Sugar Ray Leonard
By Paul Upham: While they have other important fights in front of them before the end of the year, one of the matches boxing fans would most like to see in 2010 is Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hall of Fame legend Sugar Ray Leonard says that is the sort of fight which can help lift boxing back to where it once stood at the top of mainstream sport.
“Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr is one of those fights which we have not seen in a long time,” Leonard told SecondsOut. “Either guy is capable of beating the other.”
32 year-old Mayweather Jr, the former pound for pound No.1, makes his comeback to boxing after a brief retirement, when he faces dangerous Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez on September 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, USA.
30 year-old Pacquiao, almost universally considered the fighter to have taken over the mantle of the best boxer on the planet upon Mayweather’s retirement, faces WBO welterweight world champion Miguel Cotto on November 14, also at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
If Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao are both victorious in their upcoming matches, it is hoped that negotiations can lead to a super-fight between them in the first half of 2010.
“Pacquiao without question has incredible hand speed,” observed Leonard. “I thought Oscar De La Hoya, even though Oscar was a lot older, could still beat Pacquiao. But Pacquiao is such a fast, perpetual motion machine. Mayweather, wow, this guy has everything. Those two guys, it is whoever gets up on the right side of the bed will win the fight. It is one of those fights which creates interest.”
Leonard, who won six world titles in four weight classes and upset the great Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the undisputed middleweight world title in 1987, says that the best fighting the best is what boxing needs.
“Back in the day, champions fought champions,” he explained. “What’s wrong with boxing today is the fact that champions don’t fight each other. It is a lot of politics and there is a lot of money out there. It is destroying the sport. Boxing will always survive. It struggles, then every now and then the brightest stars surface.”