DSH Boxing Notebook: Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Has Finally Arrived

May 2, 2015

This week's version of The Daily Sports Herald's Boxing Notebook focuses on the biggest fight in decades, Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) versus Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs).  What many thought would never happen is now upon us, as Friday's weigh-in brought us the joyful reality that these two future Hall of Famers are actually going to do battle.  Below is the latest news from fight week in Las Vegas.  Take a look:

Trainers continue to talk smack

Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Freddie Roach, trainers for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, respectively, met with the media this week to discuss Saturday’s welterweight championship showdown.

While the fighters themselves have behaved like perfect gentlemen throughout the promotion of this bout, their trainers have been far more interesting when placed in front of a microphone.

Here are a few nuggets from Mayweather Sr. . . . 

“To be honest with you, it’s not going to be much of a fight."

“This fight has already been won. We can beat Manny any day, any time, any year, any moment."

“Manny’s best performance was when he got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez."

“I think it’s best for Floyd to choose what he wants to do at the end of the year. I think he should retire, because if he sticks around, somebody is going to get you sooner or later.”

“Whatever happens on Saturday, it’s going to be one-sided. Pacquiao is going to sleep."

“I’m a trainer, I know what’s going on with fighters. Pacquiao doesn’t have it."

“Everybody can say what they want to say. I’ve said it before, Pacquiao can’t punch. I’m not worried about it. I’m going to have Floyd walk him down.”

Freddie Roach provided some great material as well . . . 

“We’ve have trained so hard for this fight. This fight has two of the best fighters fighting each other."

“I’ve been training Manny for this fight for five years. We know all about him, we have covered all the bases. I think we have the winning formula to win this fight."

“If we were to lose to an undefeated fighter like this, there’s no shame in that."

“Floyd’s a good fighter, but he has picked his opponents. I don’t think he picked Manny. I think he was forced to take this fight."

“Manny was down to 143 pounds yesterday, so I told him to eat a good meal and then we will do a light workout later today. Tomorrow he will have breakfast in the morning and then get on the scale.”

“When this fight was announced, Manny’s training level went way up.  He’s really excited about this fight."

“I think we will win a decision and outpoint this guy. If the knockout comes then that will be a bonus."

“I think Manny likes to be the underdog. We like pulling upsets and doing things we’re not supposed to do. Manny is going to be that guy."

“We will put a lot of pressure on Floyd. Manny likes to exchange and with his hand speed, this fight will go in our favor."

“Manny is reckless, but that’s his style. He tries to win fights and people enjoy his fights. He gives it his all and sometimes you get knocked out, that’s part of boxing.”

“Floyd’s never fought anyone with better speed than he has and I believe we have better speed. I believe we have better power than he has and we’re using that. I don’t think Floyd’s legs are there anymore and he can’t run for 12 rounds  because we will catch him on the way. We’re ready to go 12 hard rounds and that’s what we train for."

“I learned a lot from Floyd’s fight with Oscar De La Hoya. I thought he won the first six rounds and then lost track of the strategy. We learned a lot about how Floyd sets traps and Manny recognizes how he sets trap. He won’t fall into it ever and Manny knows exactly what to do in every situation."

“I think we can win a decision. We can outpoint him no problem."

“Manny is definitely ready for this fight, we’ve had a great strategy. We’ve actually really worked on this fight together."

“Manny took me into his room many times to dissect tape on Mayweather and how he fights against certain people. This is the first time he has ever asked me to watch film with him. I liked what he showed me on the tape and I think that we’re perfect for this fight."

“From the first day this fight was announced, I’ve seen a different attitude in Manny. He has really taken his training to a new level. He is very motivated and I love what I see every day.”

Heavyweight legend George Foreman offers fight prediction

This past week two-time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman was on CBS Sports Radio’s “The Doug Gottlieb Show” with host Doug Gottlieb, where he talked about the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.  Below are some highlights from the interview:

On the magnitude of the event . . .

“This is major… boxing deserves something like this… I’m just happy the fight is happening, and it’s happening right now.  Because everyone will get a chance to see what they wanted to see.  If it had happened five years ago, there would have been some too young to enjoy [and] some old enough to say, ‘Hey, there was better days.’  But now everyone’s hungry for the matchup of the century.  [These are] evenly matched fighters.  It’s a fan’s fight, and it should be.  It’s big.”

On advice he would give Pacquiao . . .

“Hey, just win this round,” Foreman said. “Every time you come back to the corner, you sit down on the stool, wave the towel over him and don’t say anything.  The bell rings, go get him again.  Do the same thing you did the first round all the way through the sixth or seventh round, and you’ll win.”

On who will win . . . 

