A quiet storm brews as Mayweather vs Pacquiao draws near

Ryan Songalia

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A quiet storm brews as Mayweather vs Pacquiao draws near
Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao kept it classy at the final press conference, but both sides are expecting their game plans will carry them to victory

LAS VEGAS, USA – There were hints of a rivalry ready to explode on the dais at the final Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao press conference on Wednesday, April 29. It just didn’t involve the fighters. 

While Bob Arum and HBO Sports president Ken Hershman lauded HBO’s programming, and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe touted Showtime for having “the biggest star in sports,” both fighters kept it classy and brief, choosing instead to promise a fan-friendly fight on Saturday, May 2 at the MGM Grand. 

The congenial theme that has typified the fight’s buildup prevailed, with both boxers flashing the smiles of men about to cash the biggest checks in the sport’s history. Pacquiao, never one to talk trash, instead extended an invitation to Mayweather that no fighter is likely to have offered his opponent before. 

“The most important thing, I’m hoping after the fight we can have a conversation with Floyd sharing my faith about God,” said Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 knockouts).

The fight, five years in the making, is just days away, and with the right to proclaim one’s self the best fighter of this era hanging in the balance, both camps are confident in their ward’s chances. 

“I think he likes being the underdog,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach. “We like being the underdog, we like pulling upsets when you’re not supposed to win. People like doing things they’re not supposed to do.” 

“I’m just here to tell you, whatever it is, it’s gonna be one-sided. If it ain’t one-sided, he’s gonna be going to sleep,” Floyd Mayweather Sr, the father and trainer of Mayweather, said. “Good night.” 

‘I don’t think he wants this fight’ 

Roach says the reason for Mayweather Jr’s absence of trash talk has been nerves and that he was forced into the fight by Showtime, the network that Mayweather has fought his last four fights on, and Showtime’s parent company CBS. 

“At the [kick-off press conference in March], I did say that we’re gonna kick his ass, I didn’t get any response from Mayweather,” Roach said. “His speech was very subdued, very low-key. I’m driving home and I says ‘I’m not so sure he’s gonna show up.’” 

Arum interjected: “I think what Freddie means by show up is show up when he gets in the ring for the fight. He’s gonna show up for Christ’s sake, we need people to keep buying the pay-per-views!” 

“I don’t think any fighter’s afraid but I think he was forced into this fight,” said Roach. “I don’t think it’s a fight he wants to be in. He got to pick and choose his last opponents but he didn’t get to pick and choose this one.” 

Pacquiao, who is a +170 underdog at the MGM sports book and is being picked against by 3 of their 5 common opponents, says he likes the feeling of being expected to lose. Being doubted brings out a passion in him that had been absent in recent years, he says.

“The good thing about every time I’m an underdog – Marco Antonio Barrera I, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba my first fight in America, Oscar de la Hoya – that feeling it’s kinda different. I’m so happy for that feeling.”

Mayweather Sr, who has traded barbs with Roach in the years since this fight entered the public discussion, made a veiled claim about Pacquiao using performance enhancing drugs, claims that resulted in a lawsuit against the father and son in 2009, which was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. 

“I’ve said it before, and went to court for it. I’m not gonna say what I think,” said Floyd Sr. “[Pacquiao] can’t punch. Floyd is gonna walk his ass down.”

“This fight isn’t good versus evil. This fight is one fighter at the top of the sport and another fighter that’s at the top and giving you guys excitement,” said Mayweather Jr (47-0, 26 KOs). “We don’t know how this fight is gonna play out but I believe in my skills and that I’ll be victorious. 

“When I went to training camp I worked extremely hard, and I’m sure Manny did the same. So that’s why this is an intriguing fight.” 

Arum declined to make an estimate on how many pay-per-views will be sold, but Ellerbe said early tracking on Wednesday is at the Friday rate for Mayweather’s 2013 fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, which did 2.2 million buys at $64.95 ($74.95 high definition) for a record sum of $150 million in revenue.

Saturday’s fight is being sold for $89.95 for a standard definition pay-per-view in the United States and $99.95 for high definition. – Rappler.com

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