Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will square off in the biggest boxing match of the decade on May 2.
Mayweather, despite being two years older than Pacquaio, at 38, enters the fight as the favorite to win.
In a profile by Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop, Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach described how Pacquiao can pull off an upset.
Mayweather is widely regarded as one of the best defensive fighters ever. Roach says that while most boxers hate to be backed into the ropes, Mayweather uses it to his advantage. He purposely falls back, waiting for his opponents to follow him, where Mayweather can then set up a counterattack. Roach says Pacquaio can exploit this:
"If you jab or feint him, and he steps back, you have a huge advantage to score. But you have to score, and you have to get out really quickly. Mayweather will throw back. But he won’t counter until you stop. Some fighters will just keep throwing at him. My fighter shouldn’t. In and out. Clean combinations."
Roach also thinks that Pacquiao's left-handedness could be a strategic advantage over Mayweather.
Mayweather's signature shoulder roll, where he guards his body with his left arm, deflects punches with his left shoulder, and counters with his right hand, can be exploited by a southpaw like Pacquaio, Roach says.
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Because a southpaw, if he gets close enough, can tag Mayweather in that left shoulder with a straight left, or a series of them. The angle is better. Theoretically, anyway. "He’s rolling right into a southpaw’s power," Roach says. "That’s a huge advantage for us."
Roach, who trained Oscar De La Hoya for his match against Mayweather (which De La Hoya lost), says De La Hoya didn't move to Mayweather's left like he should have, instead getting baited to follow Mayweather straight back. He wants Pacquiao to move more side to side, specifically to Mayweather's left, on Saturday.
De La Hoya echoed a similar notion about Pacquiao's left-handedness to Wall Street Journal's Gordon Marino:
"Mayweather has never fought a lefty who moves in and out, side to side like Pacquiao," De La Hoya said. "Pacquiao’s footwork is the key. Also, he has to make Mayweather open up and engage, then punch when Mayweather is punching."
De La Hoya recommends jabbing over Mayweather’s defensive guard. "And bring that great left of his down the middle."
The boxing world seems to be in agreement about how Pacquaio can beat Mayweather. Doing it is another story.
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