“That’s true… [Mayweather’s] got everything to lose.  But boxing was invented for the underdog – for the smaller guy who doesn’t have a chance – to come up with a way to beat the bigger, stronger guy.  That’s why I give it to Pacquiao.  The sport was invented… for the lesser.”

The Five Year Wait Controversy

A minor complaint during the promotion of the fight has been that it should have happened five years ago.  Some have gone so far as to say they won't watch the fight because it its shelf life has passed.

Make no mistake, the journalists making such statements would not have watched this fight no matter when it was made, as they typically involve media members who never watch the sport to begin with, and who simply want to put out a contrarian opinion, regardless of how nonsensical it may be.

In truth, the five year wait has made the fight immensely more profitable from a business standpoint.

From a quality standpoint, there has been some minor deterioration, but let's get some perspective here and not exaggerate for the sake of simply grabbing headlines.

If Mayweather has slipped a bit, then it has been a very minimal fall, since he still is the pound-for-pound number one fighter in the entire sport.

Pacquiao remains a clear top 5 pound-for-pound fighter at worst, and arguably could claim to be at the number two spot given Andre Ward's inactivity.  He just embarrassed a young slugger in Brandon Rios, and proved to be of a better class of fighter than star boxer Tim Bradley.

We are not exactly talking about Leonard-Duran III, or Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II, as those clueless critics may make you want to think.  These two remain at the highest levels of their profession.

If there is any deterioration, it is by their own superlative and self-imposed standards, nothing more.

The real question is, who has the wait hurt more?  The answer: Pacquiao.

Although Roach thinks Mayweather's legs are shot at this stage, the wait has helped him more.

Five years ago, Pacquiao was a tornado of energy and high punch volume, which would have spelled major  trouble for Mayweather's low work rate of occasional potshots.

Pacquiao at the time even stated that he believed Mayweather was waiting for him to get old.

Turns out he was right, to a degree, as Pacquiao has been a bit more cautious since his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.

Nevertheless, claims of any massive deterioration on Manny's part again are quite simply gross exaggerations.  The man still dominates all others in his division and continues to outwork his opponents.  If there is some fading on his part, it is not drastic by any means.

So will the quality of the fight be significantly compromised by waiting five years?


The final press conference

Mayweather and Pacquiao faced off for only the third time Wednesday during the final press conference.

The last time the boxing superstars met face-to-face was at the Los Angeles press conference to formally announce the mega-fight on March 11. The first time they were photographed up close and personal came at a Miami Heat basketball game in January.

Here is what the fighters and executives said Wednesday at the MGM Grand:

Floyd Mayweather . . .

“The only thing I can do is take it one day at a time. When the fight gets here I will go out there and do what I do best and that’s go out and fight."

“From the beginning of my career, I’ve always had a game plan. It’s just like chess. We make calculated moves in the ring and outside the ring. I got with the right team and surrounded myself with the right chess pieces."

“I’m a lot wiser than I once was. This fight sells itself. Our ultimate goal was to get to this point, whether it was Manny or another fighter."

“I don’t take anything away from Manny Pacquiao. He’s a solid fighter; a solid competitor and it will be an intriguing matchup come Saturday."

“Everything takes time, it’s all about timing. I’m glad that we had patience and didn’t rush. The time is now, this is the right time for this fight."

“I want to thank all the writers for being here. Some have been around since I was 10-years-old, some have been here for my 19 years in this sport. I’m thankful for all the writers, whether the stories were good stories or bad, you guys kept me relevant for 19 years."

“This fight is about one fighter who is at the top fighting another fighter who is at the top. It’s about giving you guys excitement. We don’t know how this fight is going to play out, but I believe in my skills. I believe I am going to be victorious."

“When I went to training camp I worked extremely hard to win this fight and I’m pretty sure Manny did the same. That’s why this is an intriguing matchup.”

Manny Pacquiao . . .

“I’m so happy because that feeling and that focus that I had many years ago, is back. I’m confident and relaxed."

“My love and eagerness for this fight has made me especially interested."

“Before I became a boxer, I used to sleep on the street. I can’t believe that I am in this position. The boy who didn’t have food and slept on the street can have this life."

Fighter Arrivals in Las Vegas

Late Tuesday morning, Pacquiao hosted his arrival inside a Mandalay Bay ballroom that included a large gathering of loyal followers who watched Filipino singers and dancers perform before Pacquiao came out to greet and speak to his fans.

A couple of hours later, fans turned out to watch Mayweather's arrival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, as he was led to the stage by the Southern University Marching Band.

Here is what the fighters said in Las Vegas on Tuesday:

Floyd Mayweather . . . 

