prediction: Mayweather UD

Nat Gottlieb:

Mayweather wins. Floyd’s the naturally bigger, stronger boxer, and much more skilled. Go ask Marquez. He’ll tire Pacquiao out early by slipping punches and making him move, then get more aggressive in the later rounds and knock him out.

Prediction: Mayweather KO 9

Diego Morilla:

There are very few people who believe this will be a dull or extremely cautious tactical fight. Pacquiao embodies fierce and relentless aggression, Mayweather brings a calm and controlled defensive wizardry and offensive accuracy. Somewhere along the line, both contrasting styles are going to short-circuit, and they'll both have to make adjustments in a hurry to keep the other one from imposing his will. In the end, it will be a very close fight that will go to the man who makes fewer mistakes – and that's clearly Mayweather. Is Floyd impossible to catch? No, especially for a fleet-footed Pacquiao that jumps in at his opponents while launching a swirling tornado of combinations around him. But in the process of attempting to connect some of those unorthodox punches from all angles, Pacquiao leaves himself open to deadly counterattacks, especially his opponent's straight right hand. It took Juan Manuel Marquez almost 40 rounds to find the right time to sneak one of those with enough power to knock Pacquiao out, but Mayweather, owner of one of the highest boxing IQs in recent memory, will figure it out much earlier. After breaking through with his tireless explosiveness in the middle rounds, Pacquiao will start to lose ground against a more controlled Mayweather only to be dominated down the stretch and allow Floyd to score a unanimous decision victory.

Prediction: Mayweather UD12

Hamilton Nolan:

I honestly think this fight could go either way. If I were a betting man I'd bet on Floyd. I keep going back to his fight against Marquez. Marquez had four solid wars with Pacquiao, but for Floyd, Marquez was a little toy to play with. That said, Pac is not Marquez. I think Floyd is going to have a harder fight than he's had in many years, mostly thanks to Pac's angles and volume of punches. But I think Floyd's size and reach will win out in the end. If Floyd doesn't move his feet well, he loses. If Manny doesn't throw a ton, a ton of punches, he loses.

Prediction: Mayweather W12

Michael Gluckstadt:

Of the four possible decisive outcomes – knockout or decision victories for either fighter – the only one I'd rule out is Floyd by knockout. That means for Floyd to win, it'll have to be a decision. While that's certainly no stretch, I wouldn't be surprised if Manny's aggressive style and ability to close out rounds shaded some of the judges' cards in his favor. I see both fighters raising their arms at the final bell, with neither willing to admit defeat in the aftermath.

Prediction: Pacquiao MD12