Former IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba knows a thing or two about Manny Pacquiao. In June 2001 “Hands of Stone” lost his title to the Filipino in a sixth round TKO in Las Vegas. The 44-year old is tipping Floyd Mayweather to best Pacquiao at the MGM Grand on Saturday.
He says: ‘They are both some of the best that have ever boxed. I would put my money with Mayweather. Looking at the percentage of both fighters, you can see both are powerful. Manny is powerful with both hands but then Floyd we know has had difficulty against southpaws, but he will be well-prepared. The truth is that Floyd will make it no matter what.’ Ledwaba knows about Pacquiao’s prowess in the ring but still says the American is the favourite in this contest: ‘Mayweather is not just someone you overlook or someone who you can avoid. He is one of the greatest athletes in the whole world. He has the unbeaten record and his legacy. He is right up there with the greats. I would say he is clever, a tough guy and very accurate as well so it will be tough for Pacquiao. There is a lot at stake here.’
In an interview with The Ring, “Pacman” rated Ledwaba’s hands as the fastest he had faced in his entire career. Thinking back all those years to the famous encounter against the Filipino, the Meadowlands man says he had butterflies in his stomach despite believing he was the favourite: ‘I believe that I was the favourite then. I was given a good offer by HBO so why would I have thought any differently? I was a bit nervous because I was fighting someone I didn’t know or didn’t see or had a clue about. I did not know what to expect.’ However five rounds and 59 seconds later the Johannesburg native knew all about the Asian star. He says: ‘The truth is that after the fight I knew I was fighting a great guy; a warrior, an ambitious fighter who was willing to go far as far as boxing is concerned. The truth is that he moves and jumps around the ring well. He is not easy to court and the southpaw stance is also an advantage.’
However despite the southpaw advantage, Ledwaba insists it is the American known as “Money” who will triumph in Sin City come Saturday night.
Lehlohonolo Ledwaba fought on 43 occasions and recorded 36 wins, 6 defeats and one draw. He held the Transvaal, South African and IBF junior featherweight, WBU bantamweight, WBU featherweight and IBO junior lightweight belts in a 16-year career.