“I don’t have anything negative to say about Manny Pacquiao or Freddie Roach. People from different teams can say things, but when it comes down to it, it comes down to the two fighters."

“I don’t focus on all the festivities going on. I just focus on being the best that I can be and doing what I’m supposed to do in the gym."

“I don’t ever say that ‘this is my toughest fight’ or ‘this is my easiest’ fight. I feel like he is a competitor and anything can happen in the sport of boxing. I always want to go out there and be at my best."

“I’ve broken records before. Are we going to do record-breaking numbers again? Absolutely."

“One thing everybody plans for is to come forward and throw a lot of punches. They think it works, but it hasn’t worked in 19 years. If that’s his game plan, then we’ll just have to see how everything breaks down."

“Pacquiao would be a better fighter if he wasn’t so reckless. It’s a gift and a curse. He’s won a lot of fights by being reckless. But also being reckless can get you knocked out. Getting knocked out in a harsh way can affect you in the long run."

“People have criticized me for being a defensive fighter, but last night when I was at home sitting with my mother and my daughter, I thought to myself ‘I’m proud of myself.’  To be in a sport for 19 years, the main thing is I’m going to get out of the sport and still have a sharp mind."

“I don’t think one fight defines my career. All 47 fights played a major key. The bar is always set high for Floyd Mayweather. I think if we turn the table and if I had gotten knocked out by Marquez this fight would have never happened."

“I’m glad I was flashy and outspoken when I was younger. But I’m close to the big 4-0. I don’t have to bash anyone. I know what I can do."

“Today I was thinking about how thankful I am for my fans. I’m so thankful for my fans. Every day when I’m training at the gym, there’s 200 or 300 fans waiting out there for me."

“Saturday, before and after the fight, I will still be The Best Ever. One fight doesn’t define my career. The great thing about my career is that I’m a smart businessman. A 19-year career with no punishment on the body, that’s what we should talk about.”

Manny Pacquiao . . . 

“What we are doing in training is very good because we’re not focusing on one strategy. We’re working on two or three strategies. Either way, if he wants to fight me that’s good for me and if he wants to move around the ring I’m ready for that."

“I cannot say he is the most dangerous opponent of my career because I have not faced him. I have faced Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez and other great boxers."

“My confidence right now is different than any other fight I’ve had. I feel excited and  I have to prove something. I like being the underdog, because my killer instinct and my focus are there."

“I’m different than the first 47 he fought. I’m faster than them and I’m very confident for the fight. This is the moment that I believe he will experience a loss."

“I think we can win a decision. I always trust the commission, the judges and the officials. Our focus is not just on looking for a knockout but throwing a lot of punches in case it comes to a decision."

“I have not changed in my body in the last five years. I think the changes are that I have more experience now, better strategy and smarter movement. The speed and power has not changed."

“I believe this is the right time for us to be fighting. More people are informed for this fight than ever before. People who aren’t even boxing fans are interested in this fight."

Absurd Quote of the Week

Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, came up with this ridiculous piece of propaganda this week, putting in his two cents on how he believes the fight was finally made.

“The turning point for the fight being made was when Floyd Mayweather met Manny Pacquiao and looked him in his eyes and said ‘I want to fight you,’ ’’ said Ellerbe.

Now we don't know if Ellerbe was present when Mayweather allegedly said these words, presumably in Miami.

But even if he was, it is safe to assume that Pacquiao's agreement to a 60-40 split in the spirit of compromise probably had much more to do with getting the fight made.

Breaking camp 

After four rounds of sparring, working the mitts and a light workout, Pacquiao completed his final day of training camp at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood last week prior to his journey by luxury bus to Las Vegas.

With camp now in the rearview mirror, Freddie Roach paused to convey his thoughts on the fight.

“Our long international boxing nightmare will soon be over,” said Roach.  “Boxing has been held hostage by Floyd Mayweather and his antics long enough.  Manny is going to stand up to Floyd on May 2 and put a bully in his place.  On paper – and in the sports books – Manny shouldn’t stand a chance.  But neither did David against Goliath.  Just remember, Manny has always come out on top when he was the underdog and you don’t have to look any further than his victories over Ledwaba, Barrera and De La Hoya.  As Manny said earlier, ‘It is time for Floyd to lose.’  Manny is on a mission.  This fight is his crusade.  The fans of the world are rooting for Manny to win just like they willed this fight to happen.  He is their champion.  This will be their victory.”    

