“It’s time to fight now. You guys came out here to see excitement. You guys came out here to see a great event. And I think that’s what both competitors bring to the table, excitement. It’s the biggest fight in boxing history. I’m part of it. That’s a great thing. I am truly, truly blessed to be where I’m at. I feel good. I feel strong.’’
The speaker is, obviously at this point, 38 year old Floyd Mayweather Jr.
While many feel the “excitement” of Mayweather’s five or six years delayed showdown with Manny Pacquiao will either end when they step off the scales or when both have entered the ring for the introductions, there are two ghostly “players” involved who have offered no quotes, no predictions and no insights.
Shadowing Mayweather on one side is Father Time, the thief who suddenly and dramatically robs so many great boxers of their premium skills. (See the robotic and grossly mismatched icon Muhammad Ali versus a merciful Larry Holmes.)
Looming large behind Mayweather is also Common Sense and it is Common Sense that Mayweather, having run up a 47-0 record using his offensive skills in limited spots and his nonpareil shoulder roll defense, will not throw caution to the win against Pacquiao, who will be hopping and bopping from his southpaw stance.
Among those who are convinced we will see Vintage and not Decrepit Mayweather is former US Olympic Head Coach and longtime pro coach Kenny Adams.
“Pacquiao will have to force the fight,” Adams told me recently. “Pacquiao is going to try to come inside to land his punches and every time, or nearly every time he does this, Mayweather will tax his ass.
“By tax him, I mean that Mayweather will clip Manny with accurate, forceful shots, not just the jab and not just a lead right hand or Floyd’s slick check hook. Pacquiao will have to pay this physical tax each and every time he comes forward. The bigger, stronger guy can do this and Floyd will do it.”
Mayweather’s Mode, let’s call it. It’s simple if not crowd pleasing. He tries to do just enough, the bare minimum, to garner points, to win rounds even if they are so close, so that he gets his hand raised after 36 minutes.
In speaking to another boxing friend the other day, the conversation got around to Mayweather’s frank and intelligent admissions that he takes as little punching punishment as possible so as to avoid pugilistica dementia (punch drunk to the laymen) and other debilitating diseases as have afflicted the great Ali and so many others. When middleweight champ Gene Fullmer died the other day, obits noted his bout against dementia. (This is statistically common among ex-boxers.)
“Every time Floyd Jr. sees his father and his uncle (Floyd Sr. and Roger) he is looking at damaged goods, both of them battered performers from their days in the ring,” the friend said. “You look in the mirror at Pop and Uncle like they are, how could Junior not think about leaving boxing with his faculties and motor skills as normal as possible?”
So this, then, is how Mayweather keeps climbing his mountain, how he elevates himself to 48-0.
He will fight in spots, in spurts and in the waning seconds when any round is close. The No Doz concession should haul in record amounts.
Mayweather’s Mode is self-preservation. He can be knocked, ripped, chastised for much of his out of the ring conduct, but not for this.
Manny Pacquiao wants to save the world with the aid of Jesus Christ.
Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. wants to save himself.
Two other Mayweathers have tried…and two have failed. Junior doesn’t want to become the richest but also badly bruised and dented member of the fistic family.
There’s nothing wrong with that.