Most diehard fight fans and the majority of the boxing media expect Manny Pacquiao to win decisively against a 39-year-old Shane Mosley on May 7. But that's not a luxury granted to Pacquiao or his trainer Freddie Roach, who have to prepare for Mosley in training.
The fighter and trainer both say they expect the best Shane Mosley in a little over a week.
"If Mosley brings his best we’re ready for his best," Roach said in today's media conference call. "I don’t think there will be any room for an upset, but in boxing you never know. We’re 100% ready and have done everything we can to be ready
Upsets and surprise performances have been the hallmark of boxing's incredible April, with a supposedly too-old Erik Morales taking Marcos Maidana to the wire, James Kirkland being wiped out by Nobuhiro Ishida, unbeaten prospects David Lemieux and Marcus Johnson losing, and top-ranked flyweight Luis Concepcion also dropping a fight in Panama.
"Mosley brings speed, power, he’s got a good team behind him and I think we have a big challenge ahead of us," said Roach. "Manny’s motivated and he’s motivated for a reason, and that reason is Shane Mosley. And he respects Mosley, also."
During yesterday's conference call, Mosley said he's confident that he has the speed to hit Pacquiao, and hit him often, and cited Pacquiao's November win over Antonio Margarito.
"I look at different fights and I look at the Margarito fight, and I noticed that Margarito landed the most punches ever on Manny Pacquiao," Mosley said. "So if Margarito is fast enough to land punches on Manny Pacquiao, I know I'm fast enough to land punches on Manny Pacquiao."
Whether Pacquiao approaches Mosley the way he did Margarito is certainly an open question, and chances are it won't be expected. Roach talked about Manny getting hit, and the acceptance that Manny's always going to get hit.
"The thing is I don’t think it’s on purpose, nobody wants to get hit on purpose. But when you like to exchange and you like to throw punches, that’s what it is. That’s why Manny is the most exciting fighter in the world," he said.
"With an offensive-minded fighter you’re always going to have the other end," Roach continued. "We’re going to throw a lot of punches and Shane is going to come back."
Will Pacquiao attempt to knock out Mosley, who has never been stopped? The Pacquiao camp, and namely Roach, has been bold about making knockout predictions in the past, but Roach is a bit more reserved this time around.
"Shane’s a tough guy and a very durable and it would be a feather in Manny’s cap to be the first one to stop him and prove just how much better he is than that other guy who couldn’t stop him," he said, referencing Mosley's loss last year to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"We’re going to force the action and we’re going to go for it this time. If it comes, it comes. And I think Manny is definitely the guy to do it."
"We don’t focus on the knockout, and if it comes it comes," offered Pacquiao. "We’ve prepared ourselves to fight 12 rounds."
"I think all fights should end in knockouts so I’m rooting for a knockout," said Roach. The trainer could also not sound more pleased with the way Manny has trained, a switcheroo from recent camps where so much of the chatter has been about Manny being distracted by his outside interests and his political career in the Philippines.
"He hadn’t been in the gym since the Margarito fight and he was hungry for boxing again. He missed his boxing job and he was very motivated coming into camp. A lot of people told Manny this is an easy fight, that Shane hasn’t looked good in his last couple of fights," Roach said.
"We’ve never had too many bad training camps but since the start of the training camp he’s been motivated for Shane. Usually it takes us a little while to get into the flow of the camp. But since day one he’s been on fire."
Roach also said that they would start holding Manny back in the final week of camp. "That’s the hardest thing is slowing him down."
"My family keeps me motivated. God, my family and the Filipino people," said Pacquiao. "And of course the boxing fans. I’ve always motivated myself, because it is my job, and I have to train hard and work hard. I love to work hard."
The most overlooked aspect of this fight may, in fact, be the duel between the trainers, two of the most highly-respected in boxing today. Freddie Roach also his admiration for the other side's training camp, led by Naazim Richardson.
"I think Naazim’s a very good trainer," he said. "He has experience. He knows how to get to his fighters, he brings out the best in people. It’ll be a challenge for me to come up with a better game plan than he does. I respect him a lot. That’s why I expect Shane to be at his best."