Pacquiao begins sparring ahead of Mayweather fight

Sport360 staff 07:29 19/03/2015
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Stepping it up: Manny Pacquiao.

Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has started sparring ahead of his May 2 showdown with unbeaten US rival Floyd Mayweather – but won’t be sharing a ring with Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.

– Fight Club: Mayweather is the unanimous choice of fighters

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– Pacquiao says he will ‘easily beat’ Mayweather for good of boxing

Pacquiao’s workout at the Wild Card Gym yesterday included five hard rounds with a pair of sparring partners. It pleased trainer Freddie Roach as well as the Asian legend, who was anxious to start swinging his fists at foes following nearly two weeks of other training.

“After 13 days of strength and conditioning and boxing drills at Wild Card plus weeks more of working out in the Philippines in February, it was great to finally put on the headgear and spar,” Pacquiao said.

“My sparring partners gave me good work today. They were perfect for testing the strategy Freddie and I have developed to beat Floyd Mayweather. I was very happy with my stamina and speed.” I

t had been rumoured that Pacquiao had recruited super bantamweight champion and defensive genius Rigondeaux to mimic Mayweather’s style.

However, Roach denied that and revealed he would be sparring two unbeaten prospects in Kenneth Simms Jr. (5-0, 2 KOs) and Rashidi Ellis (14-0, 11 KOs).

Roach was extremely pleased with Pacquiao’s display, especially since he had not fought since overwhelming Chris Algieri last year.

“Manny looked so fresh today. I’m very happy with what he showed me,” Roach said. “You couldn’t tell he had been away from the ring since the Algieri fight in November. Manny is on fire in the gym.”

Roach noted Pacquiao’s sparring had started on St Patrick’s Day while US baseball teams were involved in pre-season spring training, making his confidence for the big fight clear.

“When Manny threw out the first punch it felt like opening day of Irish Spring Training,” Roach joked. “I am confident May 2 will be celebrated for years to come as St Manny’s Day – the day he drove Mayweather out of boxing.”

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Fight Club: Boxers back Mayweather over Pacquiao

Andy Lewis 09:58 16/03/2015
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Put your Money where your mouth is: Mayweather defeated Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009.

Everybody has an opinion when it comes to the May 2 superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. 

The unbeaten Mayweather started as a heavy favourite, while the gap in the odds has narrowed somewhat since the fight was 

officially confirmed.

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– On The Radar, March 16 – 22: Emirates T20, Zayed Marathon

– Pacquiao says he will 'easily beat' Mayweather for good of boxing

But few are more qualified to speak about what might unfold at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas just over six weeks from now than the five men who have shared a ring with both fighters.

Nobody has spent more minutes on the end of Pacquiao’s punches than Juan Manuel Marquez, who has faced the Filipino no less than four times – losing twice, drawing one and winning once with a sensational knockout in December 2012. Marquez also faced Mayweather in September 2009 where he dropped a wide decision to the American. 

It must be remembered, however, that Marquez was stepping up for a bout set with a 142-pound catchweight and then accepted an increased purse to go ahead with the fight when Mayweather arrived for the weigh-in a full four pounds too heavy.  

By the time they reached the ring he was even bigger and made full use of his size advantage. 

Boxer Manny Pacquiao poses on the red carpet before a joint press conference with Floyd Mayweather.

Mayweather’s larger frame was clearly evident when he faced off with Pacquiao at their Los Angeles press conference last week, but Marquez doesn’t believe that will prove much of a factor. He does, however, expect Mayweather to make it a “boring” fight and win a decision. 

“In these kind of fights height and strength is not a big difference,” said Marquez. “Most importantly is who has the better mind in the fight, who launches their attacks better, and uses their defence better, which Mayweather knows how to do well and Pacquiao must improve on.

He added: “Floyd’s style and technique has given him 47 wins, so why take a risk in the biggest fight of his career? Floyd is a technical fighter who can make it a boring fight if that suits him.

