The Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight has been anticipated so long that Mayweather’s father/trainer already has a patented poem rehearsed.
“Floyd’s the best/I must confess/To all the rest/There is no contest,” Floyd Mayweather Sr. said.
“Floyd is smarter than him, Floyd is quicker than him, has more knowledge, and I’m going to tell you this right here: Floyd can’t lose to him.”
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach has spent years watching Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26 knockouts), the undisputed top pound-for-pound boxer in the world who on Friday announced he’s signed to fight eight-division world champion Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) on May 2 at MGM Grand.
A few weeks ago, Roach said his careful review of fight film has convinced him Mayweather Jr., turning 38 this week, has slipped.
Roach said his confidence in a Pacquiao victory is “100%. Everyone says [Mayweather’s] changed his style to become more fan friendly. He doesn’t give a [care] about the fans. He just can’t move no more.”
And here we go … .
The matchup sports fans have clamored for since late 2009 will arrive long overdue, yet Mayweather and Pacquiao still rank 1-2 in most mythical pound-for-pound rankings
It’s Mayweather’s foot and hand speed, defense and wisdom matched against Pacquiao’s rapid punching power, creative angles and fitness.
Among those caught up in the fervent, broad-based speculation, former heavyweight champion George Foreman said he foresees Pacquiao winning a decision.
“Pacquiao has the edge … Mayweather makes up [rounds] later, [but] Pacquiao stays ahead,” Foreman said in a text message.
Roach insists Pacquiao, 36, will catch and hit Mayweather.
“Manny has better legs, he’ll be in better shape than Floyd and he’ll be more motivated,” Roach said.
Some of that motivation can be found in the fact that Pacquiao conceded to allow Mayweather Jr. a 60/40 split of the purse, hinging a plan to win and collect greater in a rematch.
While Mayweather’s own conditioning plan is legendary, both in the gym and in his dark-of-night runs through the streets of Las Vegas, Roach counters, “I don’t think running at 2 in the morning is healthy for a fighter. We go by the book. The book wins fights.”
Mayweather Sr. said he doesn’t want his son to overtrain, and boasted because of the unbeaten fighter’s year-round discipline, “all Floyd needs is two good, full weeks” in training. “Two good weeks and he’ll put him to sleep.”
Mayweather Sr. points out Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out any opponent since 2009, wondering how the Filipino can crack Mayweather Jr.’s strong chin.
For good measure, Mayweather Sr. dismissed the credibility of Roach’s multiple past trainer of the year awards.
“He might be the one that everyone gives awards to, but he won’t be getting the award this damn year,” Mayweather Sr. said.
Roach said mental warfare can’t be denied. While Pacquiao might be far more soft-spoken out of the ring, inside “he’ll penetrate Floyd mentally with his power.”
Mayweather has taken some big recent shots over the last few years, from Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and Marcos Maidana.
None of those challengers have been able to effectively sustain an attack against the elusive champion.
That’s why MGM Resorts sports book lists Mayweather as more than a 2-1 favorite (minus 240) to win, and why it’s a 3-1 favorite that the bout will last at least 11 full rounds.
Floyd has fought younger guys with more power and different technical levels,” said Jay Rood, the MGM’s race and sports book director, who said he expects gambling records to be broken along with pay-per-view and live-gate marks.
“Certainly, I think Manny can disrupt him, but Floyd is faster and has the ability to control the ring. Very few people can cut the ring off and get him to spots where he’s uncomfortable. His athleticism allows him to escape.”
The “X factor,” Rood says, is how the tensions and years-long animosity that previously prevented the fight will shape the battle.
“This has been brewing so long, maybe Floyd lets his guard down to take a calculated risk to become more aggressive than usual,” Rood said. “If that’s the case, we’ve got a great fight.”