After six years of negotiations, Manny Pacquiao will finally get to face the opponent he has always wanted.
Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) will face pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It's a fight that's expected to bring the world to a halt. For PacMan, it's a big opportunity to build on his legend and attain the crowning achievement of his legacy. But can he overcome an opponent with the best defense in all of elite professional boxing? Can he defeat an opponent who's taller and has a longer reach and unequaled technical skill?
To prove all the predictions wrong and beat the favored Mayweather, Pacquiao must stick to the following key factors:
5. Unpredictable speed and bursts
Pacquiao's usual winning recipe is the same one we're recommending to beat Mayweather: dizzying speed, unscripted moves and his biggest advantage -- explosiveness. This strategy of constant pressure will prevent Mayweather from dictating the pace of the fight, which is one of the preferred weapons he uses to make his opponents look bad.
4. Start early
If there is something Pacquiao needs to avoid it's taking the first few rounds to study his opponent. The first part of the fight is Mayweather's Achilles' heel. Marcos Maidana made it complicated for him, Shane Mosley hurt him early, and even Oscar De La Hoya got to him at the beginning. Manny has to follow their lead and, as his promoter Bob Arum suggested, punch Mayweather in the mouth because Floyd is prone to cutting his lips.
3. Watch out for the counterattack!
People always say that styles are what make the fight, and it's true. But that equation doesn't add up when physical advantages favor one of the fighters as they do here. This factor will benefit Mayweather when it comes to unleashing his counterattacks. Pacquiao will have to cover more ground to punch with his left hand, and that's where he'll be vulnerable to Mayweather's right hand. Facing this possibility, Manny needs to play it safe with his punches and position his right hand in a way that allows him to block each of his opponent's counterattacks.
2. More punches
Manny's speed and explosiveness guarantee he'll throw a good amount of punches per round, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll find their target. That's why Pacquiao will have to increase the volume of his artillery, punch from all angles and make Mayweather trade blows with him. He will also have to end each round like a machine gun. Winning the last snapshot in each round is essential if, as everyone presumes, the fight goes the distance and the judges determine the winner.
1. The corner
This is the fight Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach has long awaited, the fight in which he'll seek the crowning achievement to his masterful career as a trainer. That's why developing an appropriate strategy, and a plan B if things don't go right, will be his exclusive responsibility. Will we see the Pacquiao who knocked out Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Ricky Hatton and De La Hoya? Or will he repeat his recent non-KO performances against Brandon Ríos, Timothy Bradley and Chris Algieri? Whether what we see is good or bad, the responsibility is all on Roach's shoulders.