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Thursday, November 17, 2011
Floyd or Pac, P4P: Just one man's opinion

By Dan Rafael

When the updated ESPN.com pound-for-pound rankings were published on Wednesday, I knew a firestorm was coming. That's because I dropped Manny Pacquiao, the longtime No. 1, to No. 2 and elevated Floyd Mayweather Jr. from No. 2 to No. 1.

Based on the massive feedback I have received, mainly on Twitter, half the people -- the Mayweather fans -- want to saint me, send me money and gifts and come over to mow my lawn. The other half -- the Pacquiao fans -- think I should perform impossible and painful acts on myself and hope I meet an untimely death sooner rather than later. All over a list that is entirely opinion based? Some people need to get their priorities in order.

Anyway, for however long it was that I had Pacquiao ranked at No. 1, I apparently was nothing more than a "Pactard," the common derisive name Mayweather fans have dubbed Pacquiao fans on the Internet. And now that I have moved Mayweather to No. 1, the Pacquiao fans believe I am nothing more than a "Flomo." What grade are we in?

The reality is, I am not in either camp. I simply call it like I see it, which is the job I'm paid to do. So it was in my estimation that Pacquiao's massive struggles against Juan Manuel Marquez, a great fighter in his own right, this past Saturday night warranted a demotion. After all, Mayweather very easily outpointed Marquez in late 2009 in an utterly one-sided fight, while Pacquiao had to fight tooth and nail for a debatable decision. Maybe Marquez's style will give Pacquiao problems every time they fight. Even if that's the case, it doesn't change the fact Pacquiao struggled.

Meanwhile, Mayweather is coming off a dominant (albeit controversial) fourth-round knockout of young Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17. Even though Mayweather hasn't been very active, it's quite clear that he remains at the top of his game and warrants the No. 1 spot based on his performance inside the ring.

Bottom line: Mayweather looked terrific in his fight, even if you were unsatisfied with the knockout because Ortiz wasn't looking (his fault, not Mayweather's), while Pacquiao looked very human against a smaller man that Mayweather had decisively beaten not long ago.

I scored Pacquiao-Marquez III a draw, 114-114. It would have been completely legitimate had Marquez gotten the victory. Although Pacquiao has been on a great run in recent years and has been more active than Mayweather, my honest belief is that based on how each man looks right now -- not last year or two years ago -- Mayweather deserves to be ranked slightly ahead of Pacquiao.

It doesn't mean I'm suddenly a Mayweather sycophant who will blindly believe whatever he and his team say or that he can do no wrong. And it doesn't mean I'm a Pacquiao "hater" (what a childish term). I respect both fighters' games. Immensely.

Pound-for-pound rankings -- which, frankly, are meant to be fun -- are generally "What have you done for me lately?" measures. It's a snapshot of the here and now. And in the here and now, Mayweather looked a lot better than Pacquiao. Even Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's great trainer, admitted that Pacquiao "just had a bad night."

Pound-for-pound status must be earned every time out. Nobody is entitled to remain in their position just because they achieved it.

So for the time being, in my opinion, Mayweather is No. 1 and Pacquiao is No. 2. If you think otherwise, fine. No problem. Make your own list. And I promise not to curse at you or threaten your family like some of the morons on Twitter do to me daily.

There is, however, one way to settle the issue:

Mayweather and Pacquiao must fight inside the ring. Only then will we have our true answer about who is No. 1.