Viloria picks Manny over Floyd on pts
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former WBC/IBF lightflyweight and WBA-WBO flyweight champion Brian Viloria said the other day he expects a close fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in their 12-round WBC-WBA-WBO lineal unification welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2 and predicted the Filipino’s win by a unanimous decision.

“They both match up almost equally in terms of hand-speed and footwork,” said Viloria in an e-mail from Los Angeles. “Mayweather’s defensive style will make it hard for Manny to land a solid blow but his volume punching and ability to get in and out of the pocket quickly will keep Mayweather on his heels and in that defensive position much of the time.”

Mayweather, 38, isn’t likely to engage the hard-hitting Pacquiao, 36, and experts are anticipating a tactical fight. The challenge is for Pacquiao to cut the ring off on Mayweather and take away the American’s mobility. If Mayweather isn’t as quick as he once was, it won’t be difficult for Pacquiao to catch him. But if Mayweather is still as elusive as a phantom in the ring, Pacquiao will log a lot of mileage on his legs to chase him down.

There is no rematch clause in the fight contract. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao are confident of winning. If the outcome of the May 2 duel is unclear, a rematch would be inevitable to deliver a bigger purse for both protagonists.

“We need to get through this fight first before we could talk about a rematch,” continued Viloria. “If either fighter wins by a unanimous decision, I’m sure there will be a rematch. But the fight has to be an exciting one that fans would want to see them fight again. If it’s going to be a boring fight and a huge let-down, I don’t think fans would care to watch them fight each other again.”

Viloria said the fight has the makings of a classic. “This is a prime example between a defensive fighter in Mayweather and one of the most prolific offensive fighters in Pacquiao,” he said. “I’m expecting a very technical fight between two of the best fighters in boxing history. The magnitude of this fight is at par with Ali versus Frazier and Tyson versus Holyfield. As a fan of the sport, I hope that both fighters will perform and excite us and bring us to our feet.”

Viloria said he’s hoping that 2015 will be a breakout year for Filipino boxers. “I know for sure Manny and I will train harder than ever to make Philippine boxing great and our fans rejoice and be proud once more,” he said. “As for me, there are no plans set in stone yet for my next fight. There are big talks on me fighting Roman Gonzalez or a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada for their titles, probably in the US or back in Macau.”

Viloria’s manager Gary Gittelsohn, for his part, said Pacquiao will win a lopsided decision. “I strongly believe Manny will win the fight in a one-sided distance contest,” said Gittelsohn in a text from Los Angeles. “I envision Mayweather going into a defensive shell unable to deal with Manny’s work rate. Given the anticipation and build-up for this event, I think the fight itself will not contain the kind of fireworks people expect. Still, this will surely be Manny’s crowning ring achievement. As for a rematch, I think it’s likely.”

Meanwhile, PBA governor Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra said if Pacquiao lands his left hook countering Mayweather’s right, it will be lights out for the American. “Manny hits too hard,” said Chua. “Mayweather will run. Manny will put him down but not out. Manny will win a decision. I hope it turns out to be a real fight, meaning Mayweather stands up and doesn’t run. In terms of style, speed and power, Manny has the edge. We waited over five years for this to happen. I know Manny won’t disappoint the fans. He’ll go all out to fight. I just hope Mayweather does the same thing. Mayweather fights like Sugar Ray Leonard, he’ll hit and run. If he doesn’t run, Manny will catch him for sure.”

Views on how the fight will end are pouring in from every corner of the world. Former Pacquiao sparmate Amir Khan said Mayweather will win. “Pacquiao is open a lot, he gets caught with a lot of shots,” said Khan who’s lining himself up for a shot at either champion. “His work rate has dropped a lot, in my opinion. Age is going to get to you, you’re going to be old one day and you can see that age now, in Mayweather and Pacquiao but they’re still great fighters, the things they are doing most 25-year-olds can’t do.”

One of the “great pretenders,” WBA “regular” welterweight champion Keith Thurman of Florida chose Mayweather to win. “Mayweather has better defense,” he said. “If you make a mistake, he will go for that. I like Manny, he’s a great guy, but he’s not the same fighter he was a couple of years ago.”

Former WBC/IBF superbantamweight titlist Israel Vazquez also picked Mayweather because “he’s an intelligent fighter.” Former WBO middleweight and WBC supermiddleweight champion Nigel Benn said Mayweather will be at his best against Pacquiao. “I think Mayweather wins because it’s a fight he would get up for and when he fought (Marcos) Maidana, he didn’t look good,” said Benn. “Fights like (Saul) Alvarez, people thought he might lose and he went out there and did a number on him. He’s beaten all the top boys. He’s beaten world champions. Picking and choosing, he’s been doing it for years but I’ve got to take my hat off to him because people have said, ‘Oh, he is going to have a hard fight with Canelo,’ ‘Oh, he’s going to have a hard fight with him or whomever’ and he’s made it look easy. Almost everybody aside from Maidana, he’s made it look easy. He’s been picking all the top boys and he’s been doing it for years, unbelievable.”

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