Twelve things you did not know about Mayweather

1.  Twizzlers are one of his go-to favorite snacks.
2. Ramen noodle soup is one of his favorite meals and he doesn't like 5 star restaurants.
3. Averages over 1000 sit-ups a day during training camp.
4. He doesn't use ketchup or mustard on hotdogs but uses BBQ sauce.
5. A guilty pleasure is playing Mega Touch and holding the highest scores in every game on there- his favorites are Spades, Dominos and word scrambles.
6. The movie Troy with Brad Pitt is one he likes to watch over and over again.
7. Every juice he drinks during training camp is made from scratch.
8. When out to eat, He always orders a glass of hot water to let his silverware soak in the glass before using them.
9. The tree trunks he has been using to chop wood are brought in from Big Bear and weigh nearly 700 pounds each.
10. He gets a manicure and pedicure at home once a week during training camp.
11. He doesn't use a microwave, only eats food cooked and heated up on a stove and in an oven.
12. His morning routine includes brushing teeth for 10 straight minutes.

Twelve things you did not know about Pacquiao

1 He eats steamed white rice and chicken or beef broth at almost every meal.
2. Manny will only drink hot or room temperature water.  Never cold water because he feels it is not healthy.
3. Manny averages over 2,500 sit-ups daily during training camp.
4. Manny eats five meals and consumes 8,000 calories daily to keep his weight and energy up.
5. Manny regularly has 500 fans follow him on his morning runs in Los Angeles.
6. He starts every morning with a Bible reading.
7. He loves his Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups.
8. Over the past 12 months Manny has met with President Obama, President Clinton and Prince Harry.
9. Pacman, Manny’s nine-year-old Jack Russell terrier and beloved companion, accompanies Manny on all his morning runs and to his workouts at Wild Card.  He even has his own frequent flier account.
10. Manny is a Lt. Colonel in the reserve force of Philippine Army.
11. Floyd Mayweather will be the third consecutive undefeated world champion Manny has faced in the past 13 months.
12. Manny is a big photography buff.  This week he purchased two Canon flagship cameras – the 1DX -- complete with lenses and accessories.

How will Mayweather-Pacquiao be remembered?

The International Boxing Hall of Fame has inducted 23 fighters who were, at one time or another, welterweight champions.

The “gold standard” to which all welterweights aspire remains the late, great Sugar Ray Robinson.  Robinson was 85-0 as an amateur before turning pro at 19 in 1940. By 1951, he was 128-1-2 with 84 knockout victories.

Although he is also remembered for winning the middleweight title five times, Robinson never lost as a welterweight, winning so often and so emphatically that the legendary trainer, Eddie Futch, was moved to observe that, “He had everything. Boxing skills, punching power, a great chin, mental strength. There was nothing he couldn’t do.”

In addition to Robinson, those whose plaques grace the hallowed hall include Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, Carmen Basilio, Henry Armstrong, Emile Griffith, Pipino Cuevas, Jose Napoles, Curtis Cokes, Barney Ross, Kid Gavilan, Wilfred Benitez, Luis Rodriguez, Mickey Walker, Fritzie Zivic, Jack Britton, Jackie Fields, Ted “Kid” Lewis, and “Mysterious” Billy Smith.

Mayweather and Pacquiao are of course assured of joining their ranks as soon as they become eligible to go onto the ballot.

The DSH tackled the subject of ranking the all-time welterweights back in 2009, although things have changed a bit since that article was written.

The lead-up to Mayweather-Pacquiao has generated no shortage of comparisons to past welterweight clashes that are notable for the classic nature of those bouts, the widespread public interest attendant to them, or both.

Is Mayweather vs. Pacquiao more likely to be a repeat of, say, Leonard-Duran I, which Duran won on a rousing unanimous decision on June 25, 1980, in Montreal?

The epic Leonard-Hearns I, on Sept. 16, 1981, which saw Leonard, trailing on the scorecards, rally for a dramatic, 14th-round TKO at Caesars Palace?

Trinidad’s controversial majority decision over De La Hoya in their Sept. 18, 1999, unification showdown at the Mandalay Bay?

The DSH also ranked the Top 5 welterweight bouts back in 2010, and no matter how tonight's fight plays out, if at can be anywhere near the quality of the fights on that list, it will be worth the wait.

The Undercard Matchups

Overlooked in all the fight hype has been the undercard bouts.

The pay-per-view undercard features two of boxing’s most talented rising stars as WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) faces Mexican brawler Jose Cayetano (17-3, 8 KOs), and WBO Featherweight World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (3-1, 1 KO) takes on Puerto Rican contender Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KOs).

"Each undercard match could be a main event on another card,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. “Fans can watch the exciting action as a warm-up to the most anticipated fight in decades."

As previously announced, local 26-year-old Santa Cruz will be making his second appearance on a Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view undercard. The volume-punching Santa Cruz won his first world title in 2012. In 2013, he won his super bantamweight title.

Arguably the greatest amateur boxer of all-time, with two Olympic gold medals and two Amateur National Championships, 27-year-old Lomachenko has already made a great impact in the professional ranks.

He won his world title with a majority decision over Gary Russell Jr. last year. Making the second defense of his 126-pound title, he will be going for his third straight win overall when he battles Rodriguez.

For the few who have tickets, exciting non-televised bouts round out the action in the arena as top undefeated prospects look to keep their perfect records intact.

The slick and undefeated Chris Pearson (11-0, 9 KOs) meets Said El Harrak (12-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight bout and heavy-fisted Jesse Hart (16-0, 13 KOs) takes on fellow unbeaten Mike Jimenez (17-0, 11 KOs) in a 10-rounder or the NABO, USBA and NABF Super Middleweight titles.

An undefeated knockout artist looking to make it 10-for-10, Andrew Tabiti (9-0, 9 KOs) faces Anthony Caputo Smith (15-4, 10 KOs) in an eight- rounds cruiserweight match.

Kicking off the night of fights is undefeated contender Brad Solomon (24-0, 9 KOs), who’ll be opposed by Adrian Rene Granados (13-3, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight bout.

“Mayweather Promotions is looking forward to bringing some of boxing’s most exciting current and future stars to the fans on the biggest night in our sport’s history,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Whether you are watching on pay-per-view or in the arena, you are in store for an electric night of fights.”

Andre Ward returns to the ring June 20

In other boxing news not involving Mayweather or Pacquiao, the man many consider to be the pound-for-pound number two fighter in the world, Andre Ward, will be returning to action on June 20.

BET Networks has announced that it is stepping into the ring with Roc Nation Sports as their exclusive broadcast partner to air live boxing events on the network with the first main event fight to feature WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Ward (27-0, 14 KO’s) facing former Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KO’s) of England in a 12-round bout on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

“I’m very excited to be coming back on June 20 at Oracle Arena in my hometown of Oakland which has been a long time coming,” said Ward. “I’m equally excited to be fighting on BET in front of a potential viewership of over 90 million homes. As a fighter, this diversifies my portfolio and puts me in front of a whole different audience. I have an extremely tough fighter in front of me in Paul Smith who’s looking to pull the upset, but I can’t let that happen. I have to be on my best game to turn Smith away and beat him the way I want to beat him. As always, I’m ready to put on a tremendous performance in front of my hometown fans and those watching on BET. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.”

Ward’s skill and talent were apparent early in his outstanding amateur career, as he earned a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. He turned professional on December 18, 2004, scoring a second round technical knockout victory over Chris Molina at Staples Center in a fight that was televised live on HBO.

He has gone on to rack up 26 more victories since then, building an ever-growing legion of fans in the process. After becoming the Ring Magazine and WBA Super Middleweight World Champion, rising to the number two spot on the pound-for-pound list and winning the 2011 Fighter of the Year Award (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America), it was announced that Ward signed an exclusive promotional agreement with Roc Nation Sports in January 2015, opening a new chapter in his storied boxing career.

Paul Smith enters his fight against pound-for-pound star Ward coming off of two tough performances against WBO Super Middleweight World Champion Arthur Abraham.

“I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward. I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Arthur Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing,” said Smith. “Andre is a top pound-for-pound fighter and someone I respect a lot, but he has only boxed once in almost three years and I will give it everything I have got. I am fresh and confident going into this fight. It’s a massive opportunity for me and one that I took with both hands when it was offered. I have spent a lot of time boxing in the United States and I look forward to returning for this fight.”

Final Thoughts on Mayweather-Pacquiao

Tonight should be a classic contrast between an aggressive southpaw boxer-puncher and a master orthodox defensive counterpuncher.

Mayweather is susceptible to straight shots down the middle, whether it's from a left jab ala Oscar De La Hoya, or a straight left power shot from a southpaw -- a blow which happens to be Pacquiao's best punch.

For Pacquiao to win, his handspeed and footwork must be at peak form, and his activity rate must be high.  He must set the tone and get off first in the exchanges, throwing his trademark combinations and then dancing out of harm's way.

Ultimately, it will be his straight left that brings him the victory.

For Mayweather, he needs to establish his right hand early.  By connecting with his speedy right hand leads in the opening rounds, Pacquiao's punch volume will naturally decrease because he will be tentative to throw out of fear of getting countered.

Once Pacman's punch volume goes down, Floyd can cruise and potshot his way to a win.

No predictions here on the fight's outcome tonight, we are simply grateful that it's actually happening.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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