Las Vegas - Floyd Mayweather insisted on Wednesday that his blockbuster fight
against Manny Pacquiao is about boxing and business, not angels and demons, as
the rivals went eyeball-to-eyeball at their final pre-fight press conference.
Pacquiao goes into Saturday's bout that has the boxing world buzzing
trailing a mantle of humanitarian deeds.
The two-term congressman tipped as a future Philippines president has left
womanising and gambling ways behind him and while he stands to make some $100m
for his night's work on Saturday (Sunday SA time), the devout Christian says he
hopes the intense focus on the fight will be a stage for the glorification of
"I want to inspire," Pacquiao said.
But Mayweather won't be playing the devil, despite a history that includes
two months in jail in 2012 for an assault on an ex-girlfriend in front of two
of their children.
"I am a realist," said Mayweather, the 38-year-old American who
has parlayed a perfect 47-0 ring record into a reign as the highest paid
sportsman on the planet.
"This fight is not good versus evil. It is one fighter who is at the
top and another."
It was Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach who first billed the fight as good
against evil, citing Mayweather's record of domestic violence.
"For the first time in my life with Manny Pacquiao, this is the first
fighter he hasn't liked. I can tell," Roach said earlier this month.
Mayweather, an energetic trash-talker in his younger days, has often courted
controversy - Comparing himself favourably to Muhammad Ali and flaunting the
perks his wealth has brought: houses, cars, even an airplane.
But Mayweather, who said this week he expects a payday of $200m for this fight
alone, says none of that will matter when he steps in the ring.
"I believe in my skills. I believe I will be victorious," said
Mayweather, who puts his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association
welterweight belts on the line against Pacquiao, the World Boxing Organization
champ who boasts a record of 57-5-2.
For more than five years, contractual hurdles and animosity between the
camps kept the top pound-for-pound fighters of their generation from meeting in
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Promotions is partnering with
Mayweather Promotions to produce the event just as television rivals HBO and
Showtime have come together in a rare partnership, said the experience had been
However, the long-awaited bout has captured the imaginations of fight fans
and casual observers around the world.
"I don't take nothing away from Pacquiao, he is going to be an
intriguing match-up on Saturday," Mayweather said. "He didn't get to
where he got by not beating tough opponents."
It's that kind of measured respect that has Roach doubting that Mayweather's
heart is in the fight.
"I wonder if he's going to show up," Roach said shortly before the
fighters took the stage at the MGM Grand's 1 950-seat Ka Theater - usually the
home of Cirque du Soleil.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson strolled in - only one of the boxing
legends, A-list celebrities and casino high-rollers drawn to the event.
"I think he was forced into this fight," Roach said. "I don't
think he wants to fight this fight. He didn't get to pick his opponent."
But the 38-year-old Mayweather said he no longer needs to indulge in trash
"Me speaking loud and having personality, I did that in the past,"
he said. "I'm a lot older and wiser, this fight sells itself. I don't have
to do it."
A world champion in five weight divisions and closing in on Rocky Marciano's
iconic record of 49-0, Mayweather scoffs at the notion that the 36-year-old
Pacquiao, winner of world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions
will be the one to get past his consummate defence.
But Roach, who admits he has been studying Mayweather for years, believes he
knows the key to a Pacquiao victory.
"I think we have more speed, more power and I think we're 100 percent
ready for what he brings to the table," Roach said.