“If it can be a quiet fight for Floyd then he’s going to take that and look to get a clear decision.”

Just one other of the pair’s shared opponents chooses to disagree and that is Miguel Cotto. 

The Puerto Rican shares a trainer with Pacquiao these days and he says Freddie Roach’s strategy will be key to an upset. 

“After working with Freddie I think Freddie is going to be huge in the fight,” explained Cotto, stopped in the 12th by Pacquiao in 2009 and out-pointed by Mayweather two and a half years later. “I’m going for Manny.”

Ricky Hatton is the only man knocked out by both fighters and he says Mayweather’s counter-punching gives him the edge.

“Manny is a great fighter but when you look at the trouble he had with the counter-punching style of Juan Manuel Marquez, he could be in serious trouble with Mayweather,” said Hatton, a former two-weight world champion.  “Floyd always finds a way to win, no matter the style, and that’s the reason that I make him a slight favourite over Manny.”

Oscar De La Hoya took such a beating from Pacquiao in 2008 he retired immediately after that punishing eight-round drubbing. 

Twelve months earlier he was on the wrong end of a split decision against Mayweather. It’s a fight he still feels he won. 

The 42-year-old believes the Pacman of old would be nailed on for victory, but the 2015 version may fall just short. 

“Today, I would have to go with Floyd,” he said. “Three years ago it would have been Pacquiao.”

The fifth and final man to have traded shots with both is ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and he also sees the home fighter emerging victorious with the help of the judges. 

“The better technician will be Floyd. He’s been fighting a lot more on the inside, and throwing harder shots. I don’t think people realise that Mayweather does have a little bit of power,” said Mosley. 

“I see that Mayweather wins the fight and I think it goes 12 rounds.”

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Kovalev vows to continue fighting only the best

Sport360 staff 03:15 14/03/2015
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Unifying the belts: Kovalev on his way to victory over Bernard Hopkins.

Sergey Kovalev says beating Jean Pascal will see him rise to a new level in his career. The rock-solid Russian puts his IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight titles on the line against the Haitian-born Canadian in his opponent’s backyard at the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight.

– Pacquiao says he will ‘easily beat’ Mayweather for good of boxing
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– Filipino expats delighted at prospect of Pacquiao vs Mayweather

Kovalev overwhelmed veteran Bernard Hopkins last November to unify three of the four major belts in the division. But in Pascal – and the size of the venue and hostile home crowd – the 31-year-old believes he faces his biggest test yet.

“Jean Pascal is a tough boxer and Saturday I will see how tough,” said Kovalev, who has halted 23 of his 26 foes. “For me this fight is very interesting because it is next step in my career, the next test in my career.

“For myself I want to prove who I am on this level, in front in this huge arena, in my first time fighting in a huge arena like this. “We are Russian, we are ready for anything. We are ready to make good fights. It is interesting fight. If I look for easy opponents, it will not be interesting for anyone. Who is the best right now in this division? We will find this out Saturday.”

Pascal, 32, won once in each of the past three years, notably over compatriot and former world champion Lucian Bute at Montreal in January of last year. Last December, Pascal had a tworound no contest with Argentina’s Roberto Bolonti.

Another Haitian-born Canadian, Adonis Stevenson, owns the weight division’s only major crown not at stake tonight. The 37-year-old southpaw is set to defend the WBC throne April 4 at Quebec City against Cameroonborn Australian Sakio Bika.

Kovalev says he wants the chance for an undisputed crown but says he is not thinking ahead to a possible Stevenson matchup. “My next fight is against Pascal,” Kovalev said. “I’m not thinking about anything else.” 

Pascal, who provoked his opponent into a shoving match at the final press conference by knocking his baseball cap off his head used an ice hockey analogy to describe his chances.

“In hockey, Russian players do well during the regular season and then not do well in the play-offs. So I think that, like those hockey players, Kovalev will not be able to perform the same on Saturday night against me as he has in the past against other fighters. Nobody should take me lightly.”

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