Manny Pacquiao trains with Freddie Roach.
Manny Pacquiao trains with Freddie Roach.

Hopes of Pacquiao versus Mayweather increase



NEW YORK // Freddie Roach believes that Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be preparing for a long-awaited showdown with Manny Pacquiao by returning to the ring in September.

The trainer of the Filipino sensation told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Wednesday that he thinks Mayweather has agreed to fight young welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz because his style would help get him ready for a fight against Pacquiao.

"Of course, that's the first thing that came to my mind," Roach said.

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The Manny Pacquiao Story

•  Interactive: The Manny Pacquiao story
•  Part one of the Pacquiao story: In Mannyland
•  Part two of the Pacquiao story: Unchanged by fame
•  Part three of the Pacquiao story: Team Pacquiao
•  Manny Pacquiao's greatest fights
•  Pacquiao's promoters keen to push through fight in Abu Dhabi
•  He's the best, but Manny Pacquiao is still learning to be better

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Ortiz and Pacquiao are both fast, high-volume punchers who tend to press the action. They are also southpaws, and Mayweather - who will be ending a 16-month layoff when he steps into the ring Sept. 17 - has rarely fought left-handed opponents during his undefeated career.

The few he has fought, Zab Judah to name one, have cause him some problems.

"I'm just figuring he'll give us a good blueprint to fight him, how Floyd handles fighting a southpaw," Roach said of Ortiz, who won the WBC 147-pound title with a narrow unanimous decision over Andre Berto in April, a certain candidate for Fight of the Year.

"Some left-handers have given him trouble," Roach said. "Judah gave him trouble but couldn't maintain the pace. Guys like Victor Ortiz, Manny Pacquiao, they can maintain that pace. And I do think the southpaw stance gives him trouble."

Pacquiao is scheduled to face Juan Manuel Marquez in November in the third fight of their epic series, after routing Shane Mosley last month. Mayweather easily beat Marquez in September 2009 before soundly beating Mosley in his most recent fight.

Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, who handles Ortiz and has worked with Mayweather in the past, laughed off the suggestion that "Money Mayweather" could be getting ready to face Pacquiao by accepting a fight against someone as young and hungry as his fighter.

"If you want to get ready for Manny, of all people, you're not going to fight Victor Ortiz," Schaefer said. "You would be shooting yourself to pick someone as tough, as physical, as strong, as young as Victor to prepare for Pacquiao."

Pacquiao and Mayweather have come close to reaching a deal for potentially the richest fight in boxing history on multiple occasions, only for it to evaporate.

Mayweather has insisted that he will require random blood testing for any future fight, even though it is not required by any boxing commission. Pacquiao has agreed to the blood tests but the two sides could never agree on a specific protocol.

Ortiz agreed to blood and urine testing laid out by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Pacquiao recently settled a defamation lawsuit against Schaefer and his partner, Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao claimed in the suit that he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but said that De La Hoya and Schaefer - along with Mayweather, his father and uncle - had embarked on a smear campaign to make people think he used drugs.

Mayweather and his family members weren't involved in the settlement so that case is still pending, which presents yet another obstacle to the megafight ever happening.

In the meantime, Mayweather will start preparing for Ortiz. The former five-division champ has often been criticized for facing opponents who are smaller than him or past their prime, but that won't be the case when he steps into the ring against the WBC titleholder.

"Victor Ortiz is one of the most exciting guys in the sport. He's a tremendous story, great personality, bilingual," Schaefer said. "And it's the comeback of Floyd Mayweather.

"Over the last couple years, he always fought the guys before Pacquiao and he still got criticized," Schaefer said. "Finally, the media and fight fans realize he doesn't duck anyone. Coming back to fight Victor Ortiz shows you what he's made all about."

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