Steve Collins “This is his[Pacquiao] last hurrah,


Steve CollinsFormer WBO World super-middleweight champion Steve Collins was in London at the end of February in his capacity as a trainer with his man Frank Buglioni. It was nearly a fortnight after Floyd Mayweather Jr(47-0, 26KO’s) and Manny Pacquiao(57-5-2, 38KO’s) had formally been announced, so after pleasantries were exchanged Kugan Cassius from iFL TV asked for Collins’s opinion on the biggest fight in recent history.

“People say that five years ago they were both at their peak, but at the end of the day they’re both the same people who would have fought five years ago fighting today. They both are in the best possible condition they can be in for their age, so it doesn’t matter, it’s still a match, it’s still a great fight.”

As you might expect, they have been ageing at the same rate over the last half decade. However, one of the major points of discussion has been whether Pacquiao’s skills have deteriorated at a faster rate than Mayweather’s. I believe this stems from two poor outings in 2012 where he controversially lost on points to Timothy Bradley before getting knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez six months later.

That was a rough twelve months for Pacquaio, but he rebounded well after a further year out of action to recover himself by winning three in a row. Granted the first was against a rather static Brandon Rios but he followed it up by avenging the ‘defeat’ to Bradley on points before destroying Chris Algieri last November, knocking him down six times en route to another points win.

Pacquiao is definitely on good form right now, and Collins said he would like to see him emerge with the victory as he identifies with the Filipino more that his American counterpart.

“I would like to see Pacquiao win cuz I like him personally, I like how he carries himself as a professional fighter so therefore I would side with him. Plus the fact that my friend and former coach Freddie Roach is his coach and advisor, so I’m obviously biased, I want him to win for that reason as well.”

Wanting Pacquiao to win and believing he will do so are two different things, but they fall into the same bracket for Collins. As he explained;

“I honestly believe he has what it takes to win yeah. He’s a fighter that needs to be pushed to the limit to bring the best out in him and he certainly is gonna be pushed to the limit in this fight, and I think this is his last hurrah, his last big showcase and I think he wants to go out on a high note.”

Pacquiao has been accused of complacency in the past; most notably in his first meeting with Bradley where he seemed content to take most of each round at ease before launching his combinations near the end of the session, a la ‘Sugar’ Leonard against Marvin Hagler. That was a man in cruise control, but there will be no such luxuries against Mayweather.

Finally, Collins was asked whether Pacquiao’s speed -his most celebrated asset- has been diminished my the passing of time. He responded in the affirmative but gave plenty of reasons why he feels Pacquiao has enough in other departments to make this a mute issue.

“He’s got the craftsmanship, the ring knowledge, he knows how to get close to the guy, he knows how to cut the ring off, he knows how to land the shots you know. He may not have the speed he had five years ago, but he still has enough speed to land the shots and telling blows.”

These are attributes he scarcely gets credit and by listing them Collins is effectively pouring scorn on any critic who feels Pacquiao lacks in the finer points of the game. He did not reach the top of the mountain with just his speed, toughness and power. These gifts had to be tailored to an approach, to tactics and strategy, and this has been done with huge success over the years against a murderer’s row of opposition. When Pacquiao meets Mayweather on May 2nd, it will be far from a one-horse-race from Collins’s perspective.