Former IBF welterweight champion Isaac Hlatshwayo is making Manny Pacquiao his favourite to the win the “Fight of the Century” against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday. Hlatshwayo picks Pacquiao based on his powerful punches and incredible hand speed. The 37-year old says he has no problem with the massive amounts of money at stake and believes the two pugilists will do the purse justice: ‘This is the fight that the whole world has been waiting for so these guys deserve this kind of money. Both guys have got a lot to prove. They are where they are today because of hard work. It wasn’t a fluke. They’ve overcome guys like (Oscar) De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, (Miguel) Cotto and (Antonio) Margarito so I think this fight will live up to the hype.’
The American is 38 while the Filipino is 36. It has taken years of negotiations to finally make the fight happen and some are concerned that both boxers are now passed their prime. However Hlatshwayo has no such reservations, saying: ‘I think this fight is happening at the right time because both guys are at the end of their career and now want to prove they are the best in the world pound-for-pound. There’s a lot at stake with Mayweather looking to beat (Rocky) Marciano’s record.’
The bookmakers have made “Money” the favourite to defeat “Pacman”. The South African has warned that the Michigan man will have to be on guard: ‘I think Mayweather must avoid Manny’s left hand. He must use the jab. He must move in and out and not mix with Manny. He must stay away from the ropes and keep moving away from that left hand.’ Hlatshwayo also has advice for the Asian southpaw: ‘Pacman has to dig deep. He has to make his way in with his left. He needs to get into position to throw that left because that’s his biggest weapon. When it lands I think something special will happen. He has very good hand speed.’
The Limpopo native is endorsing Pacquiao for the win, saying: ‘He’s the underdog, he’s the puncher and I am going with him. Manny Pacquiao. You have to give him a chance. He’s a puncher and a puncher must always be given a chance because whenever he lands, he might cause damage.’
Hlatshwayo held the South African and IBO lightweight as well as the IBO and IBF welterweight titles during a 37-fight career, in which he won 30, lost six and had one draw.