Anyone expecting fireworks before the big show, longing for those good old days when pre-fight brawls ensured a boxing match would get on SportsCenter, were disappointed at the Wednesday afternoon presser at the MGM, counting down to the Saturday clash of the fight titans, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Both men, the 38-year-old Mayweather, who’d been under a microscope after calling himself better than Muhammad Ali, and then being featured on the ESPN “Outside the Lines” show regarding his arrest record, and Pacman, 36, who seemingly has had a superlative and relaxed training camp, punctuated by multiple visits from a parcel of celebs, thanked God first.
Floyd offered zero trash talk while Manny made sure to note that his reason, the main reason, for taking this challenge was to spread the word of God. In fact, he invited Floyd for a sitdown faith-talk post fight, regardless of the outcome on Saturday. Floyd didn’t respond to the offer…
It was left to 83-year-old Bob Arum to stir the pot, and he didn’t disappoint. The Vegas based dealmaker set the table by showing media a link to a story on FightNews.com, which stated that the Association of Boxing Commissions is calling for an investigation into Al Haymon, to decide whether he wears too many hats in the business. Arum blasted his reclusiveness, asking the room how many had chatted with him. A couple hands went up. He joked that he spoke enough for both of them. He’d started the stirring last night, when he told me that this promotion was the worst he’d experienced in his 50 years in the game, because of the treatment he felt was shoddy, from MGM boss Richard Sturm, who he says is too influenced by Haymon.
Arum had people on the dais, on the Mayweather/Showtime side, squirming, when he talked up HBO, as being best in brand, and touted the May 9 show, a Golden Boy scrap, as well as the K2 heavyweight show the week before. He had the knowing folks in the room chuckling as he lauded the MGM property Mandalay Bay, glowingly, drippingly, and then answered the titters by playing it off, because Mandalay is an MGM building. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza didn’t counter with ire, instead noting that this event is about the fighters, the guys who run the eight miles every day. He and Floyd were whispering during the Arum session; what were they saying? “We were both bored out of our minds,” Espinoza told me after the event.
In intimate media gatherings held before and after the presser, things were a bit spicier. Arum told us he’d have plenty to say about Al Haymon after May 2; said that he didn’t want to divulge how much Manny would make because charities will besiege Pacman; said Manny will give half his take to charity anyway; said he will cut Manny a check for $25 million, guaranteed, Monday, minus an IRS cut, for starters; said absent PPV, revenue will be around $100-$130 million; said the PPV will break a record; said Team Floyd has paid money to accuse Pacman of using PEDs, and he didn’t specify how so; said it would be cruel and unusual to ask him to do a rematch; said Floyd is OK, but then called him a megalomaniac.
Freddie Roach said watching the Floyd-Oscar fight helped him decipher how to deal with the check hook and the straight right; said losses make a person and a fighter a better man; said that they are still waiting for the glove-maker to deliver Floyd’s mitts for the fight to the commission.
Pacman said his killer instinct was all the way back, that he was doing this to spread the word of God.
Floyd Sr spoke, and said his son will administer a drubbing or get a KO. Manny doesn’t have punching power, and he referenced PEDs, saying he’d already been sanctioned for that, so he didn’t want to go further.
Floyd, after the presser, expressed dismay that he had to do more media, but warmed up to it. “Nothing has changed since yesterday,” he grumbled. He said he loves you if you bought a ticket, and thanked media, for good and bad stories. He was asked about the Baltimore rioting, and blew it off, saying he wanted to be positive. After he wins, he will watch playoff basketball, he said. He admitted he doesn’t know if the fight lives up to the hype. He also busted on Manny, saying he didn’t fight a drained Oscar, or a weight-drained Cotto, or a faded Margarito.
All in all, it continued to be Arum providing the old school style combative talk, while Floyd is maintaining a less out there personality, insisting it’s by design, that he’s more mature, nearing the end of the line, and doesn’t need to talk trash to sell tix or make a splash. Floyd came off as a bit edgy, from doing media, for what it’s worth. Does that mean anything? Who knows? Manny was Manny, is he ever not, and was gracious and engaged, though he was running late for his one on ones session, Q n A, which took place before the presser.
— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
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