DSH Boxing Notebook: Mayweather-Pacquiao collision course, Canelo & Kirkland ready to battle

April 18, 2015

This week's version of The Daily Sports Herald's Boxing Notebook features the latest news from the training camps of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather prior to their showdown, and also takes a look at next week's highly-anticipated Canelo Alvarez-James Kirkland battle. Take a look:

Manny Pacquiao feeling confident at his media workout

Over 300 media from around the globe flocked to the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles on Wednesday to cover Manny Pacquiao's training session for his fight with Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs).

A confident Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), revealed that he has gone above and beyond his normal level of preparation compared to past training camps, stating, “I have watched tape on Floyd to make sure that our strategy and technique in training camp is correct."

Although Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, had indicated that he planned to scale back the amount of sparring Pacquiao had in this camp, Pacquiao also commented on the sparring he had done so far, stating, “I have a lot of sparring partners that are similar to Floyd’s fighting style, we have done well. We know what to expect."

In addition to Pacquiao, his promoter, Bob Arum, was also on hand.  Arum has the unique perspective of someone who has promoted both stars in this event.

"It's a very interesting fight because Floyd is a defensive specialist who has a good right hand and picks off his opponents," said Arum of his former fighter.  "He's an extraordinarily good fighter."

“Pacquiao's strength is speed, particularly his foot speed and the fact that he throws so many punches and attacks from low angles," said Arum.  "He really hits harder than Floyd does, so that's really what it's going to be about."

Arum then offered his analysis of the fight and gave some additional insight into his fighter's mentality going into the bout.

“Floyd has a different defense than Juan Manuel Marquez," said Arum.  "His defense is primarily his shoulder roll. A lot of his defense is geared against a right-handed fighter. With that said, I think Manny is going to surprise a lot of people with how he is going to be able to reach Floyd.

"I love Manny’s chances of winning, that's the main thing," Arum continued.  "He looks great, he's motivated, no nonsense, and I think he's going to put on a performance for the ages. It's going to be hard for him to top his performance against Oscar De La Hoya, but I think he will in this fight."

With all the positive talk in his camp about getting a victory, Pacquiao reflected on what a win over Mayweather would mean to him.

“I can say that beating Floyd would be the biggest victory of my career," said Pacquiao.

He also managed to throw in one last subtle dig at Mayweather, who had stated that Pacquiao is a "reckless" fighter.

“The reason I am so loved by fans is because of my reckless style of fighting," said Pacquiao.  "People like exciting fights with actual punches being thrown.”

Floyd Mayweather focused and ready for Pacquiao

More than 200 accredited press members from around the world descended upon the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas on Tuesday for Floyd Mayweather's media workout.

After arriving fashionably late for his training, Mayweather went through a 90-plus minute, no-sparring workout that included working the heavy bag, smacking the speed bag, hitting the mitts with his Uncle Roger Mayweather, and doing calisthenics.

“Everything in life is about timing," said Mayweather, addressing the notion of whether the fight had been made too late.  "I have no regrets that this fight didn’t take place five years ago.  I didn’t think it was that big then, but it continued to get bigger and bigger. Not just in boxing, but outside of the sport. Pacquiao has continued to grow outside of the sport. We didn’t need to rush anything."

Mayweather then assessed his opponent.

"Our styles are totally different," said Mayweather.  "He is very, very reckless. Every move I make is calculated. I’m always 5-10 steps ahead of my opponent."

“Pacquiao is strong and solid but I don’t know if he can make adjustments like I can," Mayweather added.  “Anyone can get hit with a great shot, but I can make more adjustments and Manny can’t."

Mayweather, who has been so focused for this fight that he has gone back to his old school training methods of chopping wood, concluded by discussing his conditioning, and by offering a prediction.

“I don’t think Pacquiao expected me to look as strong or big when we faced off (at the L.A. press conference)," said Mayweather.  “I walk around at 150-152 pounds to weigh 147 pounds. Other boxers weigh around 160-170 before coming down."

“We’ll see what happens when the fight starts," Mayweather continued.  "But when all is said and done I’m going to be the winner."

Also on hand was WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion, Leo Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz and Mayweather have a good relationship, and Santa Cruz, an exciting high-volume puncher, will be featured on the undercard on May 2.

Unfortunately for Santa Cruz, he is only a couple of weeks away from entering the ring, but still does not yet know who his opponent will be.

