One of the ways you can always tell that a big fight is near is when the stories about the tremendous fears in sparring begin to surface.
And sure enough, we're hearing about all the damage that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are doing already in the gym as they get ready for their mega-bout on May 2 in Las Vegas. They'll meet the media on Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles, their only face-to-face appearance until fight week.
That, of course, means it's time for the stories to leak out about what is going on behind the closed doors. Both men have been tighter than normal in allowing access and not nearly as many people are allowed in to watch sparring as is usually the case.
A CBS Sports report quoted Las Vegas-based photographer Chris Robinson about Mayweather's sparring escapades. Mayweather reportedly knocked out one sparring partner and dropped another, according to the CBS Sports account from Robinson.
Floyd's doing his thing. He dropped one of the guys with a body shot.
As for Pacquiao, lead trainer Freddie Roach told Ring.com how impressed he was by Pacquiao's speed and power in the early stages of camp. Roach also told the site that it is clear to him that Pacquiao had been watching film of Mayweather.
Robinson, whose website HustleBoss.com has photos he's taken over the years at the Mayweather Boxing Club, is a reliable witness. But don't make too much out of the reports.
For starters, Mayweather has one knockout in the last six years, and that came when Victor Ortiz had his hands at his side and wasn't ready. Mayweather hit him with a clean one-two and knocked him out. He's got two stoppages in his past 12 fights, given that he stopped Ricky Hatton in 2007. Going into the Hatton fight, Mayweather's knockout percentage was 68.6 (24 knockouts in 35 fights). Now, going into the Pacquiao fight, it is 55.3 percent (26 knockouts in 47 fights).
Mayweather is notoriously tough on sparring partners, and so it wouldn't be a shock if he did indeed knock a sparring partner down and/or out. But Mayweather is a boxer extraordinaire, not a puncher, and it's highly unlikely he'll stop Pacquiao.
Pacquiao hasn't had a stoppage in his last nine fights. He stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in 2009, then has gone the distance with, in ascending order, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios, Bradley again and Chris Algieri. He was knocked out himself by Marquez between the first Bradley fight and the Rios match.
Pretty much every Pacquiao fight over the last five years, Roach has vowed that Pacquiao would get the mean streak back and resume his KO-ing ways. And afterward, Roach often blames Pacquiao's compassionate side for letting opponents off the hook.
The point is to not get too worked up by the reports. It's urban legend, more or less, and just another way of hyping a fight that, quite frankly, needs very little hype.