Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, claims Floyd Mayweather is a shot fighter. Is he?
Moreover, he says Pacquiao would fight Mayweather at any weight, even 154 pounds.
Let’s face it: Roach knows a lot more about boxing than you and me. Roach is one of the top trainers in the world.
He’s been named Trainer of the Year five times by the Boxing Writers Association of America and is the chief architect of Pacquiao’s exceptional career, one that has seen the Filipino superstar capture world titles in eight different weight classes.
But does anyone other than Roach believe Mayweather is a shot fighter? Perhaps more importantly, has there been any real indication that Mayweather isn’t as great at his craft as ever?
Mayweather’s last two bouts were against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Marcos Maidana. In September 2013, Mayweather defeated Alvarez over 12 rounds to become the Transnational, Ring Magazine, WBA and WBA junior middleweight champion.
Alvarez had no answer for Mayweather. While most experts expected the naturally larger Mexican to press Mayweather against the ropes and throw hard shots at him from in close, the 23-year-old instead tried to box Mayweather from a distance.
It didn’t work.
Against Maidana last May, Mayweather found himself in a much tougher fight. Mayweather defeated Maidana by majority decision to unify the WBA and WBC welterweight titles.
Maidana threw the kitchen sink at Mayweather. His kamikaze style, something akin to volume power punching, made Mayweather work harder than ever.
In fact, according to CompuBox (h/t MLive.com), no one has hit Mayweather with more punches in a fight than Maidana did that night.
But here’s the thing: It also didn’t work.
Still, Roach is confident he sees flaws in the 37-year-old Mayweather’s game, flaws he believes Pacquiao would be able to exploit, should the two meet in the ring next year.
Roach told BoxingScene.com’s Rick Reeno that Pacquiao wouldn’t just defeat Mayweather, but knock him out:
I think Mayweather is shot, his legs are gone and Manny will knock him out. If he wants to get knocked out - sign the contract. He says he's sitting down [and not moving as often] to please the crowd. he don't care about pleasing no crowd, I don't think. He just can't move no more. His legs are shot. He's done.
Does Roach have a point?
Mayweather didn’t have to move in the Alvarez fight. The pride of Mexico didn’t give him any reason to do so. All Mayweather needed to do was outbox Alvarez from a distance, and that was easy for a fighter as skilled as Mayweather against one as green as Alvarez.
But Maidana gave Mayweather every reason to not stay in one place, and he did so anyway. Host of HBO boxing telecasts Jim Lampley told me Maidana’s reckless aggression gave Mayweather fits:
An extremely determined Marcos Maidana was throwing wild punches from all angles, and the punches he gave Floyd trouble with particularly were the right hand that was coming way over the top and the uppercuts that were coming from down under. And Floyd can handle everything that is right in front of him. But sometimes you just don’t see that other stuff.
Like Roach, I wondered if Mayweather’s close fight against Maidana, a good fighter but nowhere near elite, was any indication he was beginning to slide.
Lampley shut me down on it.
No, because his hands were still tremendously fast, and he landed with great accuracy when he threw. As the fight progressed, he gained more and more control of the situation because he got a clearer picture in his head as to what was going on. He just got jumped in the first round by a guy who threw three times as many punches as he was throwing from all sorts of angles…it almost doesn’t even matter if they’re landing, your eye is on them.
Still, Roach has a good history of putting his fighter in against great fighters at the right time and knowing beforehand which ones are shot.
Most recently, he was certain Miguel Cotto would knock out aging middleweight champion Sergio Martinez when almost no one else in the world thought he would.
Roach told Marcos Villegas that very thing before the fight in an interview posted on YouTube.
Cotto knocked Martinez down three times in the first round and out by Round 10 to become middleweight champion of the world.
So while it seems ludicrous at first glance to believe Mayweather is a shot fighter, one whose better days are far behind him, you might consider lending a bit more credence to the idea than you might otherwise because of who is saying it.
Roach isn’t always right. But he’s not always wrong, either.
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