“I don’t know who I’m fighting yet, but I’m sparring different guys with different styles," said Santa Cruz.  "“There’s always a lot at risk for me. People keep talking about all of these big fights, but if I don’t win now, there will be no big fights in the future."

Apparently the risk of not yet knowing one's opponent, did not offset the reward of fighting on such a tremendous card for Santa Cruz.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to fight on such an unbelievably huge card," said Santa Cruz.  "I really want to thank Floyd Mayweather."

Freddie Roach continues to entertain with his trash talking

This mega-bout features some of the biggest personalities in the sweet science, from Floyd Mayweather to his father to promoter Bob Arum.

Surprisingly however, the magnitude of this event has caused most of those affiliated with the fight to adopt a more business-like approach toward the bout.

The exception to that has been Pacquiao's Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

Since the negotiations started, the always-candid Roach has deliberately launched verbal jabs at Mayweather to get under his skin.  More importantly, for those of us in the media, Roach's smack talking has been the most entertaining part of the build up going into this fight.

Here are a few of Roach's gems:

On Mayweather's media workout . . .

“He was late for his media workout leaving major media outlets scheduled to go live with dead air.  How selfish is that?  It doesn’t take a lot to figure out why everyone is rooting for Manny.  Just look at which fighter has the most endorsements going into this fight and why. When Manny beats Mayweather it won’t only be about unifying the welterweight titles, it will also be a public service to boxing."

On how the fight will unfold . . .

“We have a great idea of when and where we are going to attack Mayweather."

“Mayweather is a good counter-puncher, but Manny has faster hands and his combinations are better than Floyd’s."

“Both fighters have great experience, so I don’t believe that will be a factor in the fight. The biggest thing is that each fighter comes in with a different style. Floyd is a counter-puncher but Manny must be the one to enforce the fight."

“I believe that Manny being a southpaw will be a factor in this fight. Manny showed me tape of Floyd fighting a southpaw and told me that that is exactly what we are going to do in this fight."

On Pacquiao's training camp . . .

“Manny has really raised the bar in this training camp. He’s a different Manny Pacquiao than I have seen him going into previous training camps. He is punching so much harder in training for this camp."

“Manny is better than ever, his attitude is different and I’ve never seen him work this hard. His speed is faster, his punches are harder. I’m really happy where he’s at. His legs look great; he’s on his toes all the time."

“I can tell how much this fight means to Manny because he has watched tape on Floyd. Manny has never watched tape on any fighter before."

“This fight is much bigger than when Manny fought Oscar De La Hoya. Manny is a different person going into this fight. He hit me so hard the other day that I believe it’s the hardest I’ve ever been hit by a fighter who I’m training."

On making the big fight . . .

“He didn’t want this fight.  He can pretend it was a strategy to build up the fight’s value but that’s not true.  For once Mayweather wasn’t able to handpick his opponent.  He was forced to take this fight -- by Manny, the media and the fans.  His excuses for not making the fight haven’t held water for years and Manny finally exposed him.  Mayweather ran out of road. Mayweather may have been the ‘A Side’ during the negotiations, but once he signed the contract he became the ‘B Side’ just like he did when he fought Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and Canelo Alvarez.  That is why he prolonged announcing the fight for as long as he did.  He wanted all the attention."

“I don’t believe that Floyd ever wanted this fight, he was forced to take it by the public and the media. I wouldn’t be surprised if Floyd pulled out now.”

On Mayweather's size advantage . . .

“Since Manny moved to 147 he hasn’t knocked many guys out, so getting the knockout in this fight isn’t a concern for me. If Manny fights at 140, then he does knock guys out, but at this weight he is fighting guys who are bigger than him."

“Floyd may be a bigger guy, but we will still win the fight."

On his fight prediction . . .

“Mayweather may be two victories shy of tying Rocky Marciano’s record [49-0] but I can assure you Mayweather’s party will end on May 2 and Marciano’s record will remain just that – the record.  And Mayweather will forever be known as Mr. 47 and 1.”

On Mayweather incorporating swimming pool work into his training . . . 

“Sounds like we should start calling him Floyd “Flipper” Mayweather.  Team Mayweather would be wise to add a lifeguard to their corner on fight night because Manny is taking ‘Mr. 47 and 1’ into deep water.  Swimming lessons or whatever he thinks he is doing will not help him survive the shark-infested waters he will be entering on May 2.  I’m betting his little buddy Justin Bieber will be walking him into the ring singing [the Flipper theme song].”

Trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. offers a verbal rebuttal to Roach

Trainer Floyd Mayweather Senior has been known to talk some trash as well in his day, and has specifically called Roach, "The Joke Coach."

Mayweather Senior had been fairly quiet during the fight's build up, but on Tuesday he entered the verbal fray as well, offering these entertaining tidbits:

On his son's abilities . . .

“Floyd is as well rounded a fighter as there has ever been, but he’s really still here because of his defense."

“Other guys fight with their head and their mind and come up short. It’s his great defense that has kept him on top for so long."

“I want you all to see it. It’s so plain and simple what he’s going to do. Even Ray Charles could see it."

“Floyd is the best, I must confess. Nothing is going to stop Floyd Mayweather."

On his fight prediction . . .

“I honestly never thought that this was going to happen. So many people were trying to say Floyd was scared. Lets see on May 2 who is scared."

“I can’t tell you why or how, but here’s an update, Floyd is going to kick his a** and knock Pacquiao out."

On his preparation . . .

“I didn’t watch one tape on Pacquiao. There is no reason to study him. He’s not at this level."

On Freddie Roach . . .

“Pacquiao’s trainer Coach Roach (Freddie Roach) is lying to you. Trying to trick you all. Floyd’s not getting knocked down in the gym. Floyd is the one knocking people down. Roach blows smoke with no hope.“

Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland ready to battle

Enigmatic knockout artist James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) recently hosted a media workout in San Antonio in advance of his fight against Canelo Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) on May 9 in Houston.  Former three-time world champion Humberto Soto (65-8-2, 35 KOs) will battle unbeaten star Frankie Gomez (18-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event.

"This is the opportunity I have been waiting for and overall I am happy," said Kirkland.  "I feel blessed, and I am going to go out there and make history happen.

"I want to fight Canelo because I know his style," continued Kirkland.  "You see something, you analyze it, and I feel like I can beat him."

Kirkland offered one last comment about just how prepared he was for this fight.

"I know Canelo is going to put in the work on fight night," said Kirkland.  "I want to be a step ahead of him, so if he comes to box or comes for a slug fest, I will be ready."

Featured on the undercard will be Chinese heavyweight sensation Taishan (3-0, 2 KOs), 2012 U.S Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs), and contender Joshua Clottey (38-4, 22 KOs).

Clottey, 37, has three straight wins since his decision losses to boxing greats Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.  He most notably won the WBA International Super Welterweight title with a 12-round victory over Anthony Mundine last April.

Taishan, a muscular, seven-foot heavyweight hailing from Beijing, has captured the imagination of boxing fans both in China and in his adopted home in California. After turning professional in 2014 and scoring two quick knockouts, the raw 26-year-old showed that he can go a few rounds at least, as he scored a near-shutout victory over Roy McCrary in February of 2015.  On May 9, he will take on Alabama's Ronny Hale (3-7, 3 KOs) in a four-round bout.

A member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, local South El Monte boxer Joseph Diaz is unbeaten as a professional and has earned impressive victories each step of the way. At just 22, the southpaw sensation was 6-0 in 2014, and he got 2015 off to an equally strong start on March 6 with a third-round stoppage of Juan Luis Hernandez.

Cruiserweight Mairis Briedis signs with Main Events

Mairis Briedis (14-0, 11 KOs), an undefeated cruiserweight from Latvia, has just signed a co-promotional agreement with Main Events. Briedis is currently promoted overseas by J.C. Courreges' Biggers Better Boxing, the co-promotion will cover all of Briedis' US and Canadian fights.

"I'm very happy to be joining Main Events and I truly believe that this will be a turning point in my career," said Briedis.  "I appreciate that Ms. Kathy Duva and Main Events have believed in me and are ready to give me a platform to reach my highest goals of becoming the world champion. I'm looking forward to introducing myself to the American boxing world and show how tough Latvians can be in the boxing ring!"

Briedis, 30, is the current International Boxing Association Cruiserweight and WBC Baltic Cruiserweight Champions and undefeated in 14 professional fights. After making his professional debut back in 2009 he knocked out his next eight opponents in a row over the span of three years.

In his last fight he defeated Ismail Abdoul via a 12-round unanimous decision.

