Manny Pacquiao confident ahead of Mayweather fight but refuses to talk trash

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

The word for years among those who know Manny Pacquiao is that he didn't particularly care much for Floyd Mayweather as a person, but Pacquiao was always far too courteous and circumspect to ever say anything derogatory about his biggest rival.

Pacquiao will fight Mayweather on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas in a bout that will generate close to $300 million in gross revenue as the richest fight in the sport's history.

In a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports on Monday, Pacquiao praised Mayweather's abilities as a fighter, but predicted he would be victorious.

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He credited CBS Corp. chairman Leslie Moonves and HBO CEO Richard Plepler for being the driving forces behind getting the massive deal completed.

And he said he loves Alex Ariza, his former strength and conditioning coach who has since defected to Mayweather and has been critical of his performance.

The one thing he didn't want to do, though, was speak about Mayweather personally.

Manny Pacquiao has held world championships belts in a eight divisions (AFP)
Manny Pacquiao has held world championships belts in a eight divisions (AFP)

Though they fought on the same card on Nov. 10, 2001, they never spoke face-to-face until Jan. 27, when they met at an NBA game in Miami and later when Mayweather visited Pacquiao in his hotel room.

Several people involved in putting the fight together, including Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz, have credited that meeting with the fight being made.

Pacquiao didn't want to discuss the meeting, preferring instead to praise Moonves and Plepler for their work in hammering out the deal.

When specifically asked about his impressions of Mayweather outside the ring, Pacquiao sharply declined.

"I don't want to talk about that," Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao quickly rebuffed a second attempt to get his impression of the flamboyant pound-for-pound champion. He was willing to talk about the fight, but not about Mayweather himself.

"I don't have anything to say about him right now," Pacquiao said. "I'm not talking about him."

Read into that what you wish.

Pacquiao arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday from the Philippines to formally begin his training camp, though he'd been working out at home for several weeks.

His long-time trainer, Freddie Roach, left Los Angeles last week to fly to Macau, China, to train Zou Shiming, the three-time Chinese Olympian and two-time gold medalist, in a bout at Cotai Arena for the IBF flyweight title fight Saturday against Amnat Ruenroeng.

Pacquiao's career took off when he hooked up with Roach in 2001, and it would make sense he'd want Roach by his side at all times as he prepared for one of the most significant fights in boxing history.

Roach was going to send his assistant, Marvin Somodio, to Macau to corner Shiming, but Pacquiao urged Roach to go work with Shiming. Roach said Pacquiao told him that Shiming fights better with him in the corner and that he should go.

So Roach is now in Macau and Pacquiao is working out at his Wild Card boxing club with Justin Fortune heading his conditioning and Somodio and Buboy Fernandez handling the boxing coaching until Roach returns.

"I have Buboy with me and Freddie will be back in plenty of time," Pacquiao said. "I'm OK. I can get my work done."

Manny Pacquiao throws at punch at Chris Algieri in his last fight in November. (AFP)
Manny Pacquiao throws at punch at Chris Algieri in his last fight in November. (AFP)

Part of his work will involve an extraordinary amount of media obligations. World-wide interest in the fight is intense and a small army of several thousand media will descend upon Las Vegas to cover the fight.

The two will appear together only once until fight week, when they have a kickoff news conference in Los Angeles on March 11.

Pacquiao is a veteran who has been through the media blitz for most of his adult life, so that shouldn't impact him. And he's extraordinarily confident despite being better than a 2-to-1 underdog against the 47-0 Mayweather.

"He has very good speed and footwork, and he has punches, and that makes him look good," Pacquiao said. "But it depends on the fighter he is going to fight. For me as a boxer, I know what the job is. I'm going to throw a lot of punches, a lot of hard punches.

"There is nobody out there who really has thrown a lot of punches at him, but I'm going to do that. He is a very good boxer, but I know how to box and I can move side to side and throw punches."

The build-up to the fight will be difficult because of the demands and the intense world-wide interest. But for Pacquiao, it will be a breeze compared to the last five years trying to get the fight made.

He was criticized in 2012 when he summarily rejected a much-publicized Mayweather offer of $40 million with no pay-per-view revenues. But it turns out he made the right choice, because he'll make much more than that in the May 2 bout.

But just like Mayweather did in a Feb. 20 interview with Yahoo Sports, Pacquiao said he always believed the fight would happen.

"It was difficult to go through that experience," he said of the extraordinarily long and drawn-out talks. "It was not easy. People were asking me everywhere I went when I would fight this guy. My [children] asked me; everyone did. I was always ready to fight, but it didn't happen.

"I never lost hope since the beginning. All these years, it was hard, but I believed God would deliver what the people wanted. God is good and I believed He would give the people this fight."

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