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Floyd seeks Freddie’s advice

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – In what may be a sign of bridging barriers, Floyd Mayweather Jr. visited the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles twice this year and sought out coach Freddie Roach for advice. Roach spoke with Mayweather on his first visit but was in Russia attending to WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev when the former five-division world champion made a second appearance.

“Floyd dropped by to check out the gym,” Roach told The Star recently. “He looked around and I took him to the new private gym on the ground floor. No, he didn’t work out. Floyd’s actually a nice guy. It’s his father (Floyd Sr.) and uncle (Roger) who’re crazy. I’ve known Floyd since he was a kid.”

What surprised Roach was Mayweather asking his advice about opening up gyms on a franchise basis. There are now two Wild Card Gyms – the original in Hollywood which opened in 1995 and a second in Santa Monica which started shop in 2013. Roach owns the first gym and co-owns the second, called Wild Card West, with actor/producer/director Peter Berg. Roach said he rarely visits the Santa Monica facility which Berg runs.

“I appreciated Floyd coming over to ask for my advice but I told him I had no time to help because my gym is so busy and I’m looking after a lot of fighters,” said Roach.

According to Roach, Mayweather mentioned plans of opening gyms carrying his name around the world. He said they never talked about the possibility of a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. But a few months ago, in a Los Angeles restaurant, Roach bumped into CBS chairman, president and CEO Les Moonves and the rematch was a hot topic. Moonves is one of the US highest-salaried executives, ranking No. 2 in 2013 with an annual pay of $67 Million.

“I came across Les by accident during dinner,” said Roach. “Les told me let’s do it again, repeating it thrice. I think we can put this together. I told Les I’d talk to Manny about it and Les told me he’d take care of Floyd.” Moonves played a key role in staging the first encounter which Mayweather won on a unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last year.

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Roach said there will be high public interest in a return bout because Pacquiao fought Mayweather with an injured right shoulder and convinced some quarters to believe he deserved to win. Now that Pacquiao’s shoulder is completely healed and he has scored decisive back-to-back wins over Tim Bradley and Jessie Vargas since the Mayweather fight, the fans are curious about a return bout. The curiosity could turn into a clamor.

Roach and his chief assistant Marvin Somodio said Pacquiao will definitely beat Mayweather if and when they meet again. Pacquiao will be well-armed to cut the ring off from Mayweather and break down the shoulder-roll defense with blistering combinations. Mayweather will be 40 next February and hasn’t fought in over a year while Pacquiao turns 38 next month and has kept busy in the ring. The rust is more evident on fighters who are older and have been inactive.

Last Saturday, Mayweather was at ringside as Pacquiao’s guest during the Vargas fight. At one point, Pacquiao looked at Mayweather as Vargas took a boxing lesson, probably a signal to call out for a rematch. Mayweather was later quoted as saying Pacquiao’s performance was “not bad.”

Pacquiao and Mayweather have held private talks in the past. They’ve spoken about how to more effectively manage their careers and how to maximize their earnings. Pacquiao may fight once more before luring Mayweather back into the ring and that could take place in March or April, when the Senate has a recess, against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez. That would also be Pacquiao’s last fight in his Top Rank contract. Then, after Pacquiao becomes a free agent, he’ll no doubt chase Mayweather for a grudge rematch in November when the Senate has another recess.

Mayweather is a win shy of breaking Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0 as a retired, undefeated world champion. A win over Pacquiao in a rematch would raise his mark to 50-0, a golden milestone.

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