Las Vegas - Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather comfortably made the weight
for their world title showdown on Friday at a raucous weigh-in which
underscored the frenzy of interest surrounding boxing's latest "Fight of
The key pre-fight ritual drew a stunning crowd of 11 500 to the MGM Grand
Garden Arena, where the rivals will clash Saturday in a fight that has
catapulted boxing into the public consciousness in a way that hasn't been seen
Tickets were sold at $10 apiece and some in attendance paid much more on the
secondary market just for a chance to glimpse two of the most talented fighters
of their generation step on the scale.
World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council champion Mayweather
weighed in at 146 pounds (66.22kg) - one pound under the welterweight limit.
World Boxing Organisation champion Pacquiao weighed in at 145 pounds.
"It is an unbelievable turnout," Mayweather said. "I am glad
all the fans came out to support myself and support Manny."
While a relaxed-looking Pacquiao beamed at his followers, Mayweather kept
his game-face on.
"My thing is to focus on what we've got to do tomorrow,"
Mayweather told the crowd. "I've dedicated myself to the sport of boxing
for more than 20 years, and I'm ready."
The Filipino icon's fans made their presence felt, with loud chants and even
a few boos for Mayweather.
Pacquiao's homeland is expected to grind to a halt when the fight airs on
Sunday morning (local time) as the impoverished nation of 100 million cheers
its "National Fist" in open-air screenings, cinemas, bars and homes.
For many Filipinos, the 36-year-old Pacquiao embodies their hopes of
escaping the grinding poverty that affects one in four in the country.
His humble demeanour provides a compelling contrast to the image projected
by Mayweather, a brash self-promoter who glories in his status as a
money-making machine and trails the clouds of a troubling past that includes
jail time for one of a string of domestic violence incidents.
While Nevada's legal sports books are taking some big wagers on Mayweather,
the money coming in from Pacquiao believers has narrowed the odds to about 2-1
in Mayweather's favour.
"Public opinion is definitely Manny Pacquiao," Jay Rood, vice
president of race and sports books at MGM Resorts International, said.
Boxing opinion is still Mayweather, most likely by 12-round decision.
Mayweather brings a perfect 47-0 record to the bout along with a reputation
for defensive skills that will thwart even aggressive southpaw Pacquiao.
"The fight is already won," Floyd Mayweather Sr, Mayweather's
father and trainer, said this week.
Pacquiao only smiles when asked about his underdog status - a first for him
since he defeated Oscar De La Hoya back in 2008.
"No one thought I could beat Oscar, and I was the underdog then,"
he said. "Maybe it's good for me."
Mayweather himself, a five-division title-holder, has blown hot and cold on
the importance of the bout ever since it was announced on February 20.
"I never wanted to win a fight so bad in my life," he has said, at
other times insisting that facing Pacquiao is "just another fight."
However the bout unfolds, it will be more than that, thanks to the
labyrinthine negotiations that finally brought about a clash that will smash
boxing's previous revenue records.
Old animosities between the fighters' camps and contractual hurdles
involving rival telecasters Showtime and HBO have all been overcome, and the
payoff will be huge.
Total revenue could reach $400m, fuelled by as many as three million
pay-per-view purchases and live gate receipts of more than $70m - all adding up
to a possible $200m payday for Mayweather and a $100m bonanza for Pacquiao.
Tens of thousands will pay about $150 to watch the fight on closed circuit
television at MGM properties around Las Vegas.
The 16 800 crowd at the Grand Garden Arena - where top tickets went for a
face value of $10 000 - will be stuffed with stars of sport and screen and the
high-rollers that make casinos hum.
With 150 000 to 200 000 people expected to descend on the desert gambling
haven, Las Vegas authorities warned they could take the rare step of shutting
down the city's famous Strip to keep the peace on fight night.
Las Vegas officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of the chaotic February
2007 all-star game weekend which saw several people shot and around 400 people