Los Angeles - Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather came face to face on Wednesday for
the first time since their May 2 mega-fight 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," said the unbeaten
Mayweather, as the countdown began to an eagerly awaited welterweight
world title showdown in Las Vegas that has been a long - and at times
fraught - five years in the making.
Filipino ring icon Pacquiao countered: "The fight is on and we're
very excited. Both of us will undergo hard training, and we will do our
best on May 2 to make you happy."
The celebrated duo seemed relaxed as they posed and chatted for a
phalanx of about 600 media representatives who were recording their
The deal for the fight wasn't sealed until February 20, leaving
little time for the usual pre-bout media blitz, making Wednesday's event
the only joint news conference they will conduct 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 winking, showed only rare glimpses of his
"Money" Mayweather swagger - he did predict 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 drawn and 38 knockouts, wore a darker 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
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
Mayweather made little impact with his own somewhat half-hearted
attempt to get into Pacquiao's head with a reference to the defeats on
"When you lose, it's in the mind," said Mayweather, widely considered
boxing's pound-for-pound king. "From day one, I was taught to be a
But Mayweather admitted the stakes are 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.
Previous bids to put together a fight between the two - most notably
in late 2009 - had run aground over various issues, including division
of the purse, drug testing protocol and animosity between Mayweather
and Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum.
No lingering ill-feeling was in evidence on Wednesday.
"We're family. We're all part of this boxing family," said Arum, who promoted Mayweather until an acrimonious split in 2006.
Another complication was the fact that Mayweather has a deal with US telecaster Showtime and Pacquiao with fierce rival HBO.
The two networks are working together on the bout, with HBO Sports
president Ken Hershman saying on Wednesday the event "transcends boxing for
sure and will probably transcend sport."
Showtime's Stephen Espinoza called it a "monumental event" that is
sure to be the "biggest and most lucrative combat sport event the world
has ever seen."
The fighters entered the theater separately, walking to the stage in a parade reminiscent of a walk to the ring.
They faced front from the stage - to throaty cheers from their camps
and various hangers-on - then strode toward each other for a classic
"May 2, the fight of the century," Mayweather declared, sweeping
aside suggestions that the bout comes with each fighter past his
"This is a fight that the world can't miss."