Reports out of the Mayweather camp this week should sound an encouraging note for Pacquiao and his legion of fans. What was originally intended to send a shiver of fear through the Pacquiao camp is actually having the opposite effect. In fact, amongst the training team assembled at Roach’s Wild Card Gym, instead of concern, there is hope-against-hope that the Mayweather that shows up at the MGM Grand come May 2 will be the Mayweather reports are suggesting is in the works. Namely, an unusually focused Mayweather, set to punish and physically destroy Pacman.
Indeed, by all accounts, Money May appears to be a newly aggressive fighter possessed of a kill-or-be-killed mindset. His thinking patterns are informed by genuinely bad intentions seasoned by a willingness to train for the rigors that naturally entail in toe-to-toe and hand-to-hand combat. Nothing would please the Pacquiao camp more than a Mayweather less inclined to defend his way to a decision win than one ready to rumble and blast his way to victory.
With reliably sourced news that Mayweather knocked out one of his sparring partners with a body shot boxing fans took notice. While this is a regular occurrence in gyms across the world it is not a regular occurrence in a Mayweather sparring session. In the aftermath of the knockout reports continue to paint a picture of a new and unusually focused Mayweather getting down to business. When Mayweather showed up for camp this past week he was in no mood for formalities, fan-friendly niceties or in simply going through the motions.
The self-styled best ever has in-fact, from day-one, demonstrated a quality of focus and determination that, even by Money May’s unusually high standards, immediately set this camp apart from any in recent memory. What is going on in Mayweather’s gym is serious business. So serious in fact that it is taking on the feel of secrecy, reminiscent of what is going on in the Wild Card Gym. Both camps are severely restricting access to gym and training goings’ on.
For the boxing neophyte and curious onlooker an unusually focused Mayweather, set to destroy Pacman, is a fearful sight indeed. For boxing initiates and the well tenured Pacquiao fan however, the news is sweet indeed. A sober-minded Mayweather, feeling his oats, is the fighter Roach dreams of every night. Like a kid in a candy store, Pacquiao will find a range of strategies to employ to break down and end Money May’s aggression.
Mike Tyson recently offered up a surprisingly scientific explanation as to why the shoulder roll and pot-shotting approach cannot work against Pacquiao’s style. He pointed out that Mayweather’s shoulder roll, would of necessity, because of its inherent weakness against Pacquiao’s style, over the course of the fight, morph into a stand-and-fight-or-be-crushed approach that will work into Pacquiao’s hands.
In effect, because of the styles involved, the shoulder roll/philly-shell and pot-shotting strategy normally employed to perfection by Mayweather is exactly the wrong strategy to employ against Pacquiao’s unorthodox, left-handed, in-and-out, herky-jerky approach. If or rather when Money gets into his shell he will soon find out that he is vulnerable to a piston-like right jab and prone to getting pounded from the side he is not currently defending. The shell, by definition, is narrow and limited in its ability to defend both scoring sides while at the same time, mounting an appreciable offense.
As Money May attempts to adjust the shell from one side to the next, he will discover that regardless of what he does with his version of the shell he will be hit by punches in bunches. Adrien Broner, a very poor man’s version of Money May, demonstrated the glaring weakness of the shoulder roll style in his defeat at the hands of Marcos Maidana. Maidana was not able to duplicate his success against Mayweather because of his slowness of foot and fist as well as his tendency to telegraph and overload his punches. Pacquiao is beset with none of these limitations.
In the end, from a strictly scientific standpoint, Mayweather’s orthodox shoulder roll has no chance of success given the unorthodox skill-set Pacquiao enters the ring with. The only proper adjustment Money May can and will make is the more orthodox stand-and fight style he is either currently preparing for or will devolve into mid-fight. Whether he enters the ring with the newly reported aggressive style or falls back into the shoulder roll, Pacquiao will pounce, throwing power punches from every conceivable angle. The speed with which these punches will come and the velocity with which they will be delivered will not allow Mayweather to get comfortable fighting in either his native style or a newly adopted aggressive one, and, as Tyson suggests, it could end poorly for Mayweather.
Some are suggesting that Mayweather can simply get on his bike and dance like one of his heroes Muhammad Ali. Roach dismisses this possibility suggesting that Mayweather’s legs, while not entirely shot, will not be able to carry him for twelve rounds of the movement Pacquiao’s non-stop aggression will force him into. Or, as Pacquiao exclaims, Mayweather “can run but he can’t hide.”
Come May 2, regardless of what Mayweather iteration shows up, the unusually focused one set to destroy Pacman or the traditionally passive defensive-minded one, the science informing the proceedings will demonstrate that whether Money stands and attempts to fight Pacman, or tries to run away and pot shot, he will not be-able to keep away from the punishment that, like a tsunami, will roll over him in waves. While there is yet no rematch clause, expect a rematch demand from a Mayweather camp who will be keen for September redemption.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: hansol Flickr License