Word out of Vegas continues to be Ariza’s relative success at growing Mayweather’s overall strength and agility in a boxing-consistent manner. The fear has been, amongst Mayweather insiders and observers, that Ariza’s training protocol might slow down the self-styled best-ever and negatively impact his in-ring speed. Those observing Money workout and spar note that, if anything, he appears to be developing surprising power while retaining his unparalleled timing, agility and speed.
This cannot be seen as a good thing by a Pacquiao camp that has and continues to encourage Mayweather to go ahead and lift those weights and otherwise engage in a training protocol that adds not just strength but bulk to a smallish frame dependent upon speed and movement. As it turns out, Money May is apparently retaining speed while getting stronger, but more importantly, is growing sharper and more fluid and agile with each passing day. As hard as it might be for Ariza-haters’ to stomach much less admit, Mayweather is being scientifically crafted into the type of fighter that, at least on paper, could give Pacquiao fits.
Freddie Roach continues to claim, as does the journalist corps covering the fight that an objective, unbiased assessment of Mayweather’s recent fights indicates that he has lost a bit of not only his speed but his core and leg-based agility. There is an axiom in boxing that the first thing to go for an aging fighter is his legs, both in terms of raw strength and the ability to bounce around and move from side-to-side. Reports from deep within the camp contradict this assessment suggesting that whatever it is that Ariza and the training team are doing with Mayweather, it is actually paying huge dividends.
Mayweather developing surprising power while retaining agility and speed, as it turns out, is a critical piece of information as those who know the respective fight styles of Mayweather and Pacquiao best will argue that in order for Mayweather to beat Pacquiao he needs to be not only fast but able to utilize his legs in such a fashion as to keep himself out of harm’s way. It is critical that he retain the ability to pop in-and-out and to shuffle backwards then quickly from-side-to-side in order to take advantage of Pac’s tendency to bounce in-and-out. If indeed Money’s legs are shot and he has lost a beat in his reaction time both with the pot-shot counter punch and his perfectly executed check hook, then Pac can be in-and-out before Mayweather can respond effectively.
The truth appears to be, according to insiders and raw footage of recent sparring sessions, that the self-styled best-ever’s training team is on course to not only retain foot and hand speed but also the counter-punch timing Money is famous for. From a historical standpoint, fighters of Mayweather’s stature and experience will wax philosophic about the quality of foresight and anticipation that comes from long years in the ring. Money’s ability to anticipate then execute an offensive-array of punches-in-bunches when an opponent is overly committed is unparalleled in contemporary boxing. He himself has noted that he is able to see in his mind where an opponent is going, what punch he is preparing to throw as well as the in-the-moment plan of attack executed by an opponent just before it is executed. This is a quality Mayweather has not only retained, but appears to have accentuated in just the short time camp has been in session.
While Mayweather continues to be the odds-on-favorite to win the fight heavy Pacquiao money continues to pour in. Conventional wisdom is that as the fight draws near the odds will narrow to almost even odds. With the latest news that Mayweather is developing surprising power while retaining the type of agility and speed needed to counter Pacquiao’s admirable and dangerous skill set, all bets could be off. Pacquiao however remains self-assured, vigilant and dedicated to winning but, as Roach himself suggested, in order for Pac to win, he has to fight his best fight and Money May’s legs and overall skill set need to be slightly diminished. Recent news out of Vegas appears to put this hope at risk.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: Carol Flickr License