Final details of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather best pound-for-pound title fight still are under negotiation, but Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said he expects the fight to land in Las Vegas. He also said the formal announcement tentatively is scheduled in less than three weeks for the 5th or 6th of January in New York.
Roach offered that general outline while in Manhattan Wednesday night to work the corner for Cuban super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux. Roach said Pacquiao plans to train for a month in the Phillippines, then move his base of operations to the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for a month and finally to Las Vegas one week before the March 13 fight.
Asked when Pacquiao's training camp would open, Roach said, "As soon as the first press conference is over. Bob [Top Rank promoter Arum] tells me there's one press conference here in New York and then we're free. So, as soon as that gets over with, we're going to go to camp. I think it's around the 5th or 6th [of January]."
Technically, the venue for the fight has not been settled. Top Rank's Todd DuBoeuf still could put the fight at Land Shark Stadium in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area or at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But Arum previously canceled a trip to Dallas to negotiate with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after Mayweather's representatives objected to that location. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas remains a likely site, or an association of casino owners could construct a temporary 30,000-seat outdoor stadium on the Strip to host the welterweight title fight.
"We don't really care where it goes," Roach said. "I feel like it's a Vegas fight, to be honest with you. There's no way Mayweather will fight in Texas. I'm not really worried about it."
Speculating on Mayweather's objection to Texas, Roach said, "Texas has been known for bad decisions, some people say, but I love Texas. I have no problem with it."
Mayweather lives in Las Vegas, so, he might believe that's his home turf even though Pacquiao's last bout against Miguel Cotto was at the MGM Grand. "The thing is that Nevada is as fair as can be," Roach said. "I mean, Nevada has bad decisions, too, sometimes. Let's face it. It's part of boxing. It's opinions. The thing is I think the referee is really important in this fight because the referee can really [influence things]."
Originally, Roach was in favor of a proposed May 1 date because he felt it would benefit the promotion. Other industry sources agreed. But Pacquiao is running for political office in the Phillippines in May, so, the March 13 date was chosen. Roach said he's happy about that because it means his man gets back in the gym more quickly.
As for whether Pacquiao might be distracted by the political process in the Phillippines while preparing for Mayweather, Roach said, "That's his decision. He's his own man. I have nothing to do with the politician side of Manny Pacquiao. I wish him well. If I could vote, I'd vote for him because I know he wants to improve his country.
"Manny is very happy with the deal Bob gave him. He's anxious for the fight."
According to Roach, Pacquiao and Mayweather agreed to an even split of pay-per-view proceeds. Talk of tuneups and moving to a higher weight class all has been denied, and while Mayweather's determination not to take the fight to Texas threw a monkey wrench into the works, there is very little doubt the fight will come together as expected.
"He's going to take it," Roach said of Mayweather. "Where else is he going to go for the money he needs to make?"
Roach said this will be Pacquiao's toughest fight yet, and he's predicting his man will win a decision. "It's not an easy fight for either man," Roach said. "I think it's a 12-round fight. I think we have our work cut out for us. We fought the last four or five guys, who were guys that come to you. Now, we're fighting the complete opposite, a guy that moves away, very defensive. We've got to set traps. We can't just walk into Mayweather's traps because he's very smart. He's very good at what he does, and he's a very tactical fighter. That's why I wanted to start camp early."
If there's a crack in Pacquiao's armor, some critics have faulted him for not facing an African-American fighter during his career. "Well," Roach said with a smile and a shrug, "we're about to fight one. So, the best guys out there, we'll fight. We're not prejudiced; we don't hate anybody. Manny Pacquiao loves God and loves every person in the world. He's a nice person."