For years, fans always asked, debated, discussed, and occasionally went to war on the internet about what would happen if undefeated former five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever crossed paths with former eight-division world titleholder Manny Pacquiao. As early as six years ago, it seemed like the bout, predicted to be the highest-grossing fight in history, would actually go down, though a series of failed negotiations and back-to-back Pacquiao losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez would leave all hope for the fight in jeopardy.

Alas, things in the sport of boxing work themselves out in the oddest of ways. Now, the fighting pride of the Philippines will enter Las Vegas’ legendary MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday night as he finally meets the man they call “Money”, and while things are certainly different from how they were back in 2009, the fact of the matter is that both men still come off wins.

On the “Pacman” side of the equation, the longtime fan favorite rides a three-fight winning streak which comprises of three unanimous-decision wins. What’s more, Pacquiao avenged his loss to Bradley in between impressive outs against Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri.

As for “Money”, his track record speaks for itself. 45 men have fought Mayweather in his almost 19-year career, including two different men with the name “Jesús Chávez”. Mayweather’s last five fights consisted of back to back wins over Marcos Maidana, as well as wins over Saul Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, and Miguel Cotto.

Believe it or not, however, this Saturday’s showcase leaves combat sports fans with plenty to watch for, once they’re past the headliner, but what specifics should fans keep an eye on, besides “the big one”?

Jesse Hart vs. Mike Jimenez

Though Pacquiao and Mayweather may take center stage, the fight between undefeated super-middleweights Hart and Jimenez holds a bit of significance of his own, as we are bound to see a new champion crowned, regardless of what we see happen in the last fight of the night.

For those unfamiliar with either Hart of Jimenez, the most a casual fan may need to bear in mind is the fact that both men are undefeated due in large part to their respective knacks for knocking out men left and right. In fact, Chicago’s own Jimenez fought four of his last five bouts inside the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., and of those four wins, two of then came by a form of knockout. Meanwhile, Hart scored knockout-style wins in his past three bouts, so Saturday’s super-middleweight title clash may very well boil down to who can land their knockout shot first.

Leo Santa Cruz

In an artform that has had a history of showcasing proud Mexican-bred fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and others, it seems natural for this generation of fighters to have a man that goes to war the way that the former IBF bantamweight champion and reigning WBC super-bantamweight champion Santa Cruz opts to. Though it certainly never hurts to be a talent that can show technical brilliance every time they fight, Santa Cruz is a man that knows how to get in, get himself a finish of some sort, and get out with his record intact. Anthony Settoul, the opposition for Santa Cruz on Saturday, has not been knocked out in almost four years, but if anyone can find a way to her Settoul and come out looking extremely impressive while making a case towards a step up in competition, it would be Santa Cruz.

Vasyl Lomachenko

Don’t let the reigning WBO featherweight champion Lomachenko’s short stay in the sport so far fool you. For a 27 year-old Ukranian southpaw, “Hi-Tech” shows some high potential as far as featherweight prospects go. He proved what he could do, not only against Gary Russell Jr., but also against Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, where he hurt Piriyapinyo with ease in the early going and scored a fourth-round knockdown, only to have injured his left hand and fought from the seventh round until the end of the fight with just one hand.

Lomachenko will see a dangerous opponent in Gamalier Rodriguez this weekend. Rodriguez has not been beaten by any boxer since 2008, and despite having two unanimous-decision defeats on his record, he also holds six of his 25 wins by the same token, so despite the tremendous upside he has in the sport, Lomachenko benefits from expecting a long one because Rodriguez plans on making it a long, grueling night for the current WBO featherweight champion and defeating him once and for all.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Even when you get past the hype and the longtime negotiations that have surrounded this WBO welterweight title bout, part of the excitement still lies in how Mayweather and Pacquiao match up.

Often thought of as one of boxing’s most proficient fighters, Mayweather’s greatness results from more than just his use of the shoulder roll and the way he glides through the ring. In fact, he moves so swiftly that when he evades his opponents’ punches, sticks a variant of the jab, and follows up with a left hand or right hand in any way he chooses to, very few see it happening and even fewer of his opponents see it coming.

Pacquiao has been seen as the counterpart to Mayweather entirely because, by nature of fighting southpaw, his technique flies in reverse. Though many question if this is the best Pacquiao ever going up against the absolute best Mayweather ever, nobody will deny the fact that very few men can utilize a combination of speed and angles the way Pacquiao can. Add in a reputation for dissecting opponents and substantially damaging them or breaking their will, and Pacquiao serves as a solid challenge for Mayweather, though come fight night, the consensus pound-for-pound king will still look to neutralize Pacquiao’s knack for combinations and angles by countering him at every turn in his quest to dethrone the southpaw slugger and take his seat upon the WBO welterweight throne.

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.