By Kieran Mulvaney
If Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were politeness personified at yesterday’s final pre-fight press conference, their trainers were a little less decorous when talking to the media on Thursday morning. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s long-time chief second, attempted to make the case that, with the fight now so close, the time for trash talking between camps had passed. Mayweather’s father and trainer Floyd Sr. used part of his time at the podium to proclaim that, “Freddie Roach is a joke with no hope.”
Then again, Roach wasn’t exactly shying away from the opportunity to take some shots at the opposing camp, notwithstanding his earlier comment. Specifically, he was quite happy to go along with the suggestion that the younger Floyd was less than enthusiastic about facing the Filipino.
“He’s handpicked a lot of opponents, but I don’t think he picked this fight. I think he was forced to pick this fight.” Indeed, he added, after the official kick-off press conference in Los Angeles on March 11, he wondered whether the fight would actually happen.
“After that first press conference, I was driving home and I thought, ‘He isn’t going to show up [for the fight].’ He was far too nice, and I tried to make things happen by saying, ‘We’re going to kick your ass,’ and things like that. But it didn’t work. But it’s too close to the fight now for him not to show up.”
So did Roach agree with Mike Tyson’s reported assertion that Mayweather is “scared”?
“Mike knows a lot about boxing,” Roach smiled. “I like Mike. I trained him for a couple of fights. I’ll go with that.”
Off stage and awaiting his turn, Mayweather Sr. seemed alternately incredulous and apoplectic, although he swatted away the effects of Roach’s words when he took his turn at the microphone.
“Ain’t nothing he said moved me,” he sighed dismissively. The words from the assembled media, on the other hand, prompted pained responses.
Questioned about whether the clash of styles between the two boxers promised a high caliber contest, Mayweather responded that, “I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t think it’s going to be much of a fight.” Asked why he was so confident his son would emerge victorious in short order, he looked at a reporter with contempt. “Do you know boxing? It sounds to me like you don’t know boxing. Because that question was stupid.”
For Roach, this contest has been a long time coming, and he allowed himself to be optimistic about its outcome, if not exuberantly so.
“I’ve been training Manny for this fight for five years. I’ve been watching [Mayweather] for five years. I think we’ve covered all our bases. I think we have a good game plan.”
The senior Mayweather was predictably unmoved by that.
“We would whup Manny any time, any place, any year.”