Paul J Daley – ‘Bend, not break’ is what instantly springs to mind when referring to these fighters. Manny Pacquiao and Aaron Pryor at their peak was in equal measures, offensively enchanting whilst sturdy enough around the whiskers to offset any weakness in their defence.
Pryor’s prime was from 1980 until his first retirement in 1983 whereas Pacquiao’s is much more difficult to pinpoint considering the titles/divisions he captured along the way, now before I get the Inevitable question that surrounds the weight limit, I do know that he only had one fight at 140, the mesmerising knockout of Ricky Hatton in 2009 but the intrigue is if you delve a little deeper, finding that Pacquiao was a 140 Pounder when he faced Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto and even now considers the weight to be his most natural.
So at the given weight limit, it’s stating the fact to say both of these men were/is a force of nature which lends it’s hand to debate.
As in most fantasy fights, I have gone back over old fight footage in an attempt to piece together an outcome but have to be honest in saying I was lost in the beauty of combat to fully give an educated verdict.
My safety blanket In most instances whenever a fighter of another era is called into conversation with one of the current, I usually tilt in favour of the former especially when close in terms of an outcome but not in this rare occurrence.
As we know both fighters share a host of similarities in terms of style as well as structure, offence is the best defence in this instance with the sheer number of punches thrown sure to break every record in the book, as I have stated earlier, both men hold a shot remarkable well whilst standing at around the 5’6 mark in height, you can already see a pattern and why it’s such a difficult fight to decide, but as I’m forced from the comfort of the fence I often like to sit on, then I believe Pacquiao’s accuracy from his jittery, in/out movement would be advantageous in offsetting the offence of Pryor.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see one or even both hit the canvas in the midst of the treacherous beautiful brutal twelve rounds of boxing but I edge in favour of Pacquiao in taking the slimmest of margins on the judges scorecards as I sit here salivating at the very thought of these two men sharing a boxing ring.
Rene Bonsubre – Two offensive machines who fought in different eras. The southpaw Pacquiao and Pryor who fights with an orthodox stance, are both listed at 5’6”. Both are gifted with amazing foot and hand speed. Both are known to throw punches at a mind-boggling volume per round.
The Filipino holds the world record with eight division belts from flyweight to junior middleweight. He won his first world title in 1998 and is currently the WBA welterweight champion.
The American had a three year reign as WBA junior welterweight champion (1980-83) and fought as the IBF champ from 1984-85. In 2002, Ring Magazine ranked Pryor number 35 among the 80 best fighters in the last 80 years.
This fantasy fight is set at 140 lbs. and the present twelve round distance.
In the biggest bout of his career, against the legendary Alexis Arguello in 1982, Pryor managed to go through the best right hands Arguello could throw at him and stop the Nicaraguan in the fourteenth round. There was of course, the mysterious water bottle after the thirteenth round in Pryor’s corner. But, ten months later Pryor would stop him in ten rounds in their rematch.
In four fights starting in 2008, Pacquiao went on a tear that would be compared to the great Henry Armstrong. He stopped David Diaz in nine rounds for the WBC lightweight title, move up in weight at 142 and demolish superstar Oscar dela Hoya in eight rounds. In 2009, Pacquiao had a brief stay at 140 lbs but it was memorable one. Against Ricky Hatton he was a typhoon, toppling Hatton down twice in the opening round and knocking him out cold in the second. Pacquiao would campaign at welterweight in his next fight and win another title against Miguel Cotto.
How strong is Pacquiao’s chin and is it as strong as Pryor’s?
Pryor had a great chin as shown in the Arguello fights but suffered knockdowns due to his tendency to charge forward with defense being an afterthought. It was his offense that handcuffed opponents. When he won the title against another future Hall of Famer Antonio Cervantes, Pryor had an early flash knockdown but overwhelmed Cervantes who was stopped in four.
An interesting footnote in Pryor’s career was that before he faced Arguello, he defended against a Japanese southpaw Akio Kameda.
Pryor started with guns blazing but was dropped in the opening round. He wasn’t hurt and punished Kameda with multiple knockdowns en route to a sixth round TKO.
A Hail Mary punch from Juan Manuel Marquez had Pacquiao unconscious in 2012. But his chin has held up remarkably well against outstanding welterweights till this day.
The opening round would make Hagler-Hearns look like a Vatican mass.
With both throwing bombs from all angles at a blistering pace. Pryor’s machismo would once again get the better of him and he suffers a flash knockdown courtesy of Pacquiao’s straight left.
Pryor immediately shakes it off and continues his swarming offense. In the early rounds, Pacquiao’s foot speed would enable him to dart in and out, sidestep Pryor’s rushes and score combos.
Pryor doesn’t slow down and tries to outmuscle Pacquiao when he closes the gap past the half-way point. Pacquiao’s accuracy enables him to build a slim lead.
But with his incredible amount of punches thrown, Pryor manages to slow down Pacquiao in the closing rounds making Pacquiao dig in deep to survive.
Both managed an incredible final round with cuts and blood pouring from their noses.
The verdict was announced – two judges had it for Pacquiao by a point with the opening 10-8 round the deciding factor. The third judge gave it to Pryor also by a one point margin.
Controversy follows as fans and pundits voice their opinions.
Dan Barrett – I have Pryor on this via late KO. He possessed denotable strengths commensurate to Pacquiao in the domains of mobility, aggression, speed of delivery and in positional angles;
Yet he exceeded Manny in power, had a far more durable chin, and had as endemic to his style a large component of adaptability – an aptitude which seemed always to be lacking in Manny’s athletic temperament.
Dean Berks – This fight alone could set a record for punches thrown with two of the best perpetual motion fighters in history. Pryor would swarm forward, his guard relaxed, unloading bombs with either hand, his right particularly devastating.
He also owned a fast jab and his footwork enabled him to attack from various angles. But he could also become reckless in attack, carrying his chin too high that resulted in several knockdowns against him.
After Pacquiao’s defeat to Erik Morales, trainer Freddie Roach realised the need to further develop his fighter’s right hand instead of just relying on his potent straight left.
It was the start of an extraordinary run that saw Pacquiao soar through the divisions to become the best fighter on the planet. Even more remarkable considering Roach always insisted that 140 was the best weight for him, yet he only fought there once.
Pryor himself only moved up because he couldn’t get any of the lightweight champions to share the ring with him and he became one of the very best junior welterweight champions in history. So who wins this titanic confrontation?
I think if these guys fought several times the result would change throughout. But if we are talking one initial meeting I would lean towards Pryor.
I feel he would shrug off a flash knockdown and take the early rounds, before Pacquiao gained some control in the middle stages. However, Pryor’s intensity would overwhelm Pacquiao in the later rounds, maybe scoring his own knockdown before taking a close decision.
Let us know how you feel a fight between these two legends would have played out by commenting below or alternatively tweeting us @TOPCLASSBOXING with the hashtag #PacquiaoPryor