Inside, Manny Pacquiao's inner rope finally snapped.
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It was a December afternoon, and he broke from his training routine momentarily and began shadowboxing Mayweather.
Then he told trainer Freddie Roach, "This is how I'm going to smash him."
Until then Roach had not heard Pacquiao deliver an unkind word about an opponent in nine years.
The anger passed. So did the opportunity for smashing.
Pacquiao and Mayweather were scheduled to fight on March 13, a moment that would lift boxing past all the March Madness, all the spring training, all the NFL and NBA chatter. Big fights always rise like that, but this one would pervade the world.
It won't happen, because Pacquiao and Mayweather could not agree on the amounts and timing of drug tests.
Pacquiao instead will fight Joshua Clottey on the same day, and Mayweather, in a bit of irony that makes Roach smile, will fight Shane Mosley, who has admitted to using performance-enhancers.
Mayweather signed the contract Wednesday, and full Olympic-style testing is in the deal.
Roach doesn't think Mayweather will climb into that May 1 ring either. Not against the motivated and resourceful Mosley.
"He'll get swine flu or get hurt or something," Roach said.
For Pacquiao, the trick is to swallow that setback and get ready for Clottey, 34, a tough piece of welterweight gristle from Ghana. Clottey has beaten Zab Judah and Diego Corrales, and he lost a split decision to Miguel Cotto last June.
Another distraction is Pacquiao's congressional race in the Phillippines. Election Day is May 10.
But the location of this fight should be a stimulus. Jerry Jones lured the two fighters into Cowboys Stadium, and the first 25,000 tickets disappeared in a hurry. The Jerry-Rigged, gargantuan stadium will be configured to seat about 45,000.
"We respect Clottey, he's a gentleman," Roach said. "But I'm just now learning things about how he fights southpaws. I think we will be the first to knock him out."
Of course, Pacquiao could just pretend he's looking across the ring at Mayweather.
"I understand Floyd," he said the other day, just before a workout at Wild Card Gym. "He just can't say, 'I'm not ready for the fight. I don't want the fight.' He's making alibis to cancel the fight. He's not ready.
"I feel bad, I'm disappointed. I'm not angry toward Floyd, but he's making alibis, and allegations about my name. I deserve for this to be given to me because I sacrifice and train hard and focus for the fight. Going for the allegations about steroids. ... I don't even know what that is."
"He has no history of steroids, no symptoms of steroids," Roach said. "I can't even get him to take protein shakes and vitamins. He's not on steroids. This was Floyd's way out. He got boxed in a little bit. He doesn't fight everybody. He picks and chooses styles. Now I want to see what he does to get out of fighting Mosley."
Pacquiao had agreed to take blood tests up to 24 days before fight night, and immediately after the fight. Mayweather wanted testing up to 14 days before the fight. Pacquiao said he has an aversion to needles, although he has a tattoo on his inner arm.
But Mayweather based his suspicions on the fact that Pacquiao has carried his power through almost 30 pounds of weight gain during his career.
Pacquiao's people immediately pointed out that Mayweather won Golden Gloves titles 19 pounds apart over three years, and that such champions as Henry Armstrong, Ray Robinson, Alexis Arguello and Roberto Duran brought their power up through the weight classes.
Pacquiao is suing Mayweather for defamation of character.
"A lot of people think Manny is on steroids because he's so good," Roach said. "It's the type of society we're in."
The trainer says Pacquiao will be locked in March 13 for various reasons. Pac-Man is studying tape of Clottey, for instance, a habit he picked up after his relatively shabby victory over Juan Manuel Marquez. "Manny used to watch 30 seconds and get bored and go away," Roach said.
Roach also says Pacquiao has told him the Clottey fight could be his finale, a concept that has several different lawyers and promoters reaching for the Prozac.
"I think he could do more as a boxer," Roach said. "But I would love for him to leave. It would be nice. Rarely done, though. When he finds out what those politicians do. ... Everyone loves him now but he might have to make some tough choices. He might not be as popular."
Pacquiao is as opaque as always, when asked about the future.
However, he will pull up a chair when Mosley fights Mayweather.
"I think Mosley will win," he said, his eyes grim and dark. "He's fast. He's a fighter."