Hall of Fame referee Steve Smoger had this to say about the signing, "I've had the pleasure of refereeing Mairis Briedis. He's a highly skilled and world class fighter."

Premier Boxing Champions next bout: Omar Figueroa versus Ricky Burns

So far the Premier Boxing Champions has been a real boost to the sport, with quality bouts and first class programming being featured on free network television to a wide audience.

The next card in the series will feature undefeated former lightweight world champion Omar Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KOs) taking on former two-division world champion Ricky Burns (37-4-1, 11 KOs) in the main event on CBS on Saturday, May 9 (4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT) in Hidalgo, Texas.

“I am so excited to be bringing this huge event to my hometown,” said Figueroa. “It is my dream to fight on such a big stage and bring this kind of attention to Hidalgo. My fans have supported me from day one, and I plan on showing them how grateful I am with a stellar performance on May 9.”

Figueroa will be making his initial start at 140 pounds after a hard-fought ninth-round knockout over Daniel Estrada in a slugfest last August. The 25-year-old Figueroa vacated his 135-pound belt after that defense. He became a champion in 2013 when he earned a unanimous 12-round decision over Nihito Arakawa in a brutal Fight of the Year battle.

Since then Figueroa defended his title twice, first with a split-decision victory over Jerry Belmontes and later with a ninth-round knockout against Daniel Estrada. Now the Weslaco, Texas native will move up in weight when he battles Burns on May 9.

"I can't wait for this fight. Ever since it was confirmed I've been absolutely buzzing in the gym,” said Burns. “I've had some great nights in Scotland winning and defending my world titles at two different weights but I have always wanted to box in America. Our styles gel perfectly for one hell of a fight, neither of us take a step back - bring on May 9!"

An experienced fighter and former two-division world champion out of Scotland, Burns, 31, looks to add a huge victory to his resume when he takes on Figueroa.  Burns recently defeated Alexandre Lepelley in October 2014.

In the co-main event, a pair of bantamweight world champions square off when Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19 KOs) battles Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12 KOs).

An undefeated world champion out of Tokyo, Kameda announced his arrival stateside with a vicious knockout over Pungluang Sor Singyu in July 2014 in Las Vegas. That knockout was Kameda’s second bantamweight title defense after he won the belt from Paulus Ambunda in 2013. The 23-year-old followed up his U.S. debut when he defeated Alejandro Hernandez in Chicago via split decision.

The United Kingdom’s McDonnell has been on a tear since 2008 with 17 consecutive wins. Most recently, he became a bantamweight world champion with a victory over Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat, and later successfully defended against Javier Nicolas Chacon.

Sweet Science Quotebook

Promoter Bob Arum was asked recently who his fighter Terence Crawford most resembles in the ring.  Arum replied:
"The guy who comes most to mind from the standpoint from the fact that he is a boxer / puncher – there is a guy that we promoted for a number of years named Donald Curry. Curry had at a certain point in his career, for a number of years was really a top flight fighter and they said he was going to be the next Sugar Ray Leonard but it didn’t work out that way, for various reasons. But Terence has people around him, like Brian McIntyre, and Cameron Dunkin behind him, to keep him on the right path, so that he will ultimately be able to achieve what Curry didn’t. Terence is a great fighter and Terence reminds me of Donald Curry."
TV Azteca signs deal to broadcast Canelo Alvarez's bouts

TV Azteca has signed an exclusive agreement with Golden Boy Promotions to broadcast Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez' fights in Mexico.

The historic agreement between Golden Boy Promotions and TV Azteca will begin with the broadcast of the 12-round super welterweight fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland on May 9.

"TV Azteca broadcasted my first televised national fight against Victor "El Negro" Márquez, and I am happy to return to this prestigious home and have it be the platform that displays my professional career at this stage," said Canelo Alvarez. "TV Azteca has stood-out for their dedication to bringing boxing to the masses and I am very happy and grateful that all my fans will have the chance to see my fights on TV Azteca."

The all-star announcing team of Box Team Azteca is led by legendary Mexican fighters Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as Carlos Aguilar, Eduardo Lamazón, and Rodolfo Vargas.

"This is a great moment for Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo Alvarez and the sport of boxing in general," said Oscar de la Hoya, President and Founder of Golden Boy Promotions. "To reach an exclusive agreement in Mexico, with a partner as respected as TV Azteca is an honor for us and together we will provide the best fights for all of Canelo's fans."

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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