Manny Pacquiao closed training camp in Hollywood on Monday, embarking on a cross-desert drive with hundreds of his supporters caravaning en route to the fight of his life versus unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 knockouts) has trained for eight weeks with his famed cornerman Freddie Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club, a ritual of work that Roach said has left his fighter faster and stronger than ever for Saturday’s welterweight title unification bout at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“My focus and killer instinct [have returned],” Pacquiao said on the heels of a personal-record six-knockdown showing in November over Chris Algieri. “Thinking, imagining my mood before, getting back to when I [stopped/knocked out Miguel] Cotto, [Ricky] Hatton, [Oscar] De La Hoya [in succession in 2008-09].”
Roach said the camp has resulted in a rebirth of Pacquiao’s most vicious effort.
“Since day one, when the fight was announced, he’s raised his level – he’s faster, hits harder – and I ask him if he’s going to hit Mayweather that hard, and he says yes,” Roach said. “That gives me a lot of confidence. He knows what he has to do to win the fight. This has to carry over.
“The excitement of the fight – of wanting it so long – some guys will [get nervous] and some will say, ‘I can’t wait,’ and that’s Manny for sure. I’ve never seen him at this level before.”
Roach said he’s not predicting a knockout, since his fighter hasn’t scored one since 2009, but he said Pacquiao’s punching volume can win him the bout on the scorecards.
“If we can get a five-punch combination off and [Mayweather] doesn’t throw back until we’re finished … and when he misses, we’ll go back in,” Roach said. “It’s one of the most successful things we’ve done in this camp … setting that tone to out-score this guy.”
Mayweather, who trains and lives in Las Vegas, is just less than a 2/1 favorite at sports books in Nevada. At 47-0, Mayweather’s speed and boxing IQ are seen as his best assets in a fight expected to shatter boxing revenue records.
Pacquiao has reviewed Mayweather’s 2006 fight against Zab Judah, a left-hander who gave the champion some difficulty.
Executing the fight plan is crucial.
“We can’t follow this guy … [Pacquiao] knows,” Roach said. “We’re in a must-win situation. He knows what he needs to do to win the fight. Just because [Mayweather] is undefeated … Manny’s fought tougher guys. Nobody’s perfect. Being undefeated doesn’t mean [anything] to me.”
The deeply religious fighter said despite the extended wait for this bout, he feels confident he will remain calm and committed to deliberate execution on fight night. Pacquiao said he will pray right before the bout begins.
“I’ve realized from the Bible, from the message of God, that He says, ‘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, continuing a superstitious tradition, is to navigate on Interstate 15 north through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas, where on Tuesday he’ll begin fight week with an 11 a.m. rally at Mandalay Bay convention center.
Pacquiao’s son, Israel, is celebrating his first birthday Monday, a celebration that will be marked on the trip. His mother, known as “Mommy D,” also attended Monday’s session.
“I always [drive], better than a big plane,” Pacquiao said.