Virgil Hunter, trainer to Andre Ward, Amir Khan and Andre Berto among others, was kind enough to stop and talk with Sean Zittel of thaboxingvoice.com and share his thoughts on the supposed impending super-clash between Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26 KOs) and Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs).
“Again I kind of have to go with Mayweather in that match-up because what I’ve seen from Manny is he hasn’t made that seasoned transition yet, and what I mean by that is he still fights at that high energy, frenetic pace, and you know at his age that style should’ve been relaxed by now and he knows when to turn it on and turn it off.”
This correlates with Hunter’s comments about Deontay Wilder and his apparent state during his pre-fight press conference for his fight with Stiverne. Hunter felt he was burning up too much energy that would be better kept in reserve should his imminent contest be a tough one. He prefers a fighter to be calm. Though he concedes that Pacquiao seems to rev his engine in a more deliberate fashion than does Wilder.
Having said that, Hunter goes on to critique Pacquiao’s style, pointing out what he sees as a deficiency in the variation department, and that he lacks that quality which allows a fighter to dictate the terms of combat, what is generically coined ring generalship.
“He hasn’t developed that signature punch and the control of the ring to control his opponent where he can take his time. Look, he’s still a great fighter don’t get me wrong about that but in a fight that calls for great focus, as Marquez proved that, if you can only put it down one way and not be able to make the adjustments it can really wear and tear on you.”
He makes a good point regarding Marquez here but I don’t believe the Mexican’s stunning knockout of Pacquiao in the pair’s fourth meeting came about solely as a result of Pacquiao lacking dimensions as a fighter. Marquez is one of the best to compete in this era, a cerebral and calculating boxer/puncher who finally cracked the code after nearly two hours in the ring with his nemesis. All of their contests were closely fought, but Marquez possesses the only definitive victory of the series.
Hunter touches on this point when elaborating further on why he favours Mayweather over the Filipino.
“I lean towards Mayweather because of the IQ and because I think his style presents just as much of a problem for Manny as Manny’s style might present to him. Most of the guys who fought Manny didn’t have the athleticism to deal with his feet and they didn’t have the knowledge to deal with the types of angles he tries to create, other than Marquez, because you can honestly say it is debatable whether all those fights were won by Manny or not.”
Part of me couldn’t help but think that during this monologue Hunter just may have drifted out of his bubble of objectivity and began pondering how to break down Manny’s style just as if he were preparing one of his own fighters for the task, especially given Amir Khan’s newfound interest in taking on his former gym-mate. But, as is his preference, he did not allow his wonderings to deteriorate in to trash talk.
“Look, he’s a great champion and he has my respect. He’s a first ballot hall of famer. He’s proven who he was. His career was outstanding and great and in that particular fight I lean towards Mayweather.”