It’s now less than 2 weeks away until fight night on May 2nd and both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are looking ripped and ready to rumble. The excitement among boxing fans are now growing faster like a flu virus as even the non-boxing fans are becoming infected and are becoming boxing fans as well. This bout which is billed as “The Fight of the Century” is now a word of mouth in many households in the US and in other countries around the world. It has become a world event and as boxing pundits put it, this event will stop the world, or shake the world come fight night.
An event which is about 6 years in the making is now eagerly anticipated. To some boxing critics they say it is already late as both boxers are past their primes. But to some, they say that it is just the right time as both Mayweather and Pacquiao have become more matured boxers and are still in their fighting form. “The timing is just right” says Pacquiao who has just released his music video and entrance song entitled “Lalaban ako para sa Pilipino”.
Both Pacman and Bob Arum agree on this as they believe there are a lot more people informed at this time, than if it happened 6 years ago. They stressed the influence of Social Media where more people are tuned in now than 6 years ago.
Being a full time IT Specialist myself and a boxing correspondent as a hobby, I totally agree on this. The number of users of Social Media like Facebook have grown exponentially in the past 6 years (in billions). In addition, there are also other popular Social Media portals like Twitter, Instagram and Web/ Video Search Engines like Youtube and Google. These Internet portals have all contributed tremendously to the dissemination of information about this fight and boxing in general.
As the saying goes “Styles makes fights”. Mayweather is masterful in defense and Pacquiao prefers to be called an offensive fighter. Both boxers prefer not to change their styles during the fight. But both agree that they have to apply a certain degree of offense and defense to win the fight.
Freddie Roach fires back on Floyd regarding his accusations that Pacman is a reckless offensive fighter by saying “Manny is not reckless at all. Everything we do is planned out and it’s part of the game plan. Mayweather is a counter puncher and we have to attack really quick and get out really quick. We can’t stay in the pocket too long. We know how to beat this guy.”
I’ve been asking myself some questions about the fight. Will Mayweather be able to apply his shoulder roll defense against Pacquiao? or his sticky punches? and his push-down head tactic? Can he counter the angles of Pacman? Can he absorb the power punches of Pacman especially with the left hand, and exchange punches? Can his timing score a knockdown on Pacman? Will he allow himself to be cornered by Pacman and absorb those flurries? Will he be able to defend himself against Pacman’s vigorous aggression. Or will he just employ a hit and run tactic?
On the other hand, can Manny Pacquiao’s speed be quick enough? Will he keep up the work rate? Can his footspeed help him corner Mayweather and land flurries to outscore him? can his angle movement and awkward punching skills be an effective weapon? Can he sustain enough damage to Floyd to make him surrender by TKO? Or as the majority of Pacquiao fans have predicted, can he land a knockout punch?
Or will it be a boring fight? (If one fighter plays catch me if you can game)
All these questions remain to be answered on fight night.
Above all else, I believe the “fear factor” is a critical factor. One question remains to be answered. Who do you think will fight until the end and would not submit to the fear factor? Both of them have been fighting for many years, I know, but they have their maximum tolerance factor. Both have a game plan on fight night. But the question is, will that game plan be enforced during the fight. In most cases it does, or not until the fighter gets hit especially when he is hit hard and gets really hurt. That changes things. The fear factor is very critical in boxing matches where, I think I see Floyd Mayweather may fail through submission as manifested in his last 2 fights with Maidana especially in their first fight where Floyd already is grimacing in pain and complaining that Maidana bit his hand which some boxing fans find amusing.
Pacquiao looks more committed to fighting until the end, as manifested in almost all of his fights especially the ones against Morales, Cotto, and Bradley (where he didn’t mind the big cut in his eye caused by a head but by Bradley). Pacquiao leaves nothing behind whenever he fights and is not afraid to die in the ring.
In an interview, Iron Mike Tyson says “Floyd Mayweather will be hit, and hurt more than ever vs Manny Pacquiao”. Boxing great Marvin Hagler also said “If Floyd gets hit, let me tell you, once you’re in that ring, you don’t think about money. This game is called survival. It’s nice that he can flash the dollars around like that but money is not going to help you with the fight – or maybe it could! (by bribing). But it is a risk because Floyd does not like to lose. And with a guy like Pacquaio, you have to think what kind of strategy is he going to use? Is he going to try to cut him off in the ring, is he going to try to attack him early? Nobody knows quite yet.”
Now, what is Freddie Roach’s Game Plan for this fight? Many boxing fans and pundits are trying to figure this out. To me, the real value of Roach as a trainer is not in the training, as Pacman can train by himself or with just the help of his training assistants. It is actually in the formulation of fight strategies for Pacman’s fights. In some interviews Roach may have divulged some of them.
One of Roaches tactics that he shared, is to train Pacman how to avoid Floyd’s right hand and what he needs to do when Floyd keeps on running. How to cut-off the ring and what to do when Floyd is hugging. He also wants Pacman to capitalize on his foot speed by pinning down Floyd on the ropes and land flurries to outscore him, and if possible to land a knockout punch.
Roach has a lot of confidence in his prize pupil and believe that Mayweather will be Mr. 47-1 after the May 2nd fight. He claims Pacquiao still has the power and speed to KO Mayweather. Bob Arum is likewise confident that Manny will beat Floyd and with a knockout win. He said he can see in the eyes of Pacman a burning desire to be the winner. He added that Pacquiao has a better boxing skillset than Mayweather and have more determination.
There are other metrics used to establish the greatness of a boxer. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have their strengths and weaknesses (which were being addressed by their respective trainers). Pacquiao is a multidimensional boxer as he has the ability to hop from to 2 to 3 different positions using his footwork while punching in angles. He has his own ring intelligence or “psyche” which has matured and improved. He has an excellent hand speed and superior footwork. He has a keen eye during exchanges and has a mastery of feints & body language. His in and out movement, sense of balance, distance, timing, his ambidextrous punching with a knockout power on both his hands, and nerves of steel are some more qualities that make Pacquiao a supreme boxer or fighter.
Roach claims that Pacman has become noticeably comfortable with his right hand that he uses the left hand less. To address this, he had training exercises organized during sparring sessions to reinforce his left hand’s power, or to bring it back the way they used to be when he was knocking out opponents. He is convinced that this is the key to a sure victory.
He is also trying to improve Pacquiao’s ability to cut off the ring if Mayweather becomes elusive. Roach on the other-hand, also makes sure that Pacman does not over train as that will bring a disastrous effect on Pacman’s fight. Roach confirmed that Pacquiao’s reported leg cramps has not really been a problem and was remedied by a cream which he suggested. The successful partnership between Roach and Pacquiao which started in 2001, is now 14 years old and still going strong.
Floyd Mayweather throughout his professional boxing career, has maintained a perfect record by being the best defensive fighter in the sport which has been unmatched. He has arguably never suffered a legitimate knockdown and has gone 47-0 despite not being a knockout specialist. The 38-year-old has won seven of his last eight fights by decision, and his one knockout came only against Victor Ortiz with what many boxing fans have deemed a sucker punch.
Floyd’s marketability as a boxer lies heavily on his unbeaten boxing record and little do people know that he had lost 6 times in the amateurs. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games when he was 19, he lost to a Bulgarian boxer called Serafim Todorov who is now virtually unknown in his hometown living a very modest life on a $500 a month pension.
In an interview by Steve Kim of UCN Live, Freddie Roach said that he has been studying Floyd’s style for 5 years now and has already thought of a game plan which somehow has changed a bit as they have gone older. He wants Manny to exploit Floyd being on the ropes while he is resting. Roach also revealed that over the years he has kept animosity or bad blood against the Mayweathers’ especially Floyd Sr. and jokingly exclaimed that if they were left alone they may end up in a fist fight.
Former four-division champion Roy Jones says Mayweather has to KO Pacquiao to win. Jones however said that “if Pacquiao outworks Mayweather, then Pretty Boy will be backed into a corner and has to knockout Pacman. You don’t get Mayweather to engage. Pacquiao’s plan should be to outwork Mayweather and try to outpoint him, because he’s not going to be able to force Mayweather to engage” he said. Some observers say that the key to a Pacquiao victory will be his volume punching, but they remain wary that the Filipino ring icon would be unfavored by the judges if Mayweather would hold up his defense.
Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire said that Mayweather’s shoulder roll defense (where he raises his shoulder to shield his jaw or face from a punch) won’t be effective against Pacman as his opponent is a southpaw and his face will be in line with Pacman’s left hand. He said Mayweather can try blocking Pacman’s left hand with his right hand but Pacman throws a flurry of punches and one left hand punch will get in.
Brandon “Bambam” Rios who fought Pacquiao said that when he fought Pacman he felt he is fighting an “octopus” at one time he is here and then he is there, like you’re fighting 2 or 3 Pacmans. Boxer Shawn Porter said that Floyd Mayweather lacks the versatility to beat Manny Pacquiao.
Boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas who is now rooting for Pacman to win on May 2nd and gave 3 reasons why he picked Manny to win: quick handspeed, quick foot speed and Pacquiao is a volume puncher. ESPN Sports commented and 3 things that Pacquiao needs to do to win: he needs to be fast, he needs to be aggressive and he needs to take risks and get a knockout.
Pacman’s Fitness trainer Justine Fortune in an interview said “fighters like Manny Pacquiao only come once in a lifetime. Jesus, he hits like a light heavyweight boxer with extraordinary hand speed and foot speed. Pacquiao is a phenomenon that we all in this lifetime are thankful to have witnessed”.
Mayweather believes and said “This is going to be an exciting fight. Our styles are totally different. He is very reckless fighter. Every move I make is calculated. I’m always five to 10 steps ahead of my opponent”.
Pacquiao earned his superstardom in much of the western world with his eighth-round TKO victory over Oscar de la Hoya, for which he moved up from lightweight to welterweight (135 pounds to 147 pounds). From then on, he propelled into more milestones by defeating Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in their 3rd meeting. Roach said that the split decision loss of Pacquiao to Timothy Bradley and the 6th round knock out to Marquez has made Pacquiao a better boxer as he became cautious in his attacks and other things.
In all the Internet Boxing Polls that I have encountered (about 10 of them), Boxing fans are predicting that Pacman will win by a stoppage than by a decision. Win or lose, Floyd and Manny will earn $180 Million and $100 Million respectively based on their 60-40 split.
Money is now pouring in Las Vegas. The demand is going sky high as the fight nears. Betting lines are busy and is now 3 to 1 favouring KO by Pacquiao over KO by Mayweather . Ticket Sales have now become staggering. Ringside seats which went to $10,000 are now being sold by brokers for $85,000, and can go up to $100,000 each. This event is expected to earn up to about $74 million from ticket earnings from the 15,000 tickets released for the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pay-per-view tickets are now on sale for $89.95, the highest so far in Pay-per-View history. In total, it is expected that the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight could generate as much as half a billion US dollars in revenue after all proceeds have been tallied. Average hotel prices has now soared up to about $1000 which on the average is about $200.
Whoever wins on May 2nd will become the undisputed Welterweight champion in all 3 Professional Boxing Organizations (WBO, WBA and WBC), except IBF. He will also be the undisputed Pound-for-Pound best fighter on the planet. In addition, If Floyd wins (who is now 47-0, 26 KOs) on May 2nd, he just need 1 more win (before he retires) to even the all-time boxing record of Rocky Marciano who retired undefeated at 49-0. Also, Floyd will overshadow all the achievements of Pacquiao except for the 8 weight Divisions Champion which is already sealed to Pacquiao. There will be no rematch (as Floyd Sr announced and wants to retire when his son retires).
If Pacquiao wins (who is now 57-5-2, 38 KOs) on May 2nd, he will cement his legacy in boxing as the undisputed best boxer from the 112 pounds to 147 pound division for 20 years. Also, he has fulfilled his children’s wishes to fight and defeat Floyd Mayweather, and be highly regarded as the only boxer who has beaten Floyd Mayweather. If Floyd wants a rematch, there will be a rematch and the retirement of Freddie Roach is delayed for one more bout.
In less than 2 weeks from now, the most sought after fight in boxing history will come into fruition. Everyone is looking forward to an exciting fight and hoping at least that it will be like the memorable fight between Hagler and Hearns, or the fight between Ali and Frazier. Whoever you are rooting for, whether it is Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, may the best boxer win.
Alex M. Esmero (Filipino Boxing Contributor – Sydney, Australia)