LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Superior hand speed will give Manny Pacquiao a decisive edge over American Floyd Mayweather in their heavily anticipated megafight in Las Vegas next week, says the Filipino southpaw’s trainer Freddie Roach.
Mayweather will go into the May 2 welterweight showdown as the favorite in his bid to improve on a perfect 47-0 record as a professional, but Roach is confident that underdog Pacquiao will emerge triumphant on points after the 12 scheduled rounds.
“I know he (Mayweather) is a good fighter but I just think I have the better fighter,” Roach told Reuters before overseeing a shadow boxing session by Pacquiao at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California.
“Hand speed is going to be a big, big difference in this fight and Manny is much quicker than he is.”
Roach, who has guided Pacquiao to world championships in eight weight divisions and a 57-5-2 career record with 38 knockouts, said that he had no concerns about the threat posed by 11-time world champion Mayweather.
“I don’t think he can really hurt Manny so I am not worried about that so much,” smiled the shrewd Roach, a former featherweight and lightweight boxer who ended his own career in the ring at the age of 26 with a decent 41-13 record.
“Mayweather has a good right hand but I don’t think he can knock Manny out with that right hand. I don’t think he can move like he used to because his legs aren’t what they were, and that’s the first thing to go in a fighter.”
Roach, who has often been remarkably accurate with his pre-fight predictions, expects the May 2 bout to last the full 12 rounds.
”It’s going to start quick,“ said the bespectacled trainer who has worked with 31 world champions in his Wild Card gym. ”We’re going to be warmed up and ready to go.
“What I want Manny to do is outscore him and land combinations, get out of the pocket and make him miss. If we can consistently do that, we will win the fight on a decision. I think it will go the distance.”
Mayweather, 38, is known for his brilliant defense and astute ring management while Pacquiao, 36, is renowned for his aggressive style and lightning-fast speed, setting up an intriguing match-up of contrasting styles.
While many pundits regret that the two fighters are in the twilight of their respective careers and have lost some of their skills, Roach believes that now is the ideal time to stage a long awaited bout that was more than five years in the making.
“Everyone gets older and slows down a little bit but five years ago Floyd would run (around the ring) all night and we would all fall asleep,” said the 55-year-old trainer.
”This is going to be a much better fight, I feel, because his (Mayweather‘s) legs aren’t what they used to be. He has to take breaks and he does rest on the ropes at times.
“And if you rest on the ropes with Manny Pacquiao, you will be in a lot of trouble.”
Pacquiao’s motivation for the May 2 fight in Vegas could not be any higher, according to Roach.
”Manny has really raised the bar in this training camp,“ said Roach. ”He’s a different Manny Pacquiao than I have seen going into previous training camps. I’ve never seen him work this hard.
“He’s faster than ever and he’s definitely hitting harder than ever. 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. I‘m really happy where he’s at.”
Editing by Steve Keating