Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao face each other, the media in L.A.
LOS ANGELES — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao met face to face for the first time since their May 2 super fight was consummated. The meeting of boxing’s two biggest stars took place on Wednesday at Nokia Theatre, the site of the only kick-off press conference for their anticipated pay-per-view event.
Prior to the official presser, they took turns answering questions from a select gathering of sports and entertainment media in a private room, first Mayweather and then Pacquiao, who was accompanied by promoter Bob Arum and trainer Freddie Roach.
Both Mayweather and Pacquiao said the fight, which many boxing aficionados believe should have taken place five years ago, is happening when it should.
“It could’ve happened a long time ago but it’s right on time because all the fans want to see it. The fan demand for this fight is unbelievable,” said Mayweather, who could take home more than $100,000,000 after the highly anticipated joint HBO/Showtime venture. “Everything is about timing.”
“There’s more who know about this fight now, even those who aren’t fans of boxing know about this fight,” Pacquiao said. “All the Filipino people around the world are going to watch this fight.”
We can all thank an NBA game for what some are calling the biggest fight in history, according to Mayweather, Pacquiao and Arum.
“It was a chance meeting at the basketball game in January that really gave the negotiations a push forward,” Arum said. “Manny was in Miami to judge a beauty pageant and when his flight out of town was cancelled because of the weather, he contacted the Miami Heat coach, who being Filipino, was happy to hook him up with courtside tickets to the game. Floyd was there because he’s a big basketball fan.
“[Pacquiao’s advisor] Michael Koncz went over to Mayweather to get him to come over and talk to Manny. And I think that brief meeting, followed by their talk in the hotel room, let Manny and Michael know that Floyd was really serious about making the fight.”
Mayweather says it was just a matter of sitting down with Pacquiao, face to face.
“Us meeting after the Miami Heat basketball game in his hotel room, and talking about why this fight should happen; that’s really what led to it happening,”
Pacquiao said Mayweather did most of the talking.
“I didn’t say much because I didn’t want to say anything that would offend him and make him leave, but he basically said ‘there’s an A side and there’s a B side to this fight.’ He said it should be a 60-40 split, and I was OK with that. I said ‘OK.'”
Pacquiao said money was never on his mind when the bout was being negotiated. The multi-division champ says his legacy and the fans were his only concerns.
“This fight is very important to boxing history,” Pacquiao said. “It’s important for me and for Floyd to have this fight on our records. And it’s very important to the fans because they are very eager to see this fight.
“For five years fans have been asking me when this fight will happen, bothering me everywhere I go. It had to happen.”
Pacquiao admits that Mayweather has been on his mind since the bout was first proposed in September 2009, when Mayweather returned to the sport after a year-long hiatus to outclass his rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Yes, I’ve been thinking about (fighting him) and preparing and training in my mind, thinking about my style against his, things that I can use now,” said Pacquiao.
Mayweather claims Pacquiao wasn’t on his mind all this time. He said he felt no pressure to fight the Filipino icon from boxing fans, and he said there was no sense of relief when the fight was finally made.
“Absolutely not, my focus has always been on my daily life, so I didn’t feel any relief when the fight was made,” he said. “I can’t live my life for anyone else.”
And now that the two future hall of famers are set to get it on in the ring, is either worried about losing the most anticipated boxing event in more than 25 years?
“I was more worried going into my fights with Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto than I am going into this fight,” said Pacquiao.
“I don’t think negative. I only think positive, and I believe that, God willing, I will get the victory on May 2. I have lost before but losing was an experience that made me a better fighter. It’s part of what builds you up to a higher level.”
Mayweather says he doesn’t think about losing.
“When you get to this level, making nine figures for 36 minutes of work, you have to be a winner.”
Fischer can be emailed at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer