Chris Farina - Top Rank
Friday, April 17, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Manny Pacquiao arrived last month in Los Angeles to prepare for his superfight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. with a clear vision of the strategy he wanted to implement.
Much to the surprise of his famed trainer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao took time out of his busy schedule in his native Philippines — which includes careers as a congressman, a singer and a basketball coach/player — to study video of Mayweather’s past fights.
“Manny has never watched tape on any fighter before,” Roach said at Pacquiao’s open media workout Wednesday at his Wild Card Gym.
That’s likely because he’s never been in a fight quite like this. Mayweather shied away from overemphasizing the stature of the May 2 bout versus Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena during his own media session earlier in the week.
But Pacquiao has accepted the hype that’s turned the matchup into the fight of the century.
“I can say that beating Floyd would be the biggest victory of my career,” Pacquiao said.
It’s not just Roach who’s noticed changes in the 36-year-old Pacquiao. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, has spent most of his time away from his company’s home offices in Las Vegas the past couple weeks.
He just can’t pull himself away from monitoring his fighter given the daily spectacle he’s watching.
“I would say Manny is more motivated for this fight than any other fight I’ve seen him prepare for,” said Pacquiao’s promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
Pacquiao’s temperament is unlike any Roach has seen in their 14-year partnership. The differences go far beyond the film study.
Roach was relieved when Pacquiao was receptive to the idea of clearing the gym of everyone except essential personnel, another difference from Mayweather’s camp, for the first time. He’s also been struck by Pacquiao’s intensity in their daily sessions.
“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,” Roach said.
Everything’s added up to make for a foolproof plan, according to Roach. He said they had a “great idea” of what Mayweather will try to do and how to exploit it.
Pacquiao’s camp acknowledges Mayweather as one of the greatest defensive fighters in boxing history, but believes he’s more uncomfortable against left-handers like Pacquiao.
“A lot of his defense is geared against a right-handed fighter,” Arum said. “With that said, I think Manny is going to surprise a lot of people with how he’s going to be able to reach Floyd.”
Mayweather has faced eight opponents who fight out of a southpaw stance, and sure enough, struggled with several of them early in his career. His two most recent lefty foes, Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz, provided less of a challenge though.
But Pacquiao is different, especially this time around. He changed his approach from the moment camp began.
“Manny showed me a tape of Floyd fighting a southpaw and told me, ‘That is exactly what we are going to do in this fight,’” Roach recalled.