For half a decade, fans all over the world eagerly waited for news and confirmation about this much-anticipated battle between the undefeated American boxer who claims he’s “The best ever,” and the 8-division Filipino boxing champion and congressman whom supporters refer to as “The people’s champ.”
The Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao bout took five long years to finalize. But the wait is worth it, if only evidenced by the hype surrounding the May 2nd clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“Normally I’m inviting the media and now I’m actually throwing them out,” said Fred Sternburg who has been in-charge of Pacquiao’s public relations since the first Eric Morales fight. “Manny has asked me to close the doors, to stop giving interviews. We will continue that,” he said in an interview during Pacquiao’s open media workout which was attended by an estimated 300 credentialed members of the media.
Of course print and broadcast journalists, boxing analysts and bloggers came to see and talk to the man of the hour, since this training camp has been closed off to the public and to reporters. Security has been strict. And that is something that Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach had always wanted for his ward.
“I’ve never seen Manny better. There’s no distractions. I want Manny performing for me and not the audience. The audience he can perform for on May 2nd.” Roach said.
A historic fight and the largest purse in boxing history, so what’s important for the fighters, legacy or money?
“A little bit of both, my legacy. But of course being a prize fighter, I want to make money. A little bit of everything plays a major key in a fight of this magnitude,” Mayweather said during his media day.
And during Pacquiao’s media day, Top Rank bossman Bob Arum answered the question: “Victory. I can’t wait to fly with him (Pacquiao) to Manila week after the fight, for the biggest victory parade in the history of the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao is going to knock Mayweather out. Guaranteed.”
This is also the guarantee that Roach offers, especially since according to him, they have devised a way to attack Mayweather’s famous defense.
“He holds his hands up well and that’s good for defense. But his body is wide open when he does that. I think we will work the body a little bit in this fight and if we do that, I think we will be successful. We just have to mix it up a little bit,” he said to a throng of reporters asking the same question about strategy. “Manny will win with speed. We’re faster,” he added.
Some observers, however, say that while Pacquiao may have the speed and power, Mayweather has the brains. And Roach responded with this: “The brain doesn’t score points. The hands do. We will outscore him and outpoint him.”
In fact, he added that his only concern is that Mayweather might not even engage, “I hope he (Mayweather) stays to fight. I hope he doesn’t run. But whatever he does, we are 100% ready to deal with.”
Sternburg, who has been witnessing the closed door training of Pacquiao, attests to Arum’s and Roach’s guarantee.
“If Manny and Freddie perform the way they’re rehearsing, it will be a great performance,” he said.
For now, while everyone awaits the big show, there are speculations about who’s in control in the background; and more importantly, where are the tickets?
“The show is being run by Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank. But as far as tickets are concerned, contractual, it’s MGM,” Arum said.
So has anyone seen or bought a ticket yet? Or is it as legendary as the unicorn?
Jannelle So is credited for creating, hosting and producing America’s first and only locally-produced daily talk show for Filipinos, that ran for 8 ½ years under her leadership, making it the longest-running Filipino talk show outside of the Philippines. Connect to her on Facebook –www.facebook.com/JannelleSoOFFCIAL; Twitter –www.twitter.com/JannelleSo; Instagram – www.instagram.com/sojannelle; or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.