Mayweather perfect target for Pacquiao
LOS ANGELES—Unbeaten in 47 fights, Floyd Mayweather Jr. could be the perfect target for Manny Pacquiao in their megafight on May 2 (May 3 in Manila)—so said the Filipino boxing king’s camp.
But the American champion was undaunted. He reminded Pacquiao of his sixth-round knockout by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. “You lose, it stays in your mind,” Mayweather said.
Pacquiao said that was part of boxing. “Losing made me a better fighter,” he stressed.
Pacquiao and Mayweather came face-to-face on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for the first time since their megafight was announced, as Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for the richest bout in history.
“It’s been a long road but we’re here now,” Mayweather said, as the countdown began to an eagerly awaited welterweight world title showdown in Las Vegas that has been five years in the making.
Pacquiao countered: “The fight is on and we’re very excited. Both of us will undergo hard training, and we will do our best to make you happy.”
‘I will be in top shape’
The celebrated duo seemed relaxed as they posed and chatted for a phalanx of about 700 media representatives who were recording their every move.
The deal for the fight wasn’t sealed until Feb. 20, leaving little time for the usual prebout media blitz, making Wednesday’s event the only joint news conference they will have before fight week.
“On May 2, I have a tough test,” Mayweather said. “Manny Pacquiao is a good fighter. I can’t see how it will play out, I am not a psychic. But you best believe I will be in top shape and the best I can be.”
The American, smartly clad in a dove gray suit and pale striped shirt with diamond cufflinks shining, showed only rare glimpses of his “Money” Mayweather swagger. He predicted he would emerge with his unblemished record intact.
“I believe in my skill. I believe in myself,” said Mayweather, who puts a record of 47-0 with 26 knockouts on the line.
Pacquiao, 57-5 with two draws and 38 knockouts, wore a darker Louis Vuitton suit and tie, and displayed his usual quiet confidence in a cavernous auditorium normally reserved for pop concerts and Hollywood A-listers.
“I believe I will win on May 2,” said the down-to-earth, 36-year-old southpaw, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach couldn’t resist a few jabs at Mayweather, who turned 38 in February.
“His legs are little bit shot,” Roach said. “He is going to have to exchange more. He has to exchange more because his legs won’t take him out of the way … if he has to exchange with Manny Pacquiao, he is in trouble.”
Role of underdog
Mayweather admitted the stakes were higher and not just because by the time the pay-per-view revenues are counted the fight is certain to be the most lucrative of all time.
“I’ve never wanted to win a fight so bad in my life,” said Mayweather, projected to make an eye-watering $120 million. Pacquiao will pocket $80 million.
Mayweather has remained undefeated in an 18-year career, while Pacquiao has bounced back with three straight wins since his loss to Marquez.
Pacquiao said he liked his role as the underdog. “(It) gives me more motivation, determination and focus,” he said.
Pacquiao and Mayweather joined their promoters and trainers at a Red Carpet press conference that resembled a movie premiere.
Pacquiao arrived first as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” boomed in the background. Then Mayweather made his grand entrance to the stomping-clapping beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
“This is an unbelievable matchup,” Mayweather said. “I’ve never wanted to win a fight so bad in my life.”
“I believe this is what you are waiting for,” Pacquiao said. “The fight is on, and we’re very excited.”
“This is the biggest challenge of my life. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long, long time,” said Roach. “We’re fighting the best fighter in the world, but we’re gonna kick his ass.”
The appearance of Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber, a friend of Mayweather, on the stage raised some eyebrows. A member of the media shouted, “Who’s that girl?”
A few years ago, Bieber had been threatened with a ban from entering the Philippines after making fun of Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Marquez on Instagram.
As the press conference took place, a large crowd waited outside hoping to catch a glimpse of Pacquiao.
Sean Watkins, a 27-year-old African-American, said he had great admiration for Pacquiao.
“(Pacquiao) is better prepared and has been through harder tribulations,” Watkins said.
Watkins said Mayweather was an excellent boxer and had had a great career but also had “a lot of distractions,” citing his legal issues.
Francisco Avila, a 24-year-old college student of Mexican descent, said he rooted for Pacquio’s Mexican opponents but he was now on Pacquiao’s side.
“I think he has taken a lot of risks in his career … more risks than Mayweather,” said Avila, who also conceded that Mayweather “has got a great defense.”
Promoted by Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank Inc., the pay-per-view telecast will be coproduced and codistributed by HBO and Showtime Pay-Per-View from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
At the press conference, it didn’t take long for Mayweather to put the fight into perspective in a way that only a fighter nicknamed “Money” can.
Nine figures in 36 minutes
“You get to this level where you’re making nine figures in 36 minutes,” Mayweather said, “and you have to be a winner.”
“We don’t want to leave a question mark in the minds of fans of boxing,” Pacquiao said. “It’s also very important. This fight is for the honor of my country.”
If the interest in the press conference at a downtown theater was any indication, the fight is already on its way to record business. More than 700 credentials were issued for the event and both fighters walked a red carpet lined by photographers and video cameras that was worthy of the Academy Awards.
How it happened
But the bout may not have happened if not for a chance meeting between Mayweather and Pacquiao at a Miami Heat basketball game in January—a meeting that took place only because a big storm on the East Coast delayed Pacquiao’s flight.
Mayweather went to Pacquiao’s hotel suite afterward and the two talked and decided the fight had to be made.
“I didn’t say a lot of words because I didn’t want to say a mistake,” Pacquiao said. “He said there’s an A-side and a B-side and the purse would be 40-60. That’s enough to put me on the B-side.”
Mayweather said the fight reminded him of when he was young and Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard fought in a huge middleweight title match in 1987. Mayweather said he wondered then how there could ever be a fight as big as that one.
Now he’s in a fight that will be bigger, if only because technology has advanced far enough to sell it to almost every home in the country.
“This is a fight the world can’t miss,” Mayweather said.–With reports from AFP and AP
Roach: We’re gonna kick Mayweather’s behind
Pacquiao: ‘I was more worried about De La Hoya and Cotto than Mayweather’
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.