Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was only confirmed a few hours ago, and the gamesmanship has already begun. It isn’t uncommon for coaches to let an off-hand comment or two get out before a big contest in order to get into the head of their opponent.
Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson was notorious for doing this kind of thing in press conferences. He would plant the seed that the other team’s star player would always get away with certain things. The theory goes that just the mere mention would make the player think about it during the game, and the referees would be on the lookout for it. With 11 NBA Championships, we can just assume that he knows what he is doing.
Of course, this is not something that is restricted to an NBA setting. Boxing’s closest approximation to Phil Jackson, Freddie Roach, is up to the same games in some of his first comments since the fight was confirmed earlier this afternoon.
“I know my guy will be there I know he will, I don’t know about the other guy because I don’t think he cares much about the fans. I think he just wants to do enough to win. Manny’s not like that, he takes chances that’s why he gets knocked out.” is what Freddie Roach said to ESPN Deportes.
Roach continued, “… I’d rather see a fighter get knocked out trying to win then see the fight go the distance.”
The intention here is transparent. Freddie wants Floyd to start feeling pressured into standing and fighting. The more Floyd stands and trades, the more opportunity there is for Manny to do damage. Ruben Guerrero tried a similar tactic during his notorious “woman beater” press-conference, but it had little effect on the outcome of Mayweather’s fight with “The Ghost”.
It may be doubtful that this lone comment by itself would have any impact on how Mayweather approaches this fight, but if a groundswell were to build within the media and fan chatter, it is possible that Floyd could start feeling a little pressure to put on a show. The beginning of such a groundswell may have already begun. On tonight’s ESPN broadcast, Teddy Atlas also brought up Floyd’s willingness (and lack thereof) to stand and fight.
Teddy Atlas said, “As far as what’s going to happen in the ring, Pacquiao and his braintrust better understand that the greatest strength of Mr. Mayweather is also his greatest weakness. Sometimes he goes defensive too long.”
Atlas then went into greater detail on how Manny Pacquiao could use Mayweather’s inactivity against him.
“Pacquiao does put punches together to be able to steal moments when Mayweather is too defensive. In other words, to out-hustle Mayweather.”
Do not be surprised if this becomes a major plotline in the coming months. This is the biggest fight in history. With the talk of $250 million revenues. $1000 ticket minimums and $100 Pay Per View costs combined with six years of hype, the entire boxing world is going to be demanding more than a tactical display from Mayweather. They are going to want their money’s worth.
Pacquiao has a fan-pleasing reputation, so the pressure to trade will land squarely on Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has never let outside pressure get to him in the past, but can anybody truly be prepared to deal with the kind of pressure that a fight this big will bring?
Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be meeting Manny Pacquiao at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2nd, 2015.