Manny wants to be friends with Floyd, maybe even convert him to his faith
HOLLYWOOD—For God, for country. And maybe even for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Manny Pacquiao continues to exude confidence as time shuffles to fight night against the undefeated Mayweather, telling reporters that he is open to being friends with his brash American rival after they collide on May 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I want to have a one-on-one conversation with him after the fight,” Pacquiao told journalists Thursday afternoon after another tapered down training session at Wild Card gym here. “I want to share my faith with him.’’
Faith has been the central narrative of Pacquiao’s journey toward the biggest fight of his career. While his entrance song will dwell on making this a fight for his countrymen, he has made it known that faith will define his approach to this fight. In fact, Pacquiao refuses to fall into the good-vs-evil hype surrounding the fight.
“Only God can judge his heart. We cannot judge him; we cannot condemn him,” said Pacquiao.
And he may even try to convert the once-incarcerated wife beater.
“When I talked to him, I saw his character. He has heart. If he changes his ways and follows God, he will inspire many people and the Lord will be happy,’’ Pacquiao said.
The Filipino bumped into Mayweather in a Miami Heat basketball game in January where they exchanged telephone numbers. They met again the next day and discussed the fight, paving the way for negotiations that culminated in an agreement to fight in Las Vegas on May 2.
“We can share the gospel to the people who don’t know Jesus,” added boxing’s only eight-division champion.
Pacquiao is optimistic that everything will go his way on fight night, calmly saying he has “10,000 angels around me.”
“And the Lord promised me: ‘So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,’” Pacquiao said.
As far as trainer Freddie Roach is concerned, though, it is the other hand that will do the damage on fight night.
The left hand has “always been his best punch,” Roach said. “When you’re fighting a right-hander who moves the way Floyd does, the left hand is going to be a key punch for us.”
And with Mayweather ducking behind his shoulder roll a lot, that left hand will be even more important. The Mayweather camp may work on reversing the welterweight champion’s defense to move him away from Pacquiao’s left, but Roach believes they’ll catch the American behind the shoulder roll during the fight.
“I’m sure he’ll try not to do that but it’s a habit and he does it all the time,” Roach said. “I think he’ll make a mistake at least once in this fight.”
All Team Pacquiao wants to make sure now is it won’t be their man who commits mistakes.
“Reckless and careless are the same thing… but the thing is I teach my fighter how to fight the fight and the thing is we’re not going to be either one of those,” said the Hall-of-fame trainer.
“We’re going to be smart,” he added. “We have a very good game plan. Me and Manny worked hard a lot on it together. We actually watched tape together for the first time in our lives.”
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