Legacy is a term that often comes up in boxing circles. To some boxers it means everything whilst others are not too bothered about how their achievements in the ring are viewed by others. As Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr look set to meet on March 13th for the fight everybody wants to see, I thought I would look into who would leave the greater legacy behind after the fight. There’s no doubt these two are the best out there at the moment and for the last few years, so it seems logical to compare the two.

For me, the two main contributors in evaluating a fighter’s legacy are their victories and their fighting style. Yes, world championships are important but with 4 main organizations and plenty of others, it’s hard to say that just because you are the world champ at a weight, you are necessarily the best any more. The public clearly remember fighters who have excited them in more affection than those who produce dull fights whilst those who have dodged other fighters also tend to have tainted legacies. Take Joe Calzaghe for example. He finished with a record of 46-0-0 but is still ridiculed by many fans.

If we take these two points to be the most significant, then it is clear to see that Pacquiao at present is on course to leave the greater legacy. This is a man who has beaten ring legends Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera (twice) and Erik Morales (twice) and although the Marquez win has been questioned, the other four were decisive. (Personally, I feel Pacquiao just about edged both fights with Marquez although I would love a third meeting to settle the score). The incredible thing was that these victories aren’t even the ones that brought him to the attention of the wider public. This has came in his last three wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, all good multi-weight world champions in their own right.

These wins have received a lot of criticism from Pacman “haters” but by analyzing each one of them, you can see that Pacquiao was many people’s underdog, with the possible exception of the Cotto fight. Ok de la Hoya was nowhere near his best when fighting Pacquiao but this was a man who had won a world championship at middleweight and so who had big physical advantages over Pacquiao. However, there is no other word for it- Pacquiao DESTROYED him. The same with Hatton. He is now considered by many to have been a “shot” fighter when fighting Manny but before the fight he had never lost in 43 contests at light welterweight and had beaten most contenders at the weight. However, he was devastatingly knocked out in 2 damaging rounds by the Filipino. Then, Cotto, a world class welterweight, was also stopped by Pacquiao, even though before the fight so many, including me, felt that the Puerto Rican was too strong for him. I was badly wrong but I make no excuses for Cotto and just realise that he was simply outdone by the wizardry of Pacquiao.

This brings me on to fighting style. Pacquiao is all action and throws lightning combinations of up to 8, 9 punches at a time. He loves to get in a brawl but it is very rare to see a messy fight with him in. the action tends to be gripping and for this reason his legacy is bound to be a long lasting one. And don’t forget that this is a man who has astonishingly won world championships from flyweight up to welterweight. This is an amazing feat and truly sets him apart as a modern day great. Pacquiao’s legacy is undoubtedly going to be massive with his victories against such icons of the sport in numerous weight classes in his enthralling style.

In comparison, Floyd Mayweather’s resume doesn’t seem as impressive. We all know what a tremendously skilful boxer he is, but the question must be asked is that enough? Floyd is predominantly defensive fighter and he is an expert at this style. For boxing purists, he is a dream. They say the art is hitting and not being hit and he is the best exponent of that. However, few of his fights excite the public as much as Pacquiao’s which puts a black mark against his name in a comparison between the two.

However, more damaging for his legacy is the tag now being attached to him as a cherry picker of opponents. The fact that he has been fighting at welterweight since 2005 and has still yet to face Mosley, Margarito, Cotto or Williams implies that he is not as interested in fighting the best as he is at trying to conserve his unbeaten record. Men such as Henry Bruseles and Carlos Baldomir were never in Mayweather’s class whilst his bout with Juan Manuel Marquez is rightly criticized as he was fighting a much smaller man who was heavily disadvantaged at the weight. I don’t want to criticize him too much as he has beaten good fighters in Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (just) and Oscar de la Hoya but he could have done more to appeal to the public.

What do you guys think?