Final pre-fight notes for the imminent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight include ongoing Ariza fallout issues as problems with Money May’s hands persist. Consistent with same, in an unusual twist, Team Mayweather appears unusually sober and sedate, less given to the high rhetoric and bombast characterizing past engagements.
As reported earlier in training camp, because of the fight blue-print conjured up by Team Mayweather including new-to-camp Alex Ariza, the determination was made to try to surprise Pacquiao with an initial display of fire-power. This initial strategy required a change in training from the traditional boxing regimen, including heavy bag, speed bag, mitts, shadow boxing, rope jumping, as well as calisthenics and sparring to including muscle and power-building exercises and routines.
When Ariza was initially brought in to camp by Floyd Jr. there was an initial opposition, soft as it was, by Floyd Sr., and others who felt that “if something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.” Ariza was initially brought into camp by Money May as a PR ploy to unnerve the Pacquiao camp hoping that they would see Ariza as a former insider ready to spill whatever beans there might be to spill.
As it turned out, when Ariza appeared at Mayweather’s Maidana 2 fight camp he told the self-styled best-ever that he was indeed privy to a quality of information about Pacman that could help him, in the event he contracted to fight Pac, win the fight. Once the MayPac fight was made and Ariza made his appearance, much to Papa Floyd’s chagrin, Ariza had Floyd Jr’s ear. Senior’s latest outburst about the very minimal, if at all existent, role played by Ariza is the first real public display of a behind the scenes acrimony between the two that started from day one.
Floyd Sr., initially and on an ongoing basis, took issue with not only Ariza’s presence in camp but with the conditioning expert’s seeming willingness to interject himself in subject matter and areas the lead trainer felt he had no business or experience delving into. This of course sounds eerily reminiscent of the reason Freddie Roach fired Ariza then later the rationale assumed for Ariza’s termination at the hands of Robert Garcia. It would appear that wherever Ariza goes, he appears to want to interject himself and take a measure of control. The power-paradigms that be then take umbrage and the fallout ensues.
This is where the persistent hand problem issue becomes a little more complex. Based partially upon Ariza’s initial recommendations and assessment of the contrasting fight styles Floyd Jr., and other training operatives decided to change the training regimen and go “old school.” In boxing circles this means simply going back to the more rugged and challenging training camps of fighters from bygone eras of which chopping wood is an example. The practical effect of the old school approach is not only, in the ideal, toughening up the fighter, but creating both endurance and power.
The original plan, as simple in its conjecture as it is difficult in its execution, appears to have not only laid the groundwork for the problems with Mayweather’s hands that now persist, but continue to inform both the ongoing Ariza fallout and current Team worry about a proper Mayweather-Pacquiao fight outcome. Indeed, the original plan was for Mayweather to come out with guns-blazing, surprising Pac, and, like Marquez, stun Pac with a series of power-shots designed to put Pac on his heels. Ariza and other elements in camp were convinced that in getting Pacquiao on his heels early it would effectively take away his greatest strengths; forward momentum together with blazing shots from incredible angles. All of these strengths, it was hoped, would dissipate with Money’s early fusillade of power-punches calculated to control the tone, tenor and trajectory of the fight.
As it turned out, Ariza proved his worth in camp as very skill-full and knowledgeable along the way. That notwithstanding, the problem with the approach, one that elements within the camp appear ready to concede, is that somewhere along the way, Mayweather’s fragile hands became unduly sore and fear set in that he would break them with the ongoing power-punching oriented training regimen. It was at this point that the final blue-print for the fight settled in. Namely, with Mayweather newly poised to time Pac’s punches and general rhythm for a round or two then, sit back and use Pacquiao’s forward and sometimes frenetic energy against him with well placed and timed pot-shots in the form of right-hand leads, left check-hooks and surprising uppercuts from deep underneath.
The latest row about Roach not getting access to Mayweather’s gloves for inspection prior to the fight have everything to do with an attempt on the part of Mayweather to forge a glove that is likely to sustain Mayweather’s hands through a tough and grueling twelve round fight. One that will see him, of necessity, throw power-bomb-after-bomb but in limited, well-timed and strategic moments. This, as it turns out, with persistent hand problems, is very much different than the initial plan to open up rather early and sustain a power attack over the long-haul.
The coming fight has all the earmarks of a chess match informed by sporadic and very brutal hand-to-hand, trench warfare-like exchanges that may well leave one or the other hitting the canvas multiple times. As Mayweather and Pacquiao go through their final motions, as the Ariza fallout seems to fester and Money May’s problems with his hands persist creating an unusually somber Mayweather pre-fight tone, one thing remains sure. That is, both combatants have come to win and will do whatever it takes to come out victorious. It should be a long and brutal fight for the ages.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows