For this special, historic occasion, I went up the attic to visit my enchanted kingdom. I took out my crystal ball, shuffled my tarrot cards, spread some potion with my magic wand, and lifted the sheets over my magic mirror. And then I huffed and I puffed, I said my abracadabras, boomed my best Merlin voice, and croaked:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Come May 2, who’s gonna fall?
My magic mirror, Moira, she with the gift of grave discernment. She hemmed and she hawed, she fiddled and diddled. Then, like the ominous Nostradamus of old, she quatrained her vision with her spittles and riddles.
I see two noble warriors of a different breed. In a huge Roman arena, so festive, so cruel. One is an archer, raining deadly fire from afar. The other is a swordsman; he will close in, to bludgeon and jar.
The sharp-shooting archer, he will ‘hit-and-hide’. With moves like a panther, he shall ‘strike-and-slide’. But the brave little swordsman, with his trusty shield at hand; he will ‘hide-then-hit’, he will ‘block-and-rock’.
Whosoever exacts his trade on the other, with speed and guile and stamina put together, in this dance of death, he shall be rewarded; honor and glory shall be his forever.
Thus spake the mirror, Moira. As you can see, Moira can also be deft and diplomatic at times.
Indeed, in this epic duel featuring the best of boxing’s best, we see a study of contrasts. On one hand, we see Floyd with an impeccable defense that has never been solved before. Manny has never encountered a defensive genius with a record as immaculate as Floyd.
On the other, we see Manny, whose unmatched offense is like a stacatto burst in a carpet-bombing mission. Floyd has never been tested by an offensive machine as destructive as Manny.
Floyd is a righty. His ring IQ is flawless. He always outwits his foes. He is cautious and cunning; he is the consummate counterpuncher, masterful in setting up traps in the ring.
Manny is a lefty. His work-rate doesn’t allow his foes much time to think. He is fast and furious, he comes in from the weirdest of angles, and is known to take risks just to get his shots in.
Floyd is the finesse boxer. Like a deadly sniper, he will use his longer reach to give him more space and time to protect himself from Manny’s marauding fists.
Manny is the fearsome slugger. He’s like a ranger, crawling silently below the radar, to close in on the enemy; to destroy, to obliterate, to administer to him the fatal blow.
Floyd has the great boxing pedigree, having come from a family of vaunted pugilists who gifted him his ring smarts early in life.
Manny comes from the school of hard knocks, learning the ropes from sandlots and streetfights.
Outside the ring, the schism further widens. Floyd is flamboyant, and loves to flaunt his material wealth.
Manny has only recently become a spiritual person, preaching Godliness and love for his fellowmen.
Floyd has been known to do battle early, trash-talking and playing mind games to unnerve his opponents. Manny has never been known to disrespect his opponent, content to let his fists do the talking. (Surprisingly though, today’s version of Floyd has been relatively silent, while it has been Manny’s coach, Freddie Roach, who has been doing most of the trash-talking.)
Recently, Floyd acquired the services of Alex Ariza to be his strength and conditioning coach. Years ago, Manny had expelled the same Ariza from his camp. (Was Ariza truly hired to condition Floyd? Or was it plain and simple gamesmanship? There are speculations he was hired to gain more info on Manny’s training preparations. Others claim that Floyd’s camp simply wanted to ensure he didn’t give Manny any magic potion of sorts.)
Recent developments in the Mayweather camp however convince me that Floyd is ready for the taking. Consider: Floyd stated recently that he no longer enjoys boxing and is looking forward to retiring. Manny, on the other hand, has shown nothing but confidence and eagerness to ‘bring it on’ come May 2. Consider: the distraction caused by Alex Ariza recently exposed by Floyd Sr. Consider: the uncharacteristic lack of trash-talk from Floyd, a clear deviation from the persona of brash confidence he used to exude. Consider: Floyd has been receiving more punishment in his latest fights due to a diminishing foot speed. Thus, he has added more training in power punches, borrowing a page from JuanMa Marquez’ blueprint to beat Manny. It seems that Floyd knows he now needs more artillery to counter Manny’s superior firepower.
That said, it’s time for me to make my choice now. And Boxing being a game of hits and not of misses, I say that Manny’s going to come home victorious in this fight. And not by a mere decision, but by a big knockout. In the middle rounds. And I’m betting everything including the mother-in-law and the kitchen sink here. Let’s get it on!!!
(Photos courtesy of nypost.com, betboxing.org, hbo.com, dailymail.co.uk, latinpost.com, theguardian.com, philboxing, manilatimes.net)