Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Fight of all fights
Boxers Manny Pacquiao (right) and Floyd Mayweather do the classic stare down during a news conference in Los Angeles to launch the countdown to their May 2 super-fight in Las Vegas.
As far as opening boxing press conferences go, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao conflab on Wednesday was about as nasty as a church picnic.
In fact, the only real animosity that surfaced from the low-key event at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles was when Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach barked: “We’re fighting the best fighter in the world, but we’re going to kick his ass. Sorry Floyd.” To which Mayweather barely raised his head.
There were no threats to eat anyone’s children or any punches thrown on the dais. Then again, the May 2 showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Theatre between the two Hall of Fame fighters is so huge — already being called the fight of the century — there is no need for any pre-bout antics.
Pacquiao, a God-fearing, soft-spoken Filipino, isn’t one to put on a show outside of the ring, and the brash American Mayweather, while he certainly has been controversial in the past, was as gracious as he has ever been, though he did insist at one point that the only reason why this fight — which has been more than five years in the making — was finally put together was because of him, not Pacquiao.
This is a fight many boxing fans believe should have come about in 2010, a year after talk of the showdown first began. Both fighters were in their primes and in their early-30’s. Pacquiao has lost twice since then — to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez (though he’s won his last three) — and Mayweather had just destroyed the likes of Marquez, Shane Mosely and Oscar De La Hoya. But for a number of reasons, including who gets top billing, the purse split, the location of the fight and Olympic-style drug testing, the fight didn’t come together until now.
But better late than never, and as both camps pointed out on Wednesday, Mayweather and Pacquiao are currently ranked first and third by Ring magazine as the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world (with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko sandwiched in the middle). Pacquiao is an eight-division world champion and Mayweather is undefeated and a five-division world champ. Credentials don’t get much better than that.
And both fighters agree that what’s more important than the three world welterweight titles on the line on May 2 is the fact that the winner will undoubtedly be proclaimed the best fighter of this era, and certainly the one of the best boxers of any era. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao have already won multiple world titles and have earned millions of dollars. But being labelled the premier fighter of this era carries more cache than yet another belt. Bragging rights can be the ultimate in motivation.
That’s why the attention for the May 2 fight is unmatched in recent boxing history. Co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank has said that the event could exceed four million pay-per-view buys, smashing the record of 2.4 million for the Mayweather-De La Hoya showdown in 2007. It’s estimated that the card could gross a quarter of a billion dollars in revenues, shattering all previous records. This fight will bring in more money than the GNP of some small third world nations. And that’s no joke.
What also makes this bout especially intriguing is the fact that the styles of the two fighters are so different. Mayweather, 47-0 26KOs, is a defensive master who always shows up in absolute top form. He’s a throw-back to the days when the best old-time professional boxers did not get out of shape between bouts. Pacquiao, on the other hand, comes out you like a tornado, throwing punches from all angles, mystifying his opponents with his southpaw stance and unorthodox attack. If there’s an advantage to be had by either fighter, as Mayweather so subtly pointed out on Wednesday, Pacquiao, 57-5-2 38KOs, has lost five times, while he remains undefeated
“Losing gets in your head,” said Mayweather, who is trained by his father Floyd Sr.
“I know what I can do,” said Mayweather, 38, who is an incredible 24-0 in title bouts. “I know what I bring to the table. I know what I bring to the sport of boxing — to be the face of boxing and to do so many record-breaking things. It’s all about staying relaxed and staying focussed. Just expect us to have a brilliant game plan and to be the best that we can be. It’s all about working hard in the gym, listening, being smart, knowing your body and then when it’s time to go out there, we do what we do best.”
Even though Pacquiao is two years younger, he’ll likely remain the slight underdog leading up to the May 2 showdown based on his recent losses and the fact that he seems to be a little more of a spent fighter than Mayweather since the two originally talked about getting together in 2010.
Still, Pacquiao — who was seen casually checking his smart phone throughout much of the proceedings on Wednesday — is confident he can win.
“He has a good defence,” said Pacquiao, who was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 2010. “But I’m not worried about that. I can easily break that defence.”
Just like he and Mayweather will break every record outside of the ring on May 2.