By Daniel Hicks
MACAU (AFP) – Manny Pacquiao would “overwhelm” unbeaten WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather with his lightning speed if the fight that fans crave takes place in 2014, according to trainer Freddie Roach.
After Pacquiao returned to winning ways by demolishing former world lightweight champion Brandon Rios in Macau on Sunday, talk turned inevitably to the long-awaited mega-fight against eight-time world champion Mayweather.
Promoter Bob Arum confirmed to AFP that Pacquiao, the only man to have held world titles in eight weight divisions, would next fight on April 12 in Las Vegas, with one of his conquerors from last year – America’s WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, or Mexican arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez – the likely opponent.
After that they would try for Mayweather, who already has a fight scheduled against an as yet unnamed opponent on May 3.
The earliest that “Pac-Man”, 34, and “Pretty Boy”, 36, could meet, a fight that could generate a record $300 million in pay-per-view revenues, is next September.
“It’s a fight that should happen and where there is a will there is a way,” said Arum, following Pacquiao’s big points victory over Rios for the WBO International belt.
“Particularly after that performance.”
Roach said he would prefer a fifth meeting with Marquez, who knocked out Pacquiao on the most recent of their epic encounters almost a year ago, “to shut him up”.
But then Roach wants victory over Mayweather. “That’s the fight the world wants to see,” Roach told AFP.
“Mayweather in his last two fights has been slow, he doesn’t move as much as he used to. I think Manny’s speed will overwhelm him. Mayweather is not good against southpaws. And he has trouble with speed.
“Manny Pacquiao, he’s back, but I never really had the thought he went anywhere.”
Pacquaio told reporters he was ready to go toe-to-toe with Mayweather, but that the decision rested with the American.
“My job is to fight and I will fight anybody who will fight me,” Pacquiao said. “I am willing to fight Floyd. So it is up to him.”
Rios, wearing dark glasses to cover his battered features, agreed that Pacquiao’s blistering speed of punching and his fast reflexes had taken him by surprise.
“He’s much faster than I thought he was,” Rios told a press conference. “He was great. I tip my hat to Manny Pacquiao. He still has it.”
Rios’s trainer Robert Garcia also paid tribute. “I think everyone had that question after the Marquez fight: ‘Which Pacquiao are we going to see?’ I think we saw the best Pacquiao.”
Pacquiao took more than two hours to get to his post-fight press conference, after having to supply two urine samples for dope testing by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Organization) and the sanctioning body, the World Boxing Organisation (WBO).
One of the biggest sticking points preventing Mayweather facing Pacquiao in the past had been the American camp’s insistence on strict drugs testing. That may have been removed now, with Pacquiao being tested frequently.
So did Pacquiao foresee any other obstacles in the way of the fight? “You’ll have to ask him,” he said, referring to